Phone makers are introducing new design features to enhance the visual and functionality of smartphones. After foldable designs, the new trend could be under-display cameras. However, this new technology may not be ready commercially this year. Although prototypes seem to be in advanced development stage, the technology may need a bit more time to mature before mass production. The prolific information leakster in the industry, Ice Universe, revealed that under-display cameras are not around the corner yet. Today, phone makers are seeking to shrink the lens diameter to around 1mm.
However, it may take two more years before this happens. The front-facing camera of Samsung Galaxy S10 has 5mm diameter, while the upcoming Galaxy Note 10 may have smaller opening. For smartphone manufacturers, under-display cameras are quite a challenge. However, the concept is nothing new. A decade ago, there were already patents related to this technology. The idea may be quite straightforward, but executing it is quite challenging. Limitations in technology still stifle the under-display camera development in various consumer devices. However, as prices go down and technology progresses, companies should be able to explore new methods.
It’s easier to implement under-display fingerprint scanner, because it doesn’t need a lens. There are various options to develop under-display cameras. One of them is to use the display itself as the lens for the camera. It’s the approach used by Xiaomi and Oppo for their prototypes. Xiaomi makes a portion of the OLED screen transparent. When the camera is disabled, the content appears as usual on the display. When user opens that camera app, the small section of the display becomes transparent and acts the lens. However, it’s only possible for smartphones with OLED displays. Another issue is that transparent display isn’t convex, so it’s challenging to capture images with equally high details.