Under Screen Camera Technology Explained- The Complete Notch-Free Experience on Smartphones

by Mayank

Over the last few years , the main focus of almost every smartphone manufacturer around the world has been on increasing the screen-to-body ratio of their smartphones to the extent that phones feel like a glass slab on the front without borders.The primary focus of the brands are on the question-Where should they put the important components on their phone so that they can maintain a full screen experience for the user?

Different manufacturers fixed the fingerprint scanner problem in their own way- While Google still prefers to mount the scanner on the back of their device, Apple has chosen to eliminate it completely. However, the most innovative and currently preferred solution for this is the use of an in-display fingerprint sensor.

On the same note, selfie cameras being a critical component of a phone needed to be figured out too. While some brands use a motorized pop-up selfie camera on their phone, some still stick to the notch. Some brands took it a step further with rotating cameras like the Asus ZenFone 7 series.

Under-Display Cameras

The advent of under-screen fingerprint scanners has led users and manufacturers to wonder whether this technology can also be applied to selfie cameras. Oppo announced in a 2019 tweet that it has developed a technology to integrate the front camera inside the smartphone’s display. Oppo was also the first to demonstrate this technology to the public at the Mobile World Congress of 2019 held in Shanghai.

Xiaomi, a company that is among the pioneers of what I call the “full-screen revolution,” has also introduced its second generation of under-screen technology to the public. Xiaomi also announced last month that it will officially kick off mass production of smartphones equipped with under-screen cameras next year. Perhaps you’re wondering right now how this technology works? How the cameras hide inside the screen? Let ‘s talk about how the technology actually works.

How Under-Display Cameras Work?

The underlying technology for in-display cameras is essentially the same for all manufacturers with various kinds of brand-specific software tweaking to produce better image quality and hide the cameras well under the screen. So, let’s take a look at how Oppo and Xiaomi worked on this technology.

Oppo’s Implementation

Oppo, for example, has revealed that their display uses a custom-made transparent material that allows the light to reach the selfie camera through the phone’s display.

Speaking of selfie cameras, Oppo also said that the image sensor is larger than other smartphones, resulting in a much better image quality. They also claimed that the touch-response of the display above the camera would not be affected.

Oppo’s Under-Screen Camera Technology. Image Credits: Oppo

Oppo also acknowledged the fact that the image quality would be reduced as the screen is now on the front of the camera module (due to glare, shadows, etc.); they added that they were working on some software tweaks to fix the problem.

Xiaomi’s Implementation

Xiaomi is also using a similar technology to Oppo. As reported by the Official Mi Blog, the 3rd generation under-display camera technology allows the light to reach the camera sensor through the gaps between the individual pixels on the screen.

Note: A pixel is a group of red , green and blue dots that can be switched on and off individually or in a group to display a number of colors. Pixels define the resolution of your phone’s screen, for example, 1920 * 1080 pixels mean that there are 1920 pixels arranged horizontally and 1080 pixels arranged vertically.

Now, in order to keep the pixel density at its best, Xiaomi has doubled the number of pixels on the screen so that things on the part of the display above the camera have equally better brightness, contrast and colour accuracy than the rest of the screen.

Arrangement of pixels on the display housing Xiaomi’s under-display camera. Image Credits: Mi Blog

Xiaomi claims that the camera circuitry has been designed in such a way that most of the circuit components are hidden between the sub-pixels of the screen to increase the intensity of the light reaching the camera sensor.

Similar to Oppo, Xiaomi also claimed that they had been working on some software tweaks to deal with the uneven glare that could ruin your perfect selfies because of the screen above the camera module.

When can you Buy a Phone with an In-Display Camera?

While Xiaomi and Oppo have not set a release date for their smartphones equipped with this technology, Xiaomi has made it clear that they will start manufacturing and selling their smartphones using under-display camera technology in 2021.

UPDATE: ZTE just announced the release of their ZTE Axon 20 5G smartphone on 1 September 2020. The phone has in-display camera technology integrated inside it. The in-display front camera is a 32MP sensor. Other than this showcasing feature, the phone has mid-range specs. We can’t say a great deal about how well the selfie camera works on this smartphone until we get to use it. Right now, you can buy the Axon 20 in China. The phone starts at 320 USD or 2198 yuan.

ZTE Axon 20 5G- World’s first phone to have an in-display camera

So, would you buy a smartphone with in-display camera in the near future? Comment below and let me know.

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