The front of modern smartphones is almost entirely occupied by the display which makes integrating the selfie camera an ever more difficult task for designers and engineers. We’ve seen solutions using camera notches, hole-punch cameras and pop-up mechanisms but none look as elegant and inconspicuous as a camera that is hidden under the display.
Some under-display prototypes have already been making the rounds but now we’ll finally have a working production model to play with. Chinese manufacturer ZTE has just announced it will launch the world’s first smartphone with under-display front camera on September 1st. The company says the ZTE Axon 20 5G ‘will be the world’s first mass-produced 5G smartphone featuring under-display camera, marking another milestone in ZTE’s exploration of the true full display smartphone.’
|Xiaomi prototype with under-display camera next to a device with front camera notch|
Unfortunately no other specs or pricing information has been released at this point but XDA-Developers has discovered a recent database entry by Chinese regulator TENAA that lists the Axon 20 5G as a device with 32MP front camera and a quad-rear-camera setup with 64, 8 and a pair of 2MP modules. Other rumored specs include 6.92-inch HD OLED display and up to 12GB of RAM.
Previously manufacturers Xiaomi and Oppo were the first to demonstrate technology allowing for the front camera to be placed under and capture images information through the display. Prototype devices made an appearance but in January 2020 Xiaomi VP Lu Weibing said there were still too many technological challenged to overcome and a production devices should not be expected any time soon, mainly because the high pixel-density of modern smartphone displays blocked too much of the incoming light from the camera lens and sensor.
— David ImeI (@DurvidImel) December 10, 2019
However, not too long after this statement was made OLED manufacturer Visionox announced it was ready to start mass production of displays with under-screen cameras. The company claimed it had been successful at increasing light transmission by using different organic and non-organic film materials that offer higher transparency. It also developed a new software for correcting brightness and color casts as well as viewing angle issues to work in conjunction with the new type of display.
In addition the pixel density on the portion of the display covering the camera lens has been modified to allow for better light transmission by reducing the display resolution in the specific area where the camera is located.
At this point it is unknown if the ZTE Axon 20 5G is using the VIsionox solution or a similar approach. However, we should know more and find out what kind of image quality the first under-display front camera can deliver on September 1st.