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How Under-Display Camera Tech Will Elevate Your Smartphone Experience
Oppo has officially unveiled its next-generation under-screen camera (USC) technology, which will help the brand design new smartphones with selfie cameras placed under the display. As per Oppo, the third generation under-screen camera solution discreetly places the front-facing camera under the smartphone display without compromising the integrity and consistency of the entire screen, both during use and while on standby.
In simple words, the new under-screen camera tech won't affect the display's pixel density, thus maintaining the overall sharpness of the panel, display reliability, and lifespan. Oppo also showcased a prototype giving an idea of how the new generation under-screen camera can allow users experience full-screen visuals on its upcoming smartphones.
Notably, Oppo isn't the only Chinese tech giant working in the under-screen camera field. Vivo showcased a concept phone- Apex in 2020 featuring a curved screen and an under-screen selfie camera. Xiaomi and Realme are also testing prototypes with sophisticated under-display camera modules.
And while most brands are still in the testing phase, ZTE is already selling a flagship Axon-series handset with similar technology. The Axon 30 5G is the company's second-generation under-screen camera phone flaunting a 120Hz refresh rate OLED panel with a light-sensitive 4-in-1 2.24um equivalent large pixel front-facing camera.
What Goes Behind Designing Under-Screen Camera Technology?
The under-screen camera tech has been in development for some time now. It combines hardware innovations and proprietary algorithms to achieve a balance between screen and camera quality. Both ZTE and OPPO have been working hard to solve many technical and manufacturing-related challenges that have plagued under-screen camera technology.
These include inconsistent display quality in the specific screen area above the under-screen camera, poor image quality caused by obstruction of the camera by the screen, and display reliability issues affecting the overall lifespan of the handset.
With advancements in mobile manufacturing processes, Oppo and ZTE have managed to overcome the aforementioned issues. Oppo's prototype and ZTE's Axon 30 5G claims to feature an upgraded under-screen camera solution to offer a full-screen experience without any performance issues.
Advancements In Under-Screen Camera Technology
Starting with Oppo, the brand claims to have made significant improvements by upgrading structure design and AI algorithms. Some important upgrades include:
Better Pixel Geometry: The new solution shrinks the size of each pixel without decreasing the number of pixels to ensure a 400-PPI high-quality display even in the camera area.
Transparent Wiring And New Design: Oppo's new prototype replaces the traditional screen wiring with a transparent wiring material. The width of the wiring has also been reduced by 50% to achieve a smoother visual experience.
Better Control of Screen Accuracy, Color, And Brightness: The new under-screen camera solution upgrades the pixel-circuit standards to better control the chromaticity and brightness of the entire screen. Oppo's prototype has each pixel circuit driving only 1 pixel ("1-to-1") resulting in light deviation of 2%, thus improving the visual experience while using the phone's display for day-to-day tasks.
Improved reliability and lifespan: The "1-to-1" pixel circuit and new optimization algorithm are said to improve the screen's lifespan by up to 50%.
Oppo also promises better front-facing camera performance with its third-generation under-screen camera solution. The team has designed new imaging AI algorithms (diffraction reduction, HDR and AWB) to reduce inconsistencies in under-screen cameras, such as blurry images and image glare.
ZTE Axon 30 5G- Production Ready Under-Screen Camera Phone
On the other hand, ZTE mentions that the Axon 30 5G also features a newly developed camera-display arrangement, which is engineered by using six core technologies: a special pixel matrix, unique driver circuits, independent display chip, front camera, in-house selfie algorithm, and larger light-sensitive 4-in-1 2.24um equivalent large pixel camera.
Developed by using seven layers of highly transparent materials and three special processing technologies, the ingenious circuit arrangement is said to offer better synchronization between the selfie shooter and the precise display area housing the sensor, thus promising a more natural transition between them.
Moving on, Xiaomi might soon unveil a full-fledged under-screen camera phone. The tech giant is working on a new device- Mi Mix 4, which is expected to bring a super flexible screen and an under-display camera. More details will surface in the coming weeks.
The Future Is Immersive
In a nutshell, the days of mass-production ready under-screen cameras are not far. The Chinese tech giants are in the final stages of optimizing their respective under-screen camera technologies to design smartphones with a more immersive, full-screen visual experience.
With the front-facing cameras placed under the display, future phones will offer a full-screen visual experience to consumers. There won't be any punch-holes, or glaring notches to break the symmetry on crisp displays. The future smartphones will offer a true full-screen viewing experience without compromising on camera quality.
It will be interesting to see how these devices from different vendors will compare with each other in form-factor and functionality. The under-screen camera phones will most likely hit the mass market in 2022. Similar to under-display in-screen fingerprint handsets, the under-display camera phones will be priced higher in the initial stages and will start selling at affordable prices with time and advancement in manufacturing technologies.
Below are some smartphones expected to come with under-screen camera technology for a bezel-less viewing experience.
- Xiaomi Mi Mix 4
- ZTE Axon 30 5G (Available in China)
- Vivo Apex 2020
- Realme Under-Screen Camera Phone
Images: Oppo, ZTE