ZTE is preparing its own smartphone with a hole in the display, it seems, though in ZTE's case it won't be a camera hole, at least on one of its smartphones it won't, according to a new patent that just surfaced. In ZTE's case, we can look forward to a smartphone with a display hole for the phone's earpiece, not its front-facing camera. Now, this phone has basically no bezel, so some of you are probably wondering where is its front-facing camera, as this display hole for an earpiece solves only a part of the problem. Well, either its camera is hidden away, or it doesn't have one at all. There are several options here, the camera is in the phone and it pops up when necessary, it's under the display, or it isn't included at all. Well, the first option is not really an option when it comes to this phone, at least according to the patent drawing, as we get to see the top of the phone, and there doesn't seem to be a place for the camera to pop out of, we should see some sort of lines that indicate the sensor up there. Including a camera under the display is a possibility, though not a single smartphone manufacturer did it just yet because the technology doesn't seem to be there yet, as the images look much worse than on a regular front-facing camera… though, it's possible that ZTE found a way around that, and we may actually get to see such an implementation. And the option number three, a front-facing camera is not included at all, which is also a possibility, of course.
As far as the rest of this phone's design is concerned, you will notice that there are two sets of speaker grills down below, even though we're probably looking at only one speaker here. A Type-C USB port is included on the bottom as well, while the phone's volume up, volume down, and power / lock buttons are included on the right. A SIM card tray will be accessible from the left, if this phone ever becomes a reality, while a fingerprint scanner sits on the back of this handset. There seem to be two cameras included in the upper-left corner of the phone's back side, while an LED flash sits right next to those two cameras. The phone's display sports rounded corners, and a 3.5mm headphone jack doesn't seem to be a part of this offering, which was to be expected. It is also worth noting that the phone seems to be curved on the sides, on the back, for ergonomic purposes. That's pretty much everything that we can see in the images that the company provided.
Background: This may actually be the very first ZTE patent of this sort that we've seen pop up online, and even though this particular patent shows an earpiece inside the display, it is possible that ZTE will board the display camera hole bandwagon as well, like many other smartphone manufacturers. We did not really hear much from ZTE when it comes to smartphones lately, as the company has been involved in some controversy regarding its business in the US, and during that time the company basically stopped releasing new devices, well, at least slowed down on releasing new phones, as the ZTE Axon 9 Pro did launch back in August. The device that is shown in the provided patent could be a flagship phone, but on the other hand, it could be a mid-range smartphone as well, as we do not have any info regarding its specifications or anything of the sort, which is not surprising considering this is just a patent.
ZTE is not the only company that is planning to release a smartphone with a display hole of some sort, several OEMs are planning to release smartphones with display camera holes, including Samsung, OnePlus, Huawei, OPPO, and some others… while LG actually patented a dual display hole design recently. Based on that design, LG actually plans to either incorporate two front-facing cameras in the display, or perhaps an earpiece and a camera… in any case, there is room for two components based on LG's patent, so who knows. Samsung is planning to release the Galaxy A8s which the company already teased during a recent press conference. The Galaxy A8s will become the company's very first smartphone with a display camera hole, though it seems like Huawei will trump it with its Nova 4 device in order to become the very first smartphone OEM who released such a device, it all depends on when the two devices will be announced. Both of those phones are expected to arrive in December, but neither of the two companies confirmed the launch date just yet. The OPPO R19 leaked a while back with a centered display camera hole, and the OnePlus 7 will probably adopt that design, and include a display camera hole as well, though it's too early to tell.
Impact: ZTE could make this patent a reality in the future, of course, but nothing is guaranteed, as this is not a smartphone leak, this is just a smartphone design patent. It remains to be seen what is ZTE's next step, but the company needs to pick up the pace when it comes to smartphone launches if they want to remain competitive. ZTE really did not release all that many phones in the last year or two in markets outside of China, and that will need to change if the company aims to compete, of course. If the smartphone in this patent was to become a reality at some point, we really do not know what its name would be… perhaps ZTE is preparing a whole new lineup of smartphones, or maybe the company plans to release such a phone under the "Axon" branding, we'll see. If this phone is coming, chances are we'll see some rumors and leaks pop up in the near future, so stay tuned for that, as it will be interesting to see a real-life image of this phone, and also get some info regarding its specifications, of course.