A rather known tipster, Ice universe, has shared an interesting design via his official Twitter account. This image actually shows off a phone with almost no bezels, and the tipster says that this design may be representative of what future smartphones will look like. The tipster says that "after 2020" high-end smartphone may adopt this design. Now, the image itself seems to have Samsung's infographic on the display, "The Evolution of Samsung's Galaxy Note Series", so this is probably an adapted design of one of Samsung's smartphones, it sure look like it. Do keep in mind that this is probably just an edited image of one of Samsung's designs, not a leak or anything of the sort.
As far as the design itself is concerned, a notch is not a part of the picture, nor is a display camera hole, as the camera is hidden under the display, as per the source. The source also mentions that this phone has a 21:9 display aspect ratio, which may become a standard down the road, as companies want to implement larger display but keep them narrow enough for users. This phone has a curved display on the sides, while its top and bottom bezels are almost non-existent, they're barely thicker than the side ones that are there as a frame, nothing else. This particular phone sports a power / lock key on the right, while its volume up and down buttons are on the left, along with a Bixby button, which is yet another indication that this is one of Samsung's designs. The display sports rounded corners, and they're rounded quite a bit, actually. Now, in addition to sharing this design with the public, Ice universe also mentioned the Sony Xperia XZ4 in his tweet, suggesting that it will sport a 21:9 display aspect ratio, and may be one of the devices that will start that trend.
Present vs Future
Smartphone manufacturers have been trimming down bezels for years now, as far as the technology let them. Once they hit a roadblock, display notches started to appear, and Apple is the main reason why notches have become a thing, more or less. Having said that, we're currently in a phase of transitioning from display notches to display camera holes, as the technology is still not there for smartphone manufacturers to start implementing front-facing cameras under the display. Some smartphone manufacturers managed to stay away from display notches, such as Samsung, for example, which is something the company has been praised for in the last year or two. Having said that, it seems like Samsung will get fully on board the "display camera hole" display, as the company released the world's first smartphone with the display camera hole, the Galaxy A8s, and its upcoming Galaxy S10 flagships will sport display camera holes as well, it seems.
Now, next year will probably be a year of display camera holes, as a ton of smartphone manufacturers are planning to release such devices. Huawei will introduce its Nova 4 smartphone on December 17, while Lenovo will follow a couple of days later. LG and ZTE are both planning to release phones with display camera holes as well, and it seems like both OPPO and OnePlus are on board as well. So, first we had regular phones, then came the period of trimming down bezels, then notches came, and now display camera holes. Many would say that this is not an ideal solution, as that display camera hole actually obstructs on the experience, it's basically in the display, and it's messing with the UI. Well, if Ice universe's Tweet is anything to go by, after 2020 (which could mean 2021), under the display cameras will become a thing, and display camera holes will become a thing of the past.
Under The Display Front-Facing Cameras Are The Solution
In this day and age, it seems like smartphone manufacturers are having significant issues when it comes to implementing front-facing cameras into smartphones, they either have to include a thicker bezel on the top in order to include it, or make a hole in the display in order to do so. Testing of under-the-display cameras is well on the way, and it has been for quite some time now, but the technology is still not there. Including a camera under the display means that the image will not be as sharp as it should be, as it's basically taking a picture through the display, not only that we're looking at an additional piece of glass here, but it's also often smudgy from everyday use. A solution for all that is probably coming though, as researchers will probably find a way to solve it, at which point display camera holes will be a thing of the past, and almost completely bezel-less devices will be a reality.
Truth be said, some display manufacturers are trying to avoid that problem in different ways, but those implementations did not exactly become a standard. Vivo, OPPO, and Xiaomi come to mind. The Vivo NEX's front-facing camera pops up from the phone itself when needed, though that's not an ideal solution according to many due to the fact the phone has moving parts, as a motor is controlling that camera. The second-gen NEX phone was released quite recently, and it actually uses its rear-facing cameras as its selfie cameras, as the phone has two displays, one on the front and one on the back. OPPO and Xiaomi basically created sliding phones, OPPO's is powered by a motor, while Xiaomi's is not, it's a manual slider, and front-facing cameras are hidden in both cases. As already mentioned, none of those designs has become a standard, and chances are it won't at all, under-the-display cameras seem to be a solution.
What About Foldable Smartphones?
As most of you know by now, Samsung is planning to release a foldable smartphone next year, and the same can be said for LG, Huawei, and OPPO, all of which have announced the arrival of their foldable devices. First-gen devices will probably be too thick, and suffer from first-gen issues, though down the road, foldable phones may actually be a solution for smartphone design as well, though the variant with an under-the-display camera and regular form factor seems way more likely. Foldable smartphones are, for the most part, still a mystery, and 2019 will be a year where we will get a ton more info regarding those devices, and see various implementations of the idea.