The Ams TCS3701 module could move smartphones closer to truly bezel-less designs.
As per usual, we've seen a ton of rather interesting tech at CES 2019, and yet one announcement managed to surprise us, an announcement by a sensor manufacturer, Ams. Ams announced the TCS3701, and while the name doesn't really reveal much nor sounds like much, the company actually announced new in-display ambient light and proximity sensor solutions for smartphones which sport OLED displays. Now, this will basically make those modules invisible to the eye, and will actually enable OEMs to trim down those bezels even further, in a way. This was one of those surprising announcements which just feel right, and which will probably benefit the smartphone industry as a whole, which is why we've decided to hand out one of our awards to Ams.
The Ams TCS3701 module that the company announced feature an RGB light and IR proximity light sensor, and those two sensors are designed to measure ambient light intensity through OLED panels. The Ams TCS3701 module measures 2 x 2.5mm, and it has a low profile of 0.5mm, which is great for OEMs, as that makes it quite small, small enough to be placed behind OLED panels, which will free up some room above the display, thus allow OEMs to trim down top bezels even more. The Ams TCS3701 module also comes with algorithms which are capable of differentiating between ambient light and the light emitted by the OLED panel itself, which will make things easier for smartphone OEMs as well. All in all, the Ams TCS3701 module is capable of accurate light measurements, regardless of lighting conditions, while it also come with adjustable IR LED timing for improved sensitivity and power consumption.
It just feels like the Ams TCS3701 will help smartphone manufacturers go a step forward, to move one step closer to a fully bezel-less smartphone. The main culprit is still a selfie camera, as the technology is still not there for under-the-display selfie cameras, but the Ams TCS3701 gives smartphone OEMs a chance to save up some space above the display as well, so it remains to be seen how will that affect smartphone designs. Notches have been present in smartphones for quite some time now, in 2018, we've seen a ton of smartphones with display notches, which usually include a selfie camera and some additional sensors. In 2019, smartphone manufacturers are moving to display holes, which will mostly include selfie cameras, while sensors are still tucked away above the display. Such sensors do not require a lot of room, so top bezels are never too wide, but they could be thinner, and they probably will once OEMs start utilizing the Ams TCS3701 module, which will probably start happening in the near future, even though Ams did not reveal its partners just yet, but it did say that a single module costs $1.25, and that it will be accepting order no lower than 1,000 unit, as these modules are clearly made for mass production. Ams is expected to release more info in the near future, though, and we do expect to see these modules start popping up in smartphones sometime in 2019.