A recently published patent suggests upcoming Samsung smartphones might utilize what is in effect a secondary screen in certain circumstances to overcome the issue of aspects of the display having to be left unused – as is typically understood to be the case with hole-punch displays.
This technology might even feature on the upcoming Galaxy S10 family of devices.
The patent was originally filed in March 2017 although it was only published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on January 16 of this year.
In the documentation, Samsung explains the technology utilizes small "transparent" displays in addition to the main display. In effect, they are different displays which might be best understood as when used in the same device result in a layered display space.
These secondary displays remain transparent in the sense they continue to allow light and similar to permeate through to the other (main) display and therefore do not interfere with the normal operations of the device. Although when needed they can also be used to provide display information, albeit in a simpler form and with a lesser resolution. This would look to solve the issue of sensors.
Most sensors, whether they be for the camera, for fingerprint identification, or for anything else occupy space on a smartphone which is not usable other than for the purpose of the sensors. However, Samsung wants to change that so those spaces become usable either for directly relevant information or even other information.
Take a heart rate sensor or the cameras for example. The report suggest that these transparent displays will be able to respond with an icon or other display element when the user interacts with either of these components. That is, the second display will be able to respond by showcasing a small icon or animation.
As this is a secondary and transparent display it can in effect be placed anywhere on the display including on component areas that would not normally be expected to provide typical display uses. For example, it could in theory be used on top of a front-facing camera or even a home button on the display. It could essentially be used anywhere where glass is already in use.
Where the Galaxy S10 comes in specifically, the patent was first spotted by LetsGoDigital and that report picks up on the patient's inclusion of illustrations of a flat display smartphone and one that comes with rounded corners. Previous rumors have suggested Samsung plans to launch the Galaxy S10 in both forms.
The patent also talks about how the technology can be used to correct an image displayed so that when the secondary display is not in use the corrected image will provide a more seamless-looking image – in other words, fill in the gaps. A visual example of this from the patent is shown below.
As this is a patent, there is no guarantee that the technology described here will ever arrive, or arrive exactly as described, let alone with the Galaxy S10.
However, with the advent of smartphones that now come with a hole-punch display and with Samsung already showing signs it is not only committed to the hole-punch display (in Samsung's case the Infinity-O display), but also other novel display forms and designs, it could be the case the Galaxy S10 is the first smartphone line from the company to debut the technology.