Samsung is continuing its pursuit of the truly bezel-less smartphone dream with the next logical step – a front-facing camera designed to operate beneath a (relatively) traditional screen.
The new technology has already been in active development at Samsung for some time now, according to Byung Duk Yang, one of the company's Vice Presidents and the head of its display innovation efforts.
The new confirmation marks the second occasion whereon Samsung partially delegated the research and development aspect of a mobile camera project to its display unit; it already did so last year when finalizing the design of the imaging modules that ended up being integrated into the Galaxy S10 lineup and some of its more recent mid-rangers, such as the newest additions to the Galaxy A range. The reason behind both decisions is obvious – while Samsung's selfie cameras are arguably industry-leading affairs already, getting them to work below a layer of touch-sensitive glass presents an entirely different set of challenges than simply delivering stellar images with fewer hardware constraints.
Regardless of how public Samsung became about its next ambitions in the smartphone design world, the South Korean electronics juggernaut remains tight-lipped about how far along it came with the idea to develop the said concept. The firm innovated in the handset camera segment quite rapidly over the course of the last several years, though that's not solely a testament to its R&D capabilities but also evidence of how competitive the market became. While Samsung is now once again said to offer the best mobile photography experience on the market, it only managed to do so after more than a year of trailing behind Huawei, if only by a slight margin.
In other words, it's not inconceivable that Samsung manages to put a front-facing camera beneath a mobile display as early as next year, though how exactly it goes about doing so is still up in the air.
The price bracket of the first device to feature such a solution will almost certainly reveal more details regarding the overall state of the company's technology; a flagship debut would likely take most rivals by surprise but a more likely scenario is for in-display cameras to debut in the mid-range price bracket. Samsung's under-screen fingerprint readers followed a similar route, having briefly lingered in the same segment before making a jump to the high-end part of the firm's mobile portfolio.
The confirmation of Samsung's next smartphone design project suggests the company will be circumventing the pop-up selfie cameras that have been gaining significant traction in recent months, particularly among Chinese manufacturers.
The upcoming OnePlus 7 is set to become the first smartphone using such a solution that's widely available in the West, with the Android phablet's launch being scheduled for next week.
Samsung is apparently pursuing an entirely different approach and assuming its in-display camera project progresses at a remotely steady pace, the Seoul-based company should be well-positioned to skip the pop-up camera phase entirely on its quest for completely bezel-free handsets, i.e. manage to commercialize such tech without taking a step down in terms of quality.