OPPO Reveals World-First Under-Screen Camera

After a teaser, Chinese phone maker OPPO has finally revealed the world's first under-screen selfie camera at MWC Shanghai this week.

OPPO India tweeted out, "OPPO's brand new solution for full-screen display- Under-screen Camera (USC) has just been unveiled here at #MWC19 Shanghai! #MoreThanTheSeen" earlier today.

OPPO says it redesigned the pixel structure and used a custom transparent material for the camera while making the camera sensor larger than most selfie cameras. Of course, the new under-screen camera doesn't leave a hole in the display like the punch hole design and Samsung's Infinity-O displays feature, for example, which means that the entire screen remains fully intact and able to be touched as typical touchscreens are.

OPPO also says that the display won't be compromised with its under-display camera, though there's some evidence to the contrary. With the under-screen camera, there is bound to be a decline in image quality. OPPO says it addresses this with its own algorithm to combat issues of haze, glare, blur, and the like.

Only time will tell if OPPO's claims are true though. The Chinese vendor says it plans to roll out the under-screen camera on a commercial phone in the future, though no phone has yet been announced as the lucky recipient. The first tip of the new camera design arrived last month when tipster Ben Geskin tweeted that OPPO would announce a smartphone with an under-display camera this year.

Under-screen cameras are the evolution in smartphone design that started with under-screen fingerprint sensors. As manufacturers tend to pay more attention to smartphone design while adding new trending features to smartphones, they must find more real estate by which to incorporate the latest technologies.

The race to the full-screen smartphone continues, as bezels have been eliminated for many, with fingerprint sensors embedded in displays. Now, cameras have been carved out in the forms of holes on screens, or notches above the screen have been added to accommodate them.

Notches, though, are a design Band-Aid that doesn't eliminate the problem. While they may look "fashionable" in the form of "water drops," for example, notch shapes do little for the problem regarding how to eliminate the extra space needed for the selfie camera.

Samsung has embedded its cameras into displays in the form of punch hole cameras, but this leaves the display vulnerable to dust and dirt and the environment.

In the future, under-screen cameras will become the de facto camera layout on mobile phones in the Android space. OPPO has become the first to implement it, though OPPO won't be the last.

OPPO is, however, yet another Chinese vendor leading the way in smartphone design, as Vivo was the first to incorporate the under-display or embedded fingerprint sensor in its Vivo X20 Plus UD.

OPPO is the first to unveil an under-screen camera, but other Android OEMs are considering the new design as part of their mobile future as well. Xiaomi demoed its under-display camera earlier this month alongside OPPO, the same day as the start of Apple's WWDC 2019 developer conference.

Last March, Chinese vendor Meizu patented an in-display camera for full-screen smartphones. Meizu's patented camera would have a display made of graphene. A rumor says that the upcoming Essential PH-2 phone will have an under-display camera.

Android juggernaut Samsung, not one to ever be left behind in the smartphone space, filed a full-screen smartphone patent providing room for the camera sensor, microphone, speaker, and receivers to go in the display panel rather than outside of it as typical smartphones do nowadays.

Industry insider Ice Universe says that consumers shouldn't expect entirely bezel-less smartphones with under-display cameras to become mainstream anytime soon. The reason pertains to the fact that under-display or in-display cameras suffer from the image quality smartphone users have grown accustomed to expect in flagship smartphones.

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About the Author

Deidre Richardson

Staff News Writer
Deidre Richardson is a tech lover whose insatiable desire for all things tech has kept her in tech journalism some eight years now. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned BA degrees in both History and Music. Since graduating from Carolina in 2006, Richardson obtained a Master of Divinity degree and spent four years in postgraduate seminary studies. She's written five books since 2017 and all of them are available at Amazon. You can connect with Deidre Richardson on Facebook.