Lenovo may be preparing two new smartphones featuring slider-cameras rather than a hole-punch display or notch, based on designs filed with the Chinese National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) and first spotted by Tiger Mobiles.
In both designs, the smartphones appear to be separated between the front and back panels. A mechanism is in place that allows the back panel to be slid upward, revealing selfie cameras. The two designs differ mostly in terms of the number of cameras present in the selfie-shooter array and primary camera.
There are a few subtle differences in terms of the overall design of the devices, with the apparent larger of the two featuring minutely thicker bezels — almost symmetrical around the entire device. That handset appears to have a smoother curve to the back panel too.
The smaller gadget with slightly trimmer bezels features a dual-camera snapper on the back while the front side only has a single snapper. On the larger of the two, the rear panel seems to three sensors at the back and dual-selfie-snappers. The front cameras seem to be accompanied by a much wider array of secondary sensors too, possibly indicating it would have advanced face unlocking and AR features that its counterpart wouldn't be capable of utilizing.
New Lenovo 'Z' phones or something else?
Details regarding exactly what sets these sliders apart from others that are already on the market, including those made by Lenovo, aren't immediately clear. The design sketches provided with the patents also seem to indicate that both will apply to future smartphones in lines already released by Lenovo under its own branding.
One thing that is apparent is that these don't line up well with the recently launched Lenovo Z6 Pro design. The biggest difference is that although these do line up with the previously launched Lenovo Z5 and Z5 Pro GT, that smartphone doesn't have a slider camera.
Taking cues from Moto for the Chinese market?
Previous iterations of slider phones from Lenovo have centered around a more traditional oval-shaped camera housing and bump on the rear-panel — typically in a vertical orientation. The new designs, conversely, utilize a round camera hump and even follow Moto's standard squared-off camera layout.
The design itself appears very similar to that found on another series of smartphones made by Lenovo but sold under the "Moto" branding.
Tying in with that, Lenovo's smartphones are generally sold exclusively in the Chinese market. So the aesthetic appearance of the new designs seems to lean toward consolidating the two brands — at least in outward appearance. That could place Lenovo in a better position to compete in its home region, with consideration for the increasingly oversaturated global Android smartphone market — summarily, by narrowing its focus into fewer components and designs.
Setting aside that speculation, both patents could ultimately apply to a single device with elements taken from either design rolled into one. Until Lenovo utilizes the design patents to release new smartphones or a new smartphone, it's not immediately clear whether that is their intended purpose is.