The first Samsung smartphone featuring an under-display camera (UDC) may not arrive until the second half of next year. The Galaxy S21 series, which should launch sometime in February 2021, was previously expected to debut this unprecedented UDC technology. However, the company reportedly isn't yet ready with the new tech to begin mass production in time for its next flagships.
According to a new report out of South Korea, Samsung now expects to introduce its version of UDC with the Galaxy Z Fold 3. This marks the second time the company has delayed the launch of UDC tech after previously failing to commercialize it with the Galaxy Z Fold 2, which launched last month. Its successor should arrive in Q3 2021.
Samsung not yet ready with under-display camera tech
Samsung Display, the Korean giant's display manufacturing arm, has been developing the UDC tech for smartphones for years. The company is reportedly using the "Hole In Active Area" (HIAA) display drilling technique for the technology. This technique was first implemented to drill the camera holes in the Galaxy 10 series last year.
Samsung tried two different variations of the HIAA technique to achieve the desired result for its UDC tech. The HIAA 1 method drills a hole in the display panel in a single shot while the HIAA 2 method does it with multiple micro-holes. The company eventually decided to go ahead with the second method but is reportedly facing low production yield-rates.
It is also exploring methods that'd allow the implementation of the UDC tech without drilling any holes. However, these techniques are for the future. Samsung has seemingly settled with the HIAA 2 method for its first-generation UDC tech.
In addition to this, Samsung also has yet to decide on the camera module for its first under-display camera phone. The thickness of the sensor is among the things the company needs to consider. The yellowish nature of the polyimide (PI) substrates used in flexible OLEDs may also cause color distortion in the area above the sensor when light passes through the holes. Software calibration is required to eliminate this.
Samsung is yet to perfect all this and hence isn't rushing to launch an under-display camera phone. The Galaxy S21 series will feature the same punch hole camera system as its predecessors with a cutout at the top center of the display.
The ZTE Axon 20 5G launched last month as the world's first under-display camera phone. Several other smartphone makers, including Oppo, Xiaomi, and Vivo, are also working on their own versions of this technology.