In a perfect smartphone, there will be a full edge-to-edge screen without any interruption. This will mean the highest screen-to-body ration where the favorite selfie camera would be hidden underneath the surface of the screen display.
In the quest to achieve this feat, there have been inventions like the pop-up-camera, dewdrop notches, flip cameras and punch-hole cameras. So far, none of these have been able to live up to an intrusion-free screen expectation.
A few big names in the tech industry have made attempts over the years to make this a reality without so much success.
Chinese phone manufactures Oppo and Xiaomi have made prototype handsets spotting the breakthrough Under-Display Camera (UDC), also known as Under-Panel or Under-Screen Camera that didn’t make it to the market. In a rather unexpected move, another Chinese technology company ZTE, beat them to commercially release the ZTE Axon 20 5G in 2020. The phone had its front facing camera underneath the screen display, earning it the title, ‘the world’s first UDC smartphone’.
What is Under-Display Camera?
An Under-Display Camera is a front-facing camera that is hidden behind the display panel of a smartphone. This approach puts a camera below the tiny glowing dots that make up the pixels of a smartphone’s display. It’s similar to a hole-punch camera in that, it cuts away the panel’s digitizer and backplane to allow a camera to peek through, but this time manages to extend the actual OLED matrix over the top of that hole. This technology is aimed at providing undisrupted display without compromising image quality on either end. But is this the reality with the commercially available devices?
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
It is no longer a secret that Samsung’s new iteration in the Z Fold series comes with an UDC, the first ever on a foldable device. Let’s take note that the phone already has a selfie camera atop the cover display but that’s not the focus here. The tech giant hides a selfie camera behind the Z Fold 3’s 7.6-inch foldable display panel. This is meant to provide a more immersive experience for the user. In their own words, “unfold Z Fold3 to immerse yourself in theater-like viewing experiences and stay fully engaged in your favorite content on the uninterrupted 7.6-inch Infinity Flex Display—thanks to our new Under display camera technology. With minimum pixels applied on top of the camera hole, Z Fold3 features an increased viewable area so users get an unbroken canvas for their favorite apps.” The camera has a 4mp sensor with an f/18 aperture and an 80 degrees field of view. The sensor has quite large 2-micron pixels, which means they can capture more light – something needed when the sensor is hidden behind a display. As compared to a previous commercially available device with this technology, the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s UDC, despite its relatively low megapixels produce fairly good photos and videos.