Huawei was the world’s first smartphone manufacturer to introduce a phone with a hole punch camera last year; the Huawei Nova 4. With its View 20, subsidiary Honor was also one of the first manufacturers to provide the screen with a hole for the selfie camera.
For a while, it was thought that Huawei’s upcoming flagship, the Mate 30, would have such a camera system, just like Samsung did with the high-end Galaxy S10 and Note 10 models. Although the Huawei Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro seem to have an ‘old-fashioned’ notch, they are working hard in the background on new solutions to arrive at a full-screen design.
Several manufacturers are currently developing an under-screen camera. Oppo and Xiaomi, for example, have publicly indicated that they have such a prototype smartphone. The front camera is then processed entirely under the screen, without having to make a hole in the display. Also, Huawei seems to deal with this advanced technology.
Huawei under the screen camera
It was early 2018 when Huawei Technologies applied for a patent with the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Office) for a smartphone with an under-screen camera. The patent entitled ‘Mobile terminal and display method thereof’ was published on August 29, 2019, and includes a very comprehensive description, as well as a series of patent sketches.
A smartphone is described with a display that is partially transparent. It concerns the upper display part, just below the selfie camera, over the entire width of the device. This section has been used for years to display general status icons, such as the network you are connected to, the network strength, a battery indicator, time, etc.
With the patented Huawei smartphone, the under-screen camera is placed at the level of the status bar. However, this is not the only component that is processed under the screen. The LED indicator, light emitter, sensor, and even the flash are also placed under the display.
If the selfie camera is not in use, you cannot see it either. The transparent display part then becomes semi-transparent (between 50-99%), so that status bar icons can be displayed. By means of a simple touch movement on the main screen, it must be possible for the user to be able to adjust the transparency of the screen.
If the selfie camera is in use, then this display part becomes completely transparent, so that the camera can shine through unobstructed and good image quality is guaranteed. You can also look straight through the telephone, although this of course only concerns the upper part.
The patent also describes the possibility of extending the transparent part to other places on the screen.
The patented technology would be useful for both LCD and OLED screens, it can also be applied to both a flat and curved screen. The two display parts are brought together by means of a transparent cover plate and protected against external influences.
When viewing a video through the main screen, the transparent screen will automatically turn off to save power. Furthermore, the patent refers to sound on display technology. The receiver will also get a new place on the right side.
What happens with the fingerprint scanner is not clear from the patent description, but since Huawei already has several smartphone models with an in-display fingerprint scanner, it seems plausible that the fingerprint sensor is also placed under the screen with this device.
There is a good chance that Huawei is seriously developing this technology. Oppo has already demonstrated its variant of an under-screen camera, although it was stated here that the image quality is currently unsatisfactory.
It is obvious that other manufacturers are currently struggling with the same issue. Nevertheless, there is a good chance that the first smartphones with an under-screen camera will be introduced in 2020 or, alternatively, 2021 at the latest. With that, the eternal race for a ‘full-screen smartphone’ seems to finally come to an end. On to the next trend …