The screen edges of smartphones have been drastically reduced in recent years. This gives the user a larger screen surface, without increasing the overall dimensions of the device, thus keeping the phone handy and portable.
This trend will continue in the coming years and smartphone manufacturers will use an even larger screen area. To create this, alternative locations must be found for functions such as the camera, but also for the sensors that could previously be placed in the upper bezel.
We have recently seen several alternatives for the front camera. Think of a pop-up camera, a punch-hole camera, a rotating camera and now the under-screen camera being developed.
The first sensors are already being processed under the screen. The Oppo Reno 10x Zoom is equipped with an Ambient Light Sensor that is placed under the screen, just like the fingerprint sensor. The light sensor is positioned in the upper right corner of the Reno 10x Zoom.
A recently published patent shows that Oppo also sees opportunities to process such an in-display light sensor in a curved smartphone, where not two, but all four sides of the screen extend to the side. This provides a beautiful 3D display effect, as the product renders visualized by LetsGoDigital also show.
Oppo smartphone with a curved display on 4 sides
In November 2018, Guandong Oppo Mobile Telecommunications filed a patent with the USPTO (the United States Patent and Trademark Office) and the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Office) for an ‘Electronic device and manufacturing method for electronic device’. The patent was published earlier this month.
The patent description speaks of a smartphone with a full-screen design, where all four sides of the screen are rounded. It is a very futuristic model where no top or bottom bezel is visible anymore.
Even the recently introduced Xiaomi Mi Mix Alpha still has a bezel on the top and bottom, which is not the case with this controversial model. You only see glass on the front. The light sensors are placed under the curved display section, both top left, and top right.
Oppo phone with the infrared and light sensor under the screen
In November 2018, Guandong Oppo Mobile Telecommunications applied for a patent under the same name, which was also filed with both the USPTO and WIPO. This patent was published on September 26, 2019, and also speaks of a full-screen design.
This time it concerns an Oppo phone with a flat display. The device has an ultra-thin screen border. Pay attention; this is not an aluminum frame, as is the case with the Reno 10x Zoom.
It is a translucent screen surface, on which no content can be displayed, but light can shine through. The aluminum frame only stands on the side of the device. Light is directed towards the light sensor by means of a light-conducting element. The light sensor can thus be placed under the screen surface.
The light sensor is able to adjust the brightness of the screen to the environment. If there is little ambient light, the screen will automatically switch to a darker position. This happens by the way very gradually and fluently, which means that in practice you are hardly aware of this.
This sensor can be placed in various locations. For example, the sensor is shown in the patent illustrations at the top of the screen, or alternatively there is talk about halfway the left or right side. Opposite this will be placed an infrared sensor, including an infrared receiver and sender.
The infrared sensor can feel the heat. For example, the smartphone knows that the user is calling when he is holding the device to his ear. At that time the screen can be turned off automatically to save energy.
The patented technology can be applied to an OLED screen or a Micro LED screen. This last type of display has the right properties to create a ‘light-transmitting screen part’.
It is clear that the second patent is easier to realize than the first. All the more so because Oppo still provides most smartphones with a flat-screen. Nevertheless, the Chinese manufacturer does have several phones in the portfolio with a curved display, including the Find X.
The company also demonstrated a smartphone with a so-called ‘waterfall display’ two months ago. This Oppo phone had a curved display that extended all the way to the sides. However, this screen was only rounded on the two sides and not on the top and bottom.