Recently the U.S. financial news medium, Bloomberg reported that Samsung foldable smartphone development folds into a square-shaped cell phone, possibly the Galaxy Fold 2. This smartphone reportedly gets a 6.7-inch screen. The second generation of folding phones must also become slimmer and cheaper. The device is expected in 2020.
Samsung’s second foldable phone receives a unique camera system
On August 29, 2019, Samsung was granted a patent by the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Office) for a ‘flexible electronic device including an optical sensor and method for operating the same’. The patent was applied for on February 2019. The same day the patent was also applied for at the USPTO (the United States Patent and Trademark Office), this patent was published on 22 August 2019.
The patent shows a folding phone that you can fold into a compact square cell phone. Just like the Samsung Galaxy Fold, this device has a front screen and a flexible main display. The screen edges are considerably smaller this time, leaving a larger display surface. This applies to both the front screen and the flexible display, where a large notch can no longer be seen, but a nice, large, proportional display is shown.
The special thing about this Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 foldable smartphone is the camera system. Once unfolded, a camera is placed in the right, upper bezel, which can consist of several lenses. This camera system is designed in such a way that it can be used both in the open position and when folded. How is this possible? The camera is capable of shooting right through the left housing!
To make this possible, a light transmission area is used, through which light can shine through to reach the camera sensor. This light transmission area, which also incorporates a lens module, is placed in the left housing, exactly opposite the image sensor. In this way, light can be captured and emitted right through the housing.
The Galaxy Fold 2 can sense whether the device is being used open or closed, based on which it is determined which camera and which display should be activated. With this camera technology, the large wide notch of the flip-open Galaxy Fold would also be canceled. However, the purpose of this invention is not so much aesthetic, the actual purpose is to reduce the cost price, as the patent description states:
Samsung’s first foldable smartphone, the Galaxy Fold, has a total of six cameras. One at the front, two when the device is folded open (in the notch) and finally three cameras at the rear. So many cameras naturally also result in a higher cost price. With the new invention from Samsung, it is no longer necessary to place a separate camera on the front.
Moreover, in this way, the double camera, which is used in the unfolded position, can also be active for the front side (folded up). In this way, the cost price can be reduced, while at the same time the selfie quality is guaranteed or even improved.
Samsung Galaxy folding phone with an under-screen 3D camera
However, the surprises don’t stop there. Because Samsung seems to see a chance to also provide this device with an under-screen camera. In the patent, this is also described as the ‘second optical sensor’. This is a multifunctional optical sensor, such as a 3D camera, which can determine the depth using infrared.
The recently introduced 3D DepthVision camera on the Galaxy Note 10 is processed under the screen. This is not placed under the flexible screen but under the front display. Which will undoubtedly be easier to implement. Additionally, an in-display fingerprint scanner is mentioned.
The patent emphasizes that this is a possible addition. For example, Samsung retains the option of opting for the first implementation in the first instance, after which its successor will, for example, have an under-screen camera a year later.
The under-screen camera has been in the news several times in recent months. Smartphone manufacturers are eagerly looking for new possibilities to make the notch a thing of the past. If the camera can be successfully placed under the screen, then a full-screen design can be realized, while the selfie functionality is maintained. However, this is easier said than done.
For the time being, there are no smartphones available with an under-screen camera. Various manufacturers already have a prototype, but the image quality still leaves something to be desired for actually applying this in an end product. You can imagine that this is even more difficult with a folding device.
Partly for this reason, it is plausible that Samsung will initially opt for the first version; install the camera of the flexible screen in such a way that it also serves as a selfie camera, for the moments that the device is fully folded. Finally, the company wants to lower the cost of folding smartphones so that the devices become accessible to a wider audience
The patent is very detailed with many technical details, Samsung has clearly spent a lot of hours in this project. It is certainly not inconceivable that Samsung chooses to use similar camera technology in its 2020 foldable smartphones.
Although manufacturers such as Oppo and Xiaomi have in the meantime publicly announced that they have a phone with an under-screen camera in development, Samsung is still on the plain when it comes to this subject.
Will the Korean manufacturer still be able to match or even exceed the enormous speed with which Chinese companies bring technological innovations onto the market? Samsung, of course, has been around for many years, not for nothing has it been the No. 1 smartphone which folds into a square-shaped cell phone one manufacturer for years.