• According to a leaker, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 might be the first Samsung flagship with a selfie camera placed under the display.
  • Samsung already confirmed its UPC technology, teasing that laptops featuring OLED screens with cameras under the display would be launched in the near future.
  • Under-panel camera tech will likely be used for other Samsung smartphones as well. Samsung’s flagships already come with high-end OLED panels, which are the best in the industry.

CES 2021 was an online-only tech event this year on account of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Even if virtual, the show delivered plenty of tech announcements, proving that it can work in this format. Samsung has hosted several press events during CES, culminating with the Galaxy S21 announcement event scheduled right after CES. One of the most exciting Samsung announcements of early January came in stages, with Samsung releasing several teaser videos about the new technology before addressing it properly. Samsung used YouTube clips to tease the new OLED panels for laptops, which would allow notebook makers to increase the quality of screens while simultaneously increasing the screen-to-body ratio.

We also learned those laptops would support 90Hz refresh rates and would present an innovation unseen on notebooks before. Samsung calls it UPC, short for under panel camera. We’ve also known it as under-display camera tech, a display innovation that several smartphone vendors are working on, Samsung included. ZTE launched the first commercial handset with a UPC selfie camera, with other Chinese smartphone makers having already demoed such concepts in previous years. While Samsung introduced UPC tech for laptops, the company also teased that it wants UPC on phones. A well-known insider now claims that the first Samsung phone to sport an under-display selfie cam is closer than we thought.

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In one of Samsung’s other CES announcements, the Korean giant showed ways to “upcycle” Samsung devices you no longer use using a video. In it, the phone seen in the top image was featured. The handset looks a lot like a Galaxy Note phone that lacks a selfie camera. This could be Samsung’s cheeky way of surprising fans while teasing its UPC tech. On the other hand, Samsung has used concepts in its video shown at trade shows that had nothing to do with real projects. However, the clip seemed to suggest that the Note 21 might feature a UPC display. That is if the Galaxy Note 21 will become an actual product.

Fast forward to a month later, and Twitter user Ice Universe claims that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is “very likely” to adopt UPC tech.

The leaker has often made accurate predictions about unreleased Samsung hardware, especially phones, in the past few years, proving some sort of inside access to Samsung’s secrets. The image he uses for the UPC comes from one of those OLED panel videos that Samsung released in early January.

Samsung’s soft launch of UPC tech indicates the company is satisfied with the technology. The main problem that cameras under the display face is photo quality. The cameras have to capture light through an OLED display layer, so AI computational photography will be needed to ensure the best results. But if Samsung is ready to use UPC screens in laptops, they could be ready for smartphones.

As for the next-gen foldable handsets, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is undoubtedly the right candidate to test UPC. The first-gen Fold had an ugly selfie camera notch that was fixed last year with the help of a hole-punch screen. Swapping out the hole-punch selfie cam for an under-display camera could be the natural evolution of things.

Let’s not forget that the Z Fold phones have a screen on the outside that could keep its hole-punch camera for safety. Should the UPC camera malfunction during video calls or selfies, users could always fall back to the external display’s selfie camera.

While Ice has a great track record reporting on unreleased Samsung devices, only time will tell if this Z Fold 3 rumor is correct. The phone should be unveiled at some point this summer, so we’ll learn all of its secrets well before that happens.

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Chris Smith started writing about gadgets as a hobby, and before he knew it he was sharing his views on tech stuff with readers around the world. Whenever he's not writing about gadgets he miserably fails to stay away from them, although he desperately tries. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.