Samsung built its smartphone empire by copying the iPhone extensively, using Apple’s hardware and software designs to dramatically improve its own lackluster Galaxy S phones. That’s not to say Samsung isn’t an innovator in its own right, but the company ha been less willing to take major risks than its biggest rival, which also happens to be a lucrative business partner when it comes to smartphone parts. On the other hand, Samsung was also the only major smartphone maker that didn’t copy the iPhone X’s notch design a couple of years ago. It didn’t even try to replicate Apple’s 3D face unlock technology, which was a first for smartphones. Few companies actually pulled it off, with the list including just Xiaomi and Huawei in 2018, as well as LG, Huawei, and Google this year. But Samsung could come up with its own version of Face ID soon, although a Galaxy S11 with 3D face unlock support might look a lot better than the iPhone 11 and Pixel 4 phones.
The iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max all have the same notch that the iPhone X introduced, although the Face ID components have evolved since 2017. The Pixel 4 will have a more traditional smartphone design, featuring a large top bezel that will incorporate face recognition and Motion Sense components.
A new Samsung design patent that TigerMobiles discovered, meanwhile, might give us a glimpse at what the Galaxy S11 could look like. The phone in the image below features a triple hole-punch camera on the front, which means Samsung would have three distinct sensors in that screen for various functions.
Placing three cameras on the front of the phone seems like overkill, so the simplest explanation here is that the phone would pack 3D face unlock components — here’s what that looks like on the iPhone:
As always with patents of any kind, the intellectual property that companies seek to protect might not always make it into consumer devices, and the same goes for this triple hole-punch camera. We might never see it on a phone, especially if under-display sensors are ready for prime time soon. Also worth noting is that the patent was filed last December.
Nevertheless, the fact that Samsung is considering including three sensors in a display is certainly revealing, suggesting that Samsung hasn’t abandoned the idea of having more sophisticated front-facing camera designs. The Galaxy Note 10 features a single hole-punch camera placed in the middle of the phone. A few versions of the Galaxy S10, meanwhile, feature dual-lens front-facing cameras placed inside oblong holes.
The Galaxy S11 will probably be unveiled next February, just like most of its predecessors, by which time we’ll know everything about the phone, design choices included.