Samsung is one of the many companies with exciting flagship smartphones that always leak long before the planned official announcements. For years, we’ve known everything there was to know about the latest Galaxy S and Note flagships weeks before their Unpacked press events. Leaks usually start a few months before the show, and they cover everything we want to know. The designs, specs, new features, and pricing usually leak from separate, well-informed sources, and by the time announcements roll around, we already have a complete picture.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 respects the same rules of engagement. A large number of leaks told us all of the phone’s secrets, including a feature we’ve been waiting for years to see on smartphones. The new foldable is expected to be Samsung’s first phone with an Under Panel Camera (UPC), which means the lens is under an active part of the screen that displays content when the camera is not in use. Now, a new discovery indicates that Samsung has given UPC tech a lot of thought, and we might see it in all sorts of devices down the road — including Samsung’s first phones with rollable screens.
Samsung already introduced the UPC marketing name for cameras placed under the screen earlier this year, when it unveiled its new OLED screen for laptops. Samsung announced its UPC screens a few weeks ago with an initial focus on notebooks, but the Korean giant said UPC screens would also equip mobile devices.
Dutch blog LetsGoDigital found another interesting Samsung patent that covers technology for phones with rollable displays. Samsung isn’t the first to come up with the idea of turning a phone into a tablet by packing a rollable display inside the phone chassis. LG wanted to launch a similar device this year before shuttering its smartphone business, and Oppo has demoed its own rollable handset a couple of times already.
Samsung isn’t talking publicly about the rollable device, but it keeps envisioning new tech for it. The latest patent, Rollable electronic device including clearance compensation structure, was published only a few days ago after being filed with the USPTO last November.
As seen in these illustrations, the patent covers all the design aspects related to a device with a rollable screen. This includes an under-panel camera and an in-display fingerprint sensor. Samsung’s illustrations also indicate the handset will feature additional sensors under the screen, like proximity and light sensors.
Interestingly, the device lacks any physical side buttons. Another unexpected feature is the heart rate sensor on the back, a feature we haven’t seen on any Samsung flagships for a few years.
While the existence of a patent isn’t enough to confirm the technology described in it will be implemented in commercial devices, the Samsung rollable phone patent proves that Samsung is interested in this particular form factor. Samsung has already registered Z Slide and Z Roll trademarks that could be used for such devices.
More importantly, the patent shows that Samsung is looking at adding UPC tech to all sorts of devices, including smartphones that are more challenging to manufacture. This suggests that Samsung might use UPC in all kinds of smartphones soon, not just flagships like the Galaxy Z Fold 3 that’s supposed to launch in early August.
Samsung will not be the only company to make UPC tech available to the masses. Some Chinese smartphone makers that have been perfecting the same under-display cameras should launch devices with true all-screen designs later this year.