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The world’s first phone with a camera under the screen is coming soon

Published Jun 26th, 2019 6:50AM EDT
Under-Screen Camera
Image: Oppo

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All the teasers that said the world’s first phone with a selfie camera under the screen would be unveiled this week were right. Oppo demoed at MWC 2019 Shanghai the technology that will make possible the all-screen design we all want, and said the first commercial products to pack under-screen selfie cameras are coming soon.

Ever since Apple launched the iPhone X launched, smartphone vendors raced each other to copy the notch. Then they came up with other design compromises to increase the size of the screen without completely removing the selfie camera. Oppo is one of the companies that tried both notch designs and pop-up selfie cameras or slider phones. But many of these vendors have also been working on placing the camera under the screen, with Oppo being comfortable with its progress to actually show off a prototype.

To pull it off, Oppo used a custom transparent display material that features a redesigned pixel structure, The Verge explains. That’s enough to allow light to reach the camera sensor, which is what needs to happen for it to be able to snap pictures. The sensor itself is bigger than other selfie cameras and features a wider aperture.

The transparent screen region displays images and supports touch interaction, so it works just like a screen.

Image source: YouTube

The following video from YouTube channel Sparrow News shows the Oppo prototype in action, complete with camera samples. The under-screen camera is nearly invisible, but you might notice it in some cases, depending on what’s shown on the display.

Oppo has perfected algorithms that are supposed to deal with quality issues resulting from the fact that the selfie camera is placed under a display.

Oppo says the photos are “on par with mainstream devices,” but the first samples suggest there’s still work to be done, and that’s probably why Oppo doesn’t have a launch date estimate better than “near future” for phones with under-screen cameras.

Image source: YouTube

Oppo has unveiled other mobile innovations in the past, well before making them available to the public, including the VOOC fast-charging batteries, and the periscope cameras that support improved zoom.

Xiaomi a few weeks ago also teased that it’s working on its own under-screen camera tech, but made no official announcements.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.