After Oppo, Xiaomi and ZTE, the newest brand to jump onto the under-display camera bandwagon is Samsung. The company is reportedly in the early stages of developing new under-display camera technology for smartphones of the future. If we are to go by a patent filed by Samsung earlier today, Samsung has proposed a rather interesting solution for the same.
The patent, leaked by the good folks over at LetsGoDigital, was filed on June 19, 2020, at WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Office. Based on the information and visuals contained in the patent, LetsGoDigital has created a series of animated illustrations showing a Samsung smartphone with a dual-camera module. The interesting thing about this is how the camera and LED flash are both invisible when not in use. For this, Samsung has developed a very sophisticated mechanism.
Let's delve deeper, shall we?
A motorized intermediate screen to hide the selfie camera
As seen in the images below, Samsung's solution for an under-display camera is to have a transparent area, centred at the top of the slab, where the "Infinity-O" punch is usually located. A second screen, also known as a sub-display, of identical quality, is placed below the transparent area. Directly underneath this sits the front camera module which integrates a sensor and an LED flash.
Unlike the case of Oppo, Xiaomi and ZTE, where the under-display camera needs the tiny part of the OLED screen to become transparent, so as to allow as much light as possible, Samsung's method seems to be - at least on paper - among the better under-display camera tech we have seen so far.
In case you haven't fully understood how this works, basically what Samsung has done here is to motorize the aforementioned sub-screen in such a way that it can be moved 'away' when the user needs the camera. Call this in an internal pop-up camera mechanism of sorts – except this time, it's not the camera - but the sub-screen that moves.
As LetsGoDigital explains, as soon as the selfie camera is activated, the sub-screen moves down, allowing the camera to capture images with zero obstructions – thereby offering much getter image quality when compared to current under-display camera systems.
The transparent area of the screen can also move from left to right so that only part of the front photo module remains visible. This is because it is not always necessary for the entire photo module to be visible.
The smartphone would therefore be able, according to this patent, to automatically adjust in which direction to move the transparent area. But the user can also trigger this movement manually. On the right side of the device, additional functionality is added to the power button to control the movement of the sub-screen.
A touch-sensitive and S-Pen compatible sub-display
In addition, the sub-screen is equipped with a touch sensor, so that the user can also operate this additional screen with his finger. By pressing the sensor twice or dragging it, you can manually trigger the movement of the screen.
LetsGoDigital also mentions that the subscreen can display notifications or alarm. For example, if the user receives a message or an e-mail, the corresponding icon is displayed in the sub-display. Clicking on it displays the message menu or the e-mail application on the large screen. The patent also indicates that the display can also be used with the Samsung S Pen. This means that this feature if it materializes, will be available on the manufacturer's high-end smartphones
All things said, please do note that this technology is still on paper as of now. Personally, I don't see Samsung testing such an innovative but also complicated and risky function on one of its future flagship models like the Galaxy S22.