iPhone 12 and Samsung Galaxy Note 20 BEATEN by this high-tech challenger?

Xiaomi could be getting an under-screen camera before Apple's iPhone 12 or Samsung's Note 20 can manage it

Xiaomi LetsGoDigital
(Image credit: LetsGoDigital)

iPhone 12 and Samsung Galaxy Note 20 are very advanced handsets set to debut later this year. Both will reportedly pack state-of-the-art technology, amazing camera systems and the very best processors. We have heard the Note 20, at least, will come with the 5G-enabled Exynos 992 chipset, a technology even more advanced than the Samsung Galaxy S20 series.

If there's one thing missing (or at least, a breakthrough we've not heard about yet) it's an under-screen selfie camera. Apple's FaceID software requires at least several front-facing sensors in addition to the camera in order to accurately recognise unique facial features. 

This means modern iPhones have a big unsightly notch in the screen. The Samsung Galaxy range's screens have opted for less intrusive punch-holes, but the "all glass" bezel-less, notch-less look is still a highly coveted prize. 

Some companies have opted for gimmicky pop-up or sliding cameras in order to avoid marring the screen with camera notches, but we can't wait for the under-screen camera – the most elegant solution to this problem – to start featuring on flagship handsets. 

It looks like the feature is coming, but not to Apple or Samsung phones quite yet. Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi has filed a patent application, discovered by Dutch outlet LetsGoDigital, featuring one of their Mi smartphones with an under-screen camera. 

Featuring one potential camera positioning on the left hand side of the display and another dead centre, the camera would be obscured by the screen unless the camera app has been opened. Once the app has been launched, the part of the screen hiding the camera becomes transparent.  

(Image credit: LetsGoDigital)

One of the biggest problems with under-screen cameras is getting enough light to shine through the display. Turning that particular part of the screen temporarily transparent is an elegant solution to this problem. 

Oppo and Samsung have already successfully made an under-screen camera prototype in partnership, as the manufacturers jointly announced last year. However, the technology has yet to be brought to market. If Xiaomi is able to beat its rivals to the punch, it would be a real feather in the cap for the emerging Chinese brand. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 20

(Image credit: TT Technology)

However, we must stress a patent at this early stage does not mean the feature is immediately on its way. We're unlikely to see an under-screen camera on any of this year's models, as the feature is still in early development.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 launch has been confirmed by a Samsung blog post. Set to be unveiled in July, the Note series revamp follows on from the successful debut of the S20 series by offering comparable specs, a more advanced processor and likely a redesigned S Pen.

The iPhone 12, meanwhile, was originally due to debut in September during Apple's annual showcase. However, the launch has been delayed by up to two months as shutdowns caused by the global health crisis affects production across the tech industry.

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Matt Evans

Matt Evans now works for T3.com sister brand TechRadar, covering all things relating to fitness and wellness. He came to T3.com as staff writer before moving on, and was previously on Men's Health, and slightly counterintuitively, a website devoted to the consumption of Scotch whiskey. In his free time, he could often be found with his nose in a book until he discovered the Kindle.