Leaked renders of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 have revealed an under display camera (UDC) that's not as invisible as fans may have thought, but Xiaomi might have just come up with the most elegant solution to the problem yet.
The company has filed a patent for an under display camera that's situated in the bezel of its smartphones (via LetsGoDigital). Moving the camera off the display achieves the uninterrupted panel, free of notches and holepunches. Of course, that's also the objective with UDCs, but the technology in its current iteration doesn't yet allow for a truly invisible selfie camera that's tucked away under the screen.
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Xiaomi is already on the third generation of its under display camera tech, which we saw in action last year on a demo model of the Mi 10 Ultra. But given that some measure of light has to be allowed to pass through the panel in order for the camera to work, as well as the complications of getting a picture quality on par with a regular front-facing camera, it's not feasible for it to be completely invisible as yet.
The patent in question was granted this month, and is for a "camera lens behind the display of a mobile terminal connected to the front side by a light guide." The transparent area in the bezel is connected to a light transmitting element "where one end of [the element] is connected to a lens of the camera, and the other end of the light transmitting element is configured to transmit light from an external object to the lens of the camera." You can take a look at what that might look like in the image below:
If all of the display-side components are housed in the bezel, similar to the OnePlus patent we saw earlier this year for an in-bezel camera, then Xiaomi will have resolved the problem of the front-facing UDC while circumventing any issues with it still being partially visible under the display. And if the bezels are as thin as they are in the patent, then the company will have kicked the smartphone screen game up a notch.
Samsung may just beat Xiaomi to market with a consumer-ready UDC smartphone (although it won't be the first) but leaked renders of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 along with comments from tipsters suggest that it won't be as invisible as we're all hoping. Xiaomi has been beavering away on the tech for years now, so it may have figured out that this workaround is a better solution than forging ahead with what can currently be achieved and compromising as a result.
Samsung scuppered things up with the launch of its first foldable so it'll be interesting to see how incorporating a largely unproven piece of tech into its still pretty fresh foldables will pan out. But Xiaomi may have just cracked it.