Under-display cameras do a neat trick, allowing manufacturers to build all-screen phones without complex pop-up selfie cameras. Now, Xiaomi has unveiled its third-generation of under-display cameras and promised that the technology will be coming to the mass market “next year.”
Cameras that live under the screen present two problems: creating a dark “hole” on the display above the camera while making selfie photos look hazy and dull. Xiaomi said its third-generation tech can “perfectly disguise the front camera under the phone’s screen without ruining the edge-to-edge display effect.” In other words, you get a seamless full-screen display with nary a punch hole, cutout or other blemish in sight, while matching regular front cameras for photo quality.
Xiaomi developed its own pixel grid arrangement that allows light to pass through the gap area of sub-pixels. At the same time, each single pixel has a complete RGB subpixel layout with no sacrifice in pixel density. All of that means that the display pixel density above the camera is the same as elsewhere on the screen, showing the “same brightness, color gamut and color accuracy.” Xiaomi also optimized the camera algorithm, claiming it performs the same as conventional front cameras.
So far, we haven’t seen great performance on prototype under-display selfie cameras, so we’ll have to see Xiaomi’s system to believe it. In any case, we should get a taste of the technology on a mass-production camera soon, as ZTE’s Axon 20 5G with the first mass-produced under-display camera will arrive on September 1st. Xiaomi’s tech won’t arrive until 2021, but it could have the edge in technology if the claims are accurate.