Samsung was expected to have been researching it first but Xiaomi and OPPO were the first to flaunt working prototypes of under-screen front cameras. Both, however, are being upstaged by ZTE who has pre-announced its upcoming Axon 20 5G as the world’s first commercially available phone with that technology. Xiaomi doesn’t seem to be worried at all because come 2021, it boasts it will have the best version thanks to its third-gen under-display camera technology.
What the public saw last year was really just Xiaomi’s second major attempt at that kind of screen, the first never having left the lab at all. While it was usable, Xiaomi also admitted that the technology was not ready yet because the display above the camera had fewer pixels than the rest of the screen, resulting in a lower pixel density and a dimmer part of the screen.
This third-gen solution fixes that problem by putting all the pixels back where they should be. The difference with regular panels is that Xiaomi’s panel actually lets light through the gaps between subpixels and right into the camera sensor underneath.
The result, at least in theory, is that you get the best of both worlds. You have a display that looks normal and uniform across the entire surface, including the circle where the camera hides beneath. Xiaomi also claims that you get the same performance as conventional front cameras, partly thanks to its camera algorithms as well.
Xiaomi seems confident enough in this third major iteration that it will be kicking off mass production of phones that use it next year. That’s still a long wait, though, giving OPPO some time to beat it to the punch. Of course, there’s also the ZTE Axon 20 5G, whose debut has been scheduled for September 1.