OPPO has shown off a concept smartphone built for the future at its scheduled Innovation Day showcase in Shenzhen. The device comes with no ports, physical buttons and has a feature you probably won’t find on Samsung’s forthcoming Galaxy S11 series.
You might not be that familiar with Oppo, but the Chinese tech giant headquartered in the city of Shenzhen is usually one of the first to experiment with new smartphone innovations. Last year the firm released its bezel-exterminating Find X that took the industry by surprise with its motorised pop-up selfie camera system. More recently, Oppo released the Reno 10X Zoom that still offers one of the most diverse photography experiences on a smartphone.
Oppo isn’t stopping there. During its Innovation Day in Shenzhen this week the firm showed off a working prototype of a smartphone built for the future that comes with no ports, physical buttons and boasts a front-facing camera underneath its display. The latter of which is a feature not even Samsung’s forthcoming Galaxy S11 is expected to boast. Instead, the South Korean tech giant is expected to once again employ a hole-punch cutout at the top of the device.
Oppo’s handset isn’t expected to release in any capacity, so don’t go thinking this is the Reno 4. However, it’s likely the technologies showcased will make their way into future Oppo smartphones.
During Oppo’s Innovation Day showcase, Express.co.uk had the chance to go hands-on with the concept device and here are our full impressions…
Let’s start with that new selfie camera system. Just like fingerprint sensors, it’s expected front-facing cameras will eventually be embedded under a phone’s display so there’s no need for a notch, display cutout or a pop-up camera system.
Oppo’s concept phone with a selfie camera under the display is excellent. Still a little ways to go before it’s completely hidden, but awesome work in progress. @OPPOMobileUK #OPPOINNODay #OPPO pic.twitter.com/4Cxn1OuRAH
— Joe Carey (@JosephMarkCarey) December 11, 2019
The single sensor isn’t really noticeable if your phone screen is off or if you’re running apps in all their dark mode glory. You really have to meticulously inspect the phone underneath a light to see it.
If you load up a bright white screen though, you’ll notice the individual pixels above the front camera are actually slightly larger than the rest of the phone. Oppo said this is necessary to allow more light to reach the sensor to help produce bright and detailed shots.
That does mean you’ll see a noticeable square outline in some circumstances, which could be distracting during day-to-day usage.
So what’s the quality of the new sensor like? Well, it’s certainly worse than most traditional selfie cameras out there, but not by much. During Express.co.uk’s testing, the photos taken by Oppo’s concept phone didn’t play nicely with highlights. We can’t help but think that’s because there’s a display and layer of glass placed on top of it.
When you go to take a selfie, the portion of the Oppo phone’s OLED display that sits on top of the camera turns off, allowing more light to hit the sensor so you to take a shareable front-facing photo or video.
Remember when everyone kicked up a fuss when Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 back in 2016? Well, Oppo’s concept phone takes things a step further by removing the USB-C port. That’s right, apart from holes for two small microphones on its top and bottom, the concept device is completely free of ports.
Oppo believes the future of charging is wireless. In fact, the firm even sat demo units of the phone next to 30W wireless chargers to suggest we’ve almost reached a point where wired charging could be a thing of the past.
And then there’s the buttons… or lack thereof. As was initially rumoured with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 earlier this year (but never came to fruition), Oppo’s concept phone comes without physical buttons. Instead you’ll find indents on the side of the device that are pressure sensitive and will provide haptic feedback when pressed.
During our testing, the new input method worked extremely well and seemed more accurate that Huawei’s on-display volume adjustment solution it debuted on the Mate 30 Pro back in September.
Using Oppo’s concept device felt like stepping a couple of years into the future – it’s certainly not hard to envisage a day where smartphones are port-less, completely free of bezels and have all kinds of technological wizardry housed under their displays. Until then, you’ll have to make do with notches, display cutouts and everything else in-between.