Smartphones could have selfie cameras hidden under the display

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Smartphones could soon hide the front-facing selfie camera underneath the display, as tech giants race to find new ways to provide more screen space.

Chinese handset makers Oppo and Xiaomi have launched into an early battle over the technology, tweeting videos of prototypes of their technology.

The so-called ‘under-display’ selfie camera is concealed entirely behind the phone’s screen, with no need for any notches or hole-punches, seen in Samsung and Honor devices.

Oppo was first to show off its take on the invisible concept, before Xiaomi swiftly followed suit, though it is not entirely clear how either of the innovations work. 

Oppo vice president Brian Shen wrote on Chinese social media site Weibo that there would be some loss of optical quality compared with normal cameras at this early stage. 

‘For those seeking the perfect, notchless smartphone screen experience – prepare to be amazed,’ the company later posted on Twitter. 

Not wasting any time, Chinese firm Xiaomi also tweeted a video showcasing their device, writing: ‘Do you want a sneak peek at the future? Here you go…’.

Just hours after Oppo revealed their prototype, Xiaomi hit back with its own take on the new technology. 

Xiaomi president Lin Bin posted a video to Weibo  which they later posted to Twitter of the Xiaomi Mi 9 with a front facing camera concealed entirely behind the phone’s screen. 

There was no indication when the companies intend to make such technology available to the public. 

Smartphone manufacturers have long been exploring alternative front-facing camera ideas in a bid to increase the amount of space users have on their display. 

The Phone Talks notes that Xiaomi recently filed for a patent that appears to cover similar functionality, which uses two alternately-driven display portions to allow light to pass through to the camera sensor. 

Apple kicked off the notch trend when it launched the iPhone X 2017, leading to a spread of similar designs.

Pinhole cut-outs started to appear and more recently pop-up front-facing cameras that slide out of the top of the handset. 

Other attempts to increase smartphone display space include the foldable smartphone, of which Samsung and Huawei have both unveiled devices, although Samsung has delayed the release of its Galaxy Fold after some early reviewers reported issues with the phone’s screen. 

Samsung has a proven record that it’s capable of releasing ambitious phone designs. 

At its Unpacked event in February, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Fold, making it one of the first major gadget makers to bring a folding phone to market.  

Samsung said in a presentation last October that it was looking into several different technologies to maximize screen space, according to The Verge. 

Among the other designs Samsung is considering are in-display speakers, as well as haptic feedback sensors embedded in the screen.       

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