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Circuit Breaker

Lenovo teases what might be the first true ‘all screen’ phone

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Here comes the Z5

Sketch of the Lenovo Z5
Drawing: Chang Cheng

Lenovo vice president Chang Cheng is teasing a new phone on China’s Weibo social network that’s nothing but screen framed by an ultra-thin bezel (via CNET). While Apple might claim that the iPhone X is “all screen,” its infamous notch — and the rash of Android imitators that followed — says otherwise.

The sketch of the upcoming Lenovo Z5 follows the earlier release of a partial image alongside a claim that the phone would feature an impressive screen-to-body ratio of 95 percent. Cheng also says the Z5 will include four technological breakthroughs, including 18 patented technologies. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait for the details, particularly around how Lenovo will handle a presumed front-facing camera.

Z5 teaser shared last week.
Image: Chang Cheng

The Mi Mix 2, for example, has a 91.3 percent screen-to-body ratio, which is among the industry’s best, but it still requires a bezel along the bottom to host the phone’s front-facing camera. Vivo’s Apex concept uses a pop-up selfie camera to help trim the bezels, but it still requires a similar “chin” to hide the OLED’s display controller. Only Apple, thus far, has found a way to avoid the chin by folding the OLED panel back underneath itself.

Several other technologies have been introduced over the past few years to enable so-called “bezel-less” designs on modern phones. In-display fingerprint sensors are now a reality, as are ultrasound proximity sensors and piezoelectric earpieces as seen in the Xiaomi Mi Mix back in 2016.

Lenovo, whose $2.91 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility from Google has fallen short of expectations, is being beaten at home and abroad by local brands Huawei, Vivo, Oppo, and Xiaomi. The tech giant is desperate for a hit phone that can capture the world’s attention.

You’ve got our attention Lenovo. Now, can you deliver on our lofty expectations?