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Xiaomi’s under-display camera tech will ship in smartphones next year

Xiaomi’s under-display camera tech will ship in smartphones next year

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Technically it’s the third generation of the technology

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Xiaomi intends to start mass-producing smartphones equipped with its under-display camera technology next year, the company announced today. This is technically the third generation of the technology Xiaomi has developed, the company says, although the first and second versions it produced have yet to find their way into a mass-market consumer device. Xiaomi showed off the technology compared to a more traditional hole-punch notch in a video posted to its YouTube channel.

According to Xiaomi, its latest version of the technology works by allowing the selfie camera to see through the gaps in the display’s sub-pixels, which are the red, green, and blue dots that combine to make each pixel. Xiaomi says that the area of the display above the camera has the same density of pixels as the rest of the screen, so it can “perfectly disguise” the selfie camera underneath. Xiaomi adds that the selfie camera itself should match the performance of more typical front-facing cameras.

A diagram from Xiaomi shows how its new under-display tech compares to other versions.
A diagram from Xiaomi shows how its new under-display tech compares to other versions.
Image: Xiaomi

Although it says that the screen area above the camera should match the “brightness, color gamut, and color accuracy” of the rest of the display, Xiaomi’s blog post doesn’t mention whether the panel itself is OLED or LCD, or what kind of resolution we can expect it to be.

Despite Xiaomi’s claims that the selfie camera is perfectly disguised, there still appears to be a small square shadow visible behind the display at the 0:29 mark in its promotional video.

Seen at the 29 second mark of the promotional video.
Seen at the 29 second mark of the promotional video.

Images posted to Twitter by Ice Universe of the device appear to show a similar, albeit very faint, round discoloration where the selfie camera is.

Smartphone manufacturers have been teasing under-display cameras for a little while now, but so far the technology is yet to see proper commercialization. Xiaomi and Oppo both introduced the technology back in June last year, and Oppo showed off a working prototype that month at MWC Shanghai. However, Engadget reported at the time that the effect wasn’t perfect, and that the area of the screen above the camera appeared more pixelated than the rest of the screen. Vivo had also planned to show its take on the technology in a concept phone at MWC this year before the event was cancelled due to the coronavirus.

Xiaomi might not end up being the first smartphone manufacturer to bring the technology to a mass-market device, though. Earlier this month, ZTE said it would be launching a smartphone with an under-display camera on September 1st called the ZTE Axon 20 5G. However, it’s currently unclear whether the device will launch outside of China.

Update August 28th, 8:22AM ET: Updated with Xiaomi’s promotional video.

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