This could be the year that smartphones gain an interesting new feature, in the form of a front-facing selfie camera that is hidden beneath the display.
The component is known as an Under Display Camera, and its appearance on smartphones comes just a couple of years after we began to see fingerprint readers buried beneath the screen in a similar way.
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Such a camera first appeared on the ZTE Axon 20 5G at the end of 2020, but the phone's photography abilities were criticized by reviewers and the under display camera technology was seen as half-baked at best.
Now though, it is claimed that such cameras will feature on at least five smartphones, from five different manufacturers, before the end of 2021 – and the cameras they use will reportedly be much better than ZTE's first attempt.
This claim comes from Ice Universe, a Twitter account with a good track record when it comes to smartphone news and predicting future models, particularly by Samsung. The anonymous account tweeted today: "The second half of the year is when the Under Display Camera officially debuts, including at least Samsung (folding), Xiaomi (MIX4), OPPO (folding), Vivo and ZTE (greatly improved version)".
Although nothing is said about the specifications of these cameras, and the tweet is vague about which models will feature the technology, we can make some informed assumptions. If the information is accurate, we could see an under display camera on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 later in 2021, Oppo's first folding phone (which was previously rumored to arrive in June), and a much better camera than that of the ZTE Axon 20 5G.
We are most excited about the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, which we hope will have a slimmer design than the current Fold 2, an improved folding display, and of course the under display camera. The phone is expected to arrive in the summer and is also rumored to be gaining support for Samsung's S Pen stylus for the first time – a move that could signal the end of the Galaxy Note smartphone range.
If the technology works well, we expect to see under display cameras appear on my phones in the coming years, and it could lead to display bezels becoming smaller, and punch-hole cameras disappearing. It may even eventually lead to Apple removing the notch of the iPhone and using an under display camera instead. We can't see that happening to the iPhone this year, however, as Apple is rarely first when it comes to adopting new technologies.