This Chinese smartphone company found a creative place to put the selfie camera

Posted at 12:58 PM, Jun 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-26 14:58:22-04

One day, our phones may just be smooth panes of glass.

We’re still a ways off from that future, but Chinese smartphone maker Oppo is bringing us one step closer with a new selfie camera located underneath the glass display of a smartphone. The company posted new images and video of the technology to Twitter and gave hands-on demos at Mobile World Congress Shanghai Wednesday.

The result is a smooth, bezelless device that isn’t marred by indentations or protrusions where the cameras are. The touch screen still works where the camera is located.

The camera will be invisible during video streaming, web browsing, mobile gaming, and even video calls, according to Oppo. But for selfies, a circular animation will activate briefly to indicate where the camera is.

Oppo first teased the new technology in a video on social media on June 3. Shortly after, rival phone company Xiaomi posted a video on Twitter, saying, “Do you want a sneak peek at the future? Here you go…introducing you to Under-Display Camera technology!”

Xiaomi’s response seems to be an early indication that this tech is being developed by multiple companies. If under-display cameras actually work, we may see other phonemakers also jump in.

Still, the new technology appears to have some shortcomings. Oppo vice president Shen Yiren, who also goes by Brian, lamented twice on his Weibo social media account that the images taken by the camera aren’t as crisp and clear as those taken by a protruding camera. Oppo claimedon Twitter that algorithms would help remove any haze around the camera and touch up the images.

The physical home button has been removed in many newer flagship smartphones and replaced with a fingerprint sensor located under the display.

Oppo has a history of experimenting with how to make phones more seamless and closer to that pane of glass vision. The company has tried adding a pop-up selfie camera that slides up from behind the display. It also tried minimizing the notch made infamous by Apple’s iPhone X.

Oppo didn’t give specifics on a timeline for a phone with an under display selfie camera. There’s also no word on whether the rear cameras will be similarly hidden away by glass. Oppo and Xiaomi did not respond to requests for comment by press time.