Ever since the first notched phone hit the market, we've all been yearning for the next evolution in smartphone design. Under-display cameras have been in the works for some time — I got to see an Oppo prototype last year — but ZTE will be the first company to announce a phone featuring the futuristic tech that you can actually buy next month. Not to be outdone, Xiaomi has unveiled its third-generation under-display camera solution which it aims to include in a product sometime next year.
Xiaomi boasts that this latest iteration is able to "perfectly disguise the front camera under the phone’s screen without ruining the edge-to-edge display effect." The video below is intended to illustrate this, although it's perhaps too low-quality to show how far the technology has really come. It seems as though the camera in this concept phone is still in the top left corner like the punch-hole device it's being compared to, and it might be possible to make it out when you look closely. You could argue that the center would be a better position for this since it wouldn't mess with the time and notification icons. We'll have to wait and see what it looks like in real life before passing judgment, though.
Compared with previous efforts, Xiaomi says its third-gen tech has been improved thanks to self-developed pixel arrangement and enhancements to its camera processing to allow for better-looking selfies. This is much needed since potato-quality photos are something we've long expected from this kind of camera setup. With some pixel manipulation, the company's engineers have been able to pass light through the gaps between sub-pixels and this allows for better coverage without sacrificing pixel density or camera quality. Apparently, this means no loss in brightness or color accuracy in the area of the screen above the camera.
With the Oppo demo I previously saw up close, it was very clear that the portion of the screen above the camera was different from the rest, so if Xiaomi is able to obscure this, it'll be some feat. Expect to hear (and see) more from Xiaomi in the coming months as we look forward to a flagship phone next year with no notch, pop-up, punch-hole, or any other sub-optimal front camera solution.