One of the most intriguing distinguishing features between smartphones is how they deal with the problem of front-facing cameras taking up display space.
Do they use a pop-up segment, like the Oppo Reno or OnePlus 7 Pro, a ‘punch-hole’ in the screen like the Samsung Galaxy S10, a traditional notch like the Huawei P30 – or, as Oppo now seems to be doing, do they put the camera literally underneath the screen?
Oppo announced at MWC Shanghai that it has created a camera-screen combo that lets the snapper take pictures through the display, and it’s calling it its Under-Screen Camera (USC). This means you’ll have a whole unbroken screen, and there’s no mechanical parts or missing screen chunks to compensate.
There are various features that let this work – for one, the camera module can pick up more light to let it ‘see through’ the screen better, and this screen will be designed to allow more light to get through.
On top of that pixels on the screen above the camera will be controlled when the camera is in use, although Oppo doesn’t say what this means – it’s most likely that the screen will turn off around the camera when you want to use it.
Oppo says this could have many uses – beyond the obvious (taking selfies), it could also work for face unlock and video calls, so it’s clearly not a gimmick you’ll use from time to time but a potentially important part of the phone.
When will we see USC in a phone?
The main question surrounding USC is its use in smartphones – Oppo didn’t detail which upcoming phones will have the technology, or when they will start to be available to consumers.
We’ve asked Oppo for clarification on the matter, or to see if it can give us any clues when we’ll be able to get our hands on the tech, so stay tuned for any updates in that regard.