If you're an iPhone fan you've probably been considering whether the iPhone 14 is worth waiting for or not... but have you thought about waiting anther two years for the iPhone 16?
According to reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (opens in new tab), Apple will wait until 2024 to debut its Under-Display Camera (UDC) tech, and will push Face ID below the screen too. That's the year we'd expect to see the iPhone 16, if Apple doesn't decide to take a year to launch an S-variant as it has in the past.
UDC tech enables the selfie camera to be housed under the screen, so you can't see it at a glance, and a few companies, including Samsung and ZTE, have already released phones that make use of this.
However, at the moment it's not an ideal way of reducing the screen space taken up by a front-facing camera. The display prevents a certain amount of light from hitting the camera's sensor, so selfies often end up pretty dull or dark, and while companies have used processing algorithms to offset this, it's never a perfect solution.
And it would be even more of an issue for Face ID, as the sensors require good lighting to scan your face and unlock the phone.
Kuo's post mentions "quality improvements" for the front-facing camera on Apple's 2024 iPhones, but it's not clear if he's saying these are in the works, or is simply suggesting they're important.
I think the real full-screen iPhone will come in 2024. High-end iPhones in 2024 would adopt an under-display front camera alongside the under-display Face ID. A low-light condition is detrimental to front camera quality, and ISP & algorithm are critical for quality improvements. https://t.co/vWjeZYZUPKApril 20, 2022
Analysis: that's one way to nix the notch
At the moment the iPhone 14 series is cresting the horizon, and one of the big discussions around the upcoming handset is the notch.
Apple houses its front-facing cameras, and Face ID sensors, in a fairly large notch that eats into the screen real estate. Android phone makers have for some years now been using 'punch-hole' cut-outs, pop-up cameras and UDCs as a way to retain as much display space as possible.
It's not a straight comparison though, because most Android phones don't use the same facial recognition tech as Apple's Face ID, so they don't require as many front-facing sensors, but that hasn't stopped Apple fans from demanding something similar for iPhones.
And according to these rumors it could finally be happening, as leakers think certain iPhone 14 models will get cut-out segments for the front camera and Face ID sensors.
This would be a good first step, but it likely won't actually save that much screen space, given how large Apple's Face ID array is – so maybe it should be treated simply as a stepping stone towards a cut-out-free iPhone display.
If Kuo is correct, Apple is clearly looking for a better way to hide the front cameras, and even if UDCs aren't the way it ultimately decides to go, at least it appears that the company is aware of fans' demands.