The Galaxy S10 is heavily rumored to have a punch hole in the screen for its selfie camera, rather than a notch or bezel, but this doesn’t remove the problem of the camera taking up screen space. However, a patent from the company may point to a solution.
Spotted by LetsGoDigital, a recently published patent details a "full screen smartphone with second display area." What that means is a tiny transparent display on top of the front-facing camera, which doesn’t prevent the camera and other sensors from functioning.
Examples of how the display could be used include showing a shutter picture when using the camera or a heart icon when using the fingerprint scanner or a heart rate monitor.
It also shows the potential for a colored ring around the lens, which for example could be red when the camera isn’t yet ready for use and green when it is. This ring could also be used as a charging indicator.
Another example is for the colored ring to blink, which could be useful when using the camera timer function, as each blink could indicate a second.
And the secondary display would theoretically be capable of showing animations, rather than just static images, though it would be lower resolution than the main screen.
Probably not coming soon
So will the Samsung Galaxy S10 have this feature? We wouldn’t hold our breath. Patents don’t always get used and if this was going to feature on the Galaxy S10 we’d think it would have been rumored before now.
But it is possible. For one thing, the patent specifically notes that the secondary screen could work on a pill-shaped punch hole as well as a circular one, meaning it could be compatible with both the Galaxy S10 and the dual-lens Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus.
For another, Samsung has already launched the Galaxy A8S, which has a camera with a light ring around it. The ring can’t change color and there’s no display over the camera, but that’s at least a step towards what the patent shows.
For now, we’d say it’s unlikely that the Galaxy S10 will feature this, but you never know, and it’s certainly possible that a future Samsung phone will.
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James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.