Xiaomi's under-display cameras are coming to phones in 2021

(Image credit: Future)

Notches and selfie cameras continue to be the last hurdle on the way to truly full-screen displays. While we’ve seen numerous creative workarounds for them, in the future, they would be concealed under the display itself. With its new breakthrough, Xiaomi is hoping to jump on to this bandwagon, and do it fast. 

Xiaomi today shared its success in creating a display which can perfectly disguise the front camera under the screen, creating a truly full-screen form factor without any obtrusions. When implemented, smartphones will be able to offer the usual selfie experience without the need for a notch, punch-hole or moving mechanisms. The company also confirmed that the mass production of phones with this tech will begin next year. Even though a specific timeline wasn’t mentioned, we expect it to debut on a premium product first.

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Xiaomi aims to bring this technology to the mass market next year.

Xiaomi also shared some background information on how the third-generation under-display camera technology was developed. The first implementation was silently worked on and wasn’t showcased to the public. The second model was showcased as a working prototype a year ago, but it wasn’t perfect and had light transmission issues. 

That has been addressed with the new development via a self-developed pixel arrangement which allows light to pass through the gap between sub-pixels, allowing individual pixels to retain the complete RGB layout. This was achieved by increasing the horizontal and vertical pixel density of the area above the camera sensor, so as to maintain visual parity with the rest of the display. The circuitry for the module was also redesigned to hide the components under the sub-pixels and further increase light transmission to the camera. It is being supplied by TCL’s Huaxing subsidiary.

A similar implementation was also referred to in a recent patent by Xiaomi which showed a smartphone where a part of the display would become transparent when the front camera is activated, returning to a normal display at other times. 

If that seems like a long wait, the ZTE Axon 20 launching next week will be the first smartphone with a functional under-display camera to become available for purchase. We can expect more manufacturers to unveil their hidden selfie camera solutions in the future, with wider availability next year.

Aakash Jhaveri

Aakash is the engine that keeps TechRadar India running, using his experience and ideas to help consumers get to the right products via reviews, buying guides and explainers. Apart from phones, computers and cameras, he is obsessed with electric vehicles.