Why it matters: Xiaomi is one of multiple technology giants actively working on a front-facing smartphone camera that would sit beneath a phone’s display, effectively eliminating the unsightly notch and gimmicky pop-up cameras. It's about time.
We got a sneak peek at Xiaomi’s progress earlier this week thanks to a teaser video published on Twitter. SVP Wang Xiang followed up with a more in-depth look at the technology, highlighting how it uses a transparent display made from a special low-reflective glass with high transmittance.
When not in use, the display works like any other would, allowing content to be shown in full. Upon activating the front-facing 20-megapixel camera, the display area over the camera becomes transparent so light can enter. The transparent display doubles as the camera lens which Xiaomi said will let more light in to produce better pictures compared to pinhole cameras.
This is precisely the solution I had in mind when manufacturers starting turning out the dreaded notch and more recently, the pop-up camera, as the end of the fat bezel set in. It really is the best possible solution, assuming of course that image quality won’t suffer too much.
Then again, even if there is a noticeable drop in quality at first, it may not be that big of a deal for some. Personally, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve used the front-facing selfie camera on my phone. So long as the ugly notch goes away and I don’t have to worry about the mechanics of a motorized pop-up camera failing, I’d be happy.
Xiaomi didn’t say when its first phone with an under-display camera would hit the market but hopefully, we won’t have to wait too much longer.