ZTE Axon 20 5G set to be the first phone with an in-screen camera
It could soon be time to say goodbye to the notch for good. ZTE has announced the Axon 20 5G smartphone, set to be the first to market with an in-screen camera that's able to snap photos from underneath the phone's display.
This is made possible via five different technologies working together, ZTE says. First there's a high transparency display material in place, including new organic and inorganic films, that allows more light through the screen. Second, ZTE has developed a special algorithm to improve "display consistency" on the front panel.
Those are combined with a dual-control chip, driver circuit and pixel matrix – which all control how images are displayed on an electronic screen – that have been custom-made to allow the camera to function from below the screen while keeping the display intact above it.
We'll have to wait and see how well this works – ZTE hasn't shown any samples of the selfie camera in action – though presumably the results must be reasonable for the phone to be going on sale. Letting enough light through to the camera while keeping the display intact is quite a technical challenge, so it'll be interesting to see some sample shots.
With a large 6.92-inch display, the ZTE Axon 20 5G comes with the mid-to-upper-range Snapdragon 765G chipset inside, plus a choice of RAM and storage options that top out at 8 GB and 256 GB respectively. There's also an in-screen fingerprint sensor under the front display, and a quad-lens 64 MP + 8 MP + 2 MP + 2 MP camera on the back. You get 5G on board, as the name gives away, and the phone is fitted with a 4,220-mAh battery that supports quick charge but not wireless charging.
As we've seen in the past, ZTE has a habit of claiming a smartphone first: as yet we don't know when the Axon 20 5G will go on sale, if it will be available outside of China, or how well this technology actually works. However, this is genuinely the first mass-market phone with an in-screen camera to be confirmed for production. It's not the first all-display phone though, because manufacturers have already been banishing the notch with pop-up and slide-out selfie cameras.
Other manufacturers won't be far behind. Xiaomi has announced it's working on similar in-screen cameras for its own phones, though they won't be ready until 2021, while Oppo has already shown off a prototype of an in-screen camera in action. It may be worth your while waiting until the technology has matured before you buy in (it took a few tries before foldables found their stride, for example).
Preorders for the ZTE Axon 20 5G are open now in China, though as we've said there's no confirmed shipping date. The starting price has been set at RMB 2,198 (that's roughly US$320 with a straight currency conversion), while the color options are blue, black, purple and orange.