Mobile Technology

ZTE Axon 20 5G set to be the first phone with an in-screen camera

ZTE Axon 20 5G set to be the f...
No notch: the ZTE Axon 20 5G puts the selfie camera under the display
No notch: the ZTE Axon 20 5G puts the selfie camera under the display
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No notch: the ZTE Axon 20 5G puts the selfie camera under the display
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No notch: the ZTE Axon 20 5G puts the selfie camera under the display
The ZTE Axon 5G has a more conventional camera on the back
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The ZTE Axon 5G has a more conventional camera on the back
Preorders for the phone are open now in China
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Preorders for the phone are open now in China
View gallery - 3 images

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.

The ZTE Axon 5G has a more conventional camera on the back
The ZTE Axon 5G has a more conventional camera on the back

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.

Source: ZTE

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3 comments
paul314
Do they blank that part of the display for the fraction of a second it takes to expose the picture? Or do they adjust for whatever pixels are being shown?
zr2s10
Considering that LG is starting to sell clear TVs, I would imagine that they can somehow work this into cell phone screens. I'd like to see a notch-less design from a better manufacturer, so LG, Samsung, or Motorola would be nice. Of course, I was fine with the old way of having top and bottom bezels. I think the notch and hole punch designs are a solution to a problem that didn't really exist. Same as in screen fingerprint sensors. The one on the back of my LG V40 is very easy to use, and works consistently well.
JeffK
Personally, I prefer to have the option of covering cameras on web capable devices as well as front facing cameras on tablets and phones. Not a selfie adict and it's easy to uncover for a video call. While it would be easy to determine the cameras location, who wants tape over part of the screen. I'm getting a bit more security conscious in this day and age.