Notches suck. The little cutouts for your phone’s front-facing camera are unsightly in any form, but like the inevitability of death and the lasting relevance of Cher, they’re just something we’ve learned to deal with. Unless you’re Chinese phone manufacturer Xiaomi: it’s been working on a camera that can hide underneath a phone screen, giving it a perfectly unbroken look.
According to an announcement from Xiaomi, the company is finalizing this tech right now, after two iterations have allowed the camera to shoot through the sub-pixels of the screen panel. It plans on mass producing the screen-and-camera combos starting in 2021.
Xiaomi claims that its camera is perfectly hidden beneath the screen when not in use, and that the screen retains the same pixel density, brightness, and color accuracy across the camera area as the rest of the screen. But even in the video, a faint outline of the camera module can be spotted. Even so, it’s a huge improvement over a big black dot. While the company says that the performance of the front-facing cam should be the same as a standard model, it has yet to provide sample shots, or even give more technical data like how many megapixels the camera is using or the resolution of the screen on top of it.
Xiaomi is the first company to state an intention to mass produce an under-display camera, though the phone models that would feature it have yet to be announced. Aesthetically, it’s an appealing touch that might bring some competition…but the smartphone industry has yet to settle on a solution to the notch, be it slightly-thicker bezels, pop-up motorized cameras, flip-around cameras, or anything else. It appears that the status quo will remain intact for at least a year or two.