Samsung’s under-display camera tech will debut on a laptop first

Samsung Display

(Image credit: Samsung Display)

Samsung Display has shared a teaser video of its new under-screen camera technology for laptops, allowing them to do away with thick bezels to accommodate the webcam. 

Under-display cameras are said to be the next big thing in design, doing away with the need for punch-holes or notches on phones and thicker bezels on laptops. While a couple of manufacturers have shown off working prototypes of the concept, the ZTE Axon 20 5G remains as the only commercially available smartphone to sport an actual selfie camera that is concealed under the display. Samsung is expected to join the fray soon, along with Xiaomi and Oppo.

It looks like Samsung’s first product will, in fact, be a laptop, as teased by Samsung Display on Weibo. Called “Blade Bezel”, the technology will allow OLED screens to have much slimmer bezels. Instead of the camera taking up space on the top edge, it will be embedded under the display where webcams usually lie. This Under Panel Camera (UPC) approach also enables thinner and lighter panels, with arbitrary numbers such as 1mm thickness and 130 grams of weight mentioned without talking about the display size. On the same lines, the screen-to-body ratio can be pushed up to 93% from the usual 85% for a more immersive experience.

It remains to be seen how Samsung will address the issue of subpar image quality, as the light transmission to the camera is seriously hampered when it passes through a display layer. It will also have to look for software solutions such as pixel-binning, denoising and reconstruction to achieve the desired effect. 

There is some consolation though, as pulling off an under-display camera on a laptop is likely to be easier, thanks to the larger space to play around with as well the fact that laptop cameras are not used as often as a phone’s — the quality setbacks might not be that evident. However, in a time when video conferencing is at an all-time high, the margin for error is slim.

Some rumours suggest that the first Samsung phone to adopt UPC will be the Z Fold 3 or the Note 21.

January 15, 2021
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