Smartphone Brands Bet on Under-display Camera for Full-screen Display

Smartphone makers have introduced a variety of screen innovations since the implementation of notch design in the iPhone X in 2017, according to Counterpoint Research. The aim is to increase the screen-to-body ratio and enable a more immersive display experience.

With the pursuit of full-screen display being at the core of smartphone evolution, this trend is expected to pick up pace in the near term. Although the front camera system with pop-up, rotating or sliding mechanics had emerged as a compromise solution to remove the cut-out, it is the under-display camera technology that represents the development direction of future full-screen display.

“Together with Visionox, ZTE has released its second-generation under-display camera solution for the Axon 30 5G, which is expected to deliver more consistent display performance through algorithm and hardware optimization (the resolution of display area above the camera has doubled from 200ppi to 400ppi). Besides Visionox, solutions from other leading panel makers like Samsung Display, BOE and CSOT are close to commercialization. CSOT can also hide the front camera under an LCD screen. Therefore, a solid foundation is being laid for the increasing adoption of such solutions by smartphone OEMs like Xiaomi, Samsung and OPPO,” said research analyst Alicia Gong.

However, large-scale commercialization of under-display cameras still faces challenges, which make its mass-market penetration difficult before 2023. One of obstacles is the increase in display panel cost due to new materials and additional process steps. Another problem is lower yield rate during the ramping-up period and supply capacity constraints before 2023. Deterioration of image and display quality, particularly the loss of image clarity also presents challenge for manufacturers.

Despite the abovementioned barriers, Counterpoint Research expects the entry of major OEMs to accelerate performance improvement of the technology and make it mature. Growing investments from all industry stakeholders, right from panel makers to image sensor and chipset vendors, hold the key here. The migration to full-screen display will not only enhance smartphone appearance and experience but also bring new opportunities for the supply chain. According to Counterpoint’s Smartphone Camera research, the shipments of smartphones featuring under-display cameras will surpass the 10 million and 100 million milestones in 2022 and 2025, respectively.



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