The question has always been, how do you increase a smartphone’s screen size without increasing the actual size of the phone? Do you make them foldable? Rollable? Maybe you do both? But before foldable and rollable smartphones can become a thing, immediate solution is to do away with the bezels. Getting rid of the bezels however raises one question – where do you put the front facing camera? A few answers have been tried including not removing the top/bottom bezels, reducing the top/bottom bezens to a size that can just accommodate the camera and the sensors, putting a notch on the screen, reducing the notch to dewdrop, putting the camera on screen like the way Samsung iterated the dual selphie shooters on Samsung Galaxy S10, incorporating a slider mechanism for popping up the camera as Oppo did with Oppo Find X, or just do what the manufacturers are attempting to do right now, hide the camera under the screen and call the smartphone an underscreen camera smartphone, and somehow, people love the idea.
GSMArena wanted to find out just how likeable the idea of an underscreen camera smartphone is to smartphone users and went ahead to create a poll to gauge the preference of the new tech vs the options that have been tried, including Flip-ups which support the best possible camera on a smartphone, notch/bezel embedded cameras, and pop-up cameras like the ones that came with Oppo Find X. Interestingly, out of over 6000 respondents, a whooping 63% prefer underscreen camera smartphones, even when such a camera compromises on quality of pictures.
As can be seen from the results above, the other options are preferred at the rate of about 12% by the respondents, and what this means is that people really don’t care so much about selfie pictures, what matters is better screen. This is something I have tried to communicate to the OEMs in articles such as this one.
The quality of pictures taken by underscreen camera smartphones is lower because before the light can hit the camera lens, the light must pass through the screen which reflects away some (most) of the light, hence the light reaching the lens and sensor is way too low. This means that the underscreen camera cannot work any good in low light situations like indoors particularly indoors at night. This is something that even Oppo has acknowledged, stating that the selfies taken by the prototype underscreen camera smartphone they recently showed the public are okay but not incredible, standard but not amazing. Oppo is known for championing smartphones with incredible selfies having introduced a wide angle selfie by the time it was launching in Kenya.
The public verdict that users would rather have an excellent screen and just an okay camera means that OEMs ought to go back to the drawing board and figure out just how beautiful and useful they can make those smartphone screens, with clarity, color reproduction, size, low power consumption, and durability of the display to be their main focus.