7, Mar 2018

Meizu to create a 100% screen-to-body ratio phone with "in-display camera" patent

If you ever thought the iPhone X's camera notch was a bad idea, Meizu might have just the solution.

FullView displays where the screen takes up almost the entire front face of a phone are all the rage these days. To make this design work, the traditional home button has been removed from the bottom of the phone, but there are still some components that can't be removed, like the selfie camera and various sensors on the front of the phone. Well, Meizu has figured out that if they want a phone that is nothing but screen, they need to solve that problem: by creating an "in-display camera." Yes, that means Meizu wants to put a camera under the screen.

That is the content of a new patent Meizu filed for a full-screen phone. The patent details a device with a camera hidden at the top part of the screen, with two sensors flanking it. In addition, a small slit at the top of the phone serves as the ear speaker grill for taking calls. The design is certainly avant-garde, but one that consumers have been asking for almost a decade. Devices like the iPhone X and the Essential PH-1 solved the problem of the camera by introducing a notch at the top of the phone for the camera. The Essential PH-1 had the more elegant solution of the two, but it still ended up with an unsightly break in the display. Meizu's solution is far more ideal and allows for a screen-to-body ratio much closer to 100%.

Unfortunately, at this time it is unclear how this technology works, or whether Meizu already has a working prototype of such a display and camera. The most obvious issue with this solution is that cameras need a clear unobstructed line of sight to the subject, and a display has images on it that could interfere with this line of sight. One solution, of course, would be to turn the display off when taking images, but it's unclear if current screen technology will provide the crystal clear transparency needed for such a thing to happen.

Hopefully, this isn't just another patent that goes nowhere. The rumors say that Meizu is readying a pair of models to make use of this technology, the Meizu 15 and the Meizu 15 Plus, and another rumor says these devices will be coming sometime between March and June of this year. If Meizu pulls this off, it may be the first killer development in the FullView smartphone wars since the inception of the 18:9 aspect ratio.