September 28, 2020

Huawei patents a phone with a display between its quad cameras

Talk about one hell of a camera bump.

Huawei P40 Pro Plus camera on table

  • LetsGoDigital uncovered a Huawei design patent showcasing a phone with a secondary display affixed to its camera array.
  • The document shows off multiple variations of the same design.

What you see below is a Huawei design patent uncovered by Dutch tech site LetsGoDigital. China’s National Intellectual Property Administration published the images last week. They show potential mockups for a phone that features a secondary rear display.

Huawei design patent

But even if you’ve seen some unusual designs in the past, this one might have you scratching your head. In one of the renders, the screen sits awkwardly in the middle of the camera array, separating the four lenses into two groups. In the two other images, the display is smaller and situated alternatively at the top and bottom of the camera array.

Besides telling the time, we’re not sure what purpose the screens would serve. It’s possible a display of this type could also show notifications, weather info, or other basic information that might show up on an always-on display.

And as with most design patents, keep in mind there’s a good chance the pictured devices will never be anything more than an idea.

We’ve seen Chinese phone companies experiment with secondary displays in the past. In 2016, Meizu’s Pro 7 Plus featured a back display, much like the one we see in Huawei’s design patent. More recently, Nubia released the Z20, which took the concept to its logical extreme with a 5.1-inch rear-facing screen. Dual-screen phones haven’t exactly set the smartphone world on fire. Besides reducing front screen display bezel, they aren’t the most practical component phone manufacturers can add to their devices. What’s more, they end up making the resulting phone more fragile, which is something no one wants.

With the ongoing US trade sanctions cutting the company from chip suppliers like TSMC, Huawei is a bad spot. A dual-screen is probably not what gets the company over its current difficulties.

Related: Can Huawei survive without its custom Kirin chips?