In-display selfie cameras really are coming, and more tech news you need to know

Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Friday, June 5. 

1. In-display selfie cameras hit mass production

Almost a year to the day, in June 2019, we talked about in-display, or in-screen selfie cameras emerging from patents and labs as real technology prototypes, set to replace notches, holes, pop-ups for capturing selfies from front-facing cameras.

  • Cameras embedded under the display deliver a full and complete screen without a chunk taken out.
  • Just as fingerprint sensors moved into the display of many new devices or were replaced with Face ID, improving the screen area size on a phone.
  • But in-display camera technology has taken time. A Samsung patent revealed the tech back in early 2018, and last year we saw a flurry of prototypes, from Oppo and Xiaomi, where you see how it all works below:

under display videos

  • But the image quality remained a problem.
  • In January this year, Xiaomi executive Lu Weibing talked about tech issues with the implementation. He noted that higher-quality screens with >400 pixels per square inch (ppi), used in most smartphones, reduce the amount of light getting to the sensor, meaning lower quality selfie camera quality.
  • Dropping the pixel density in a region just for the camera would cause other problems, like a drop in display quality just in that spot, while lower resolutions generally aren’t what consumers want.

Now a Chinese display manufacturer is producing the technology in mass production:

  • Visionox, which has its own foldable AMOLED display technology as well, has been supplying the likes of Xiaomi with displays for its prototypes including the Mi Mix Alpha, announced it is mass-producing the world’s first under-display camera solution.
  • Now, there’s no saying if this is a good solution yet, or just the first to market.
  • One report suggests some breakthroughs to get past tech hurdles, including improved transparency in the camera area of the screen, and an “industry-first drive circuit and pixel structure designâ€� (according to machine translation) to minimize interference.
  • In addition, the company is working with device manufacturers to offer pre-written imaging algorithms to reportedly minimize diffraction, glare, and reduce the “foggingâ€� effect. This algorithm is therefore designed to help produce selfie photos with expected brightness and clarity, according to ITHome.
  • Would you buy one, or not, or wait for a second-generation model to iron out the bugs?
  • Actually, there’s a poll for that! In answering this poll, 57% said yes, 38% said “Maybe, I’ll wait for second-generation phonesâ€�, and just 5% said no.
  • Based on Xiaomi’s fairly close relationship with Visionox, we might see a Xiaomi or Redmi branded phone first, but that’s a pretty big guess.
  • Final note: you may recall I lost a bet that we’d see an in-display camera in a 2019 smartphone. Looks like 2020 will be the year, if the tech really is up to scratch.

2. A leak indicates the OnePlus Z will launch in India on July 10. No clues yet if this will be launched just in India, or globally (Android Authority).

3. This is our first official look at the Xiaomi Mi Band 5. I used a Mi Band 4 for a good six months, a true cheap and cheerful device, so this will be interesting (Android Authority).

4. Staff picks: Here are 11 things Jimmy uses every day, including a useful fanny pack, his own homemade standing desk, and desk essentials including Melvin the Pug (Android Authority).

5. “Android TV brands really need to address the Netflix button� writes Hadlee Simons (Android Authority). I kinda agree and disagree here: it’s fine, but only if you have a subscription. So, ideally, buttons should be reprogrammable on all remotes?

6. OnePlus 8 international giveaway (Android Authority).

7. Apple gets a patent for taking fake group selfies, while you’re socially distant (Patently Apple).

8. How CNET got banned by Google, back in 2005 (CNET).

9. Elon Musk says Starship is SpaceX’s ‘top priority’, right now (CNBC).

10. Manned fighter jet to face autonomous drone in air combat, next year (The Drive).

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