January 25, 2021

Samsung could use two screens for its under-display camera phones

This would explain why Samsung's holding off on sinking selfie cameras beneath phone displays.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Hole punch selfie macro 1

Credit: David Imel / Android Authority

  • Samsung has developed a unique solution to the issues faced by under-display cameras.
  • A patent filing suggests the company could use a sliding sub-display beneath a phone’s larger screen.
  • There’s no indication this tech will make its debut on a consumer device any time soon.

Under-display cameras haven’t taken off at the rate many had expected. While they give smartphones an all-screen aesthetic that’s desirable to consumers, the technology still has practical limitations for photography. Now, it seems that Samsung has developed a novel way of addressing both concerns while also adding functionality.

In a patent spotted by LetsGoDigital and filed to WIPO in June, Samsung envisions an under-display camera phone with a sliding “sub-display.� As the name suggests, the phone features a large primary screen as you’d expect, but lurking beneath it is a much smaller display. This display covers up the under-display camera when it’s not in use. When users want to unlock their device or shoot a selfie, the screen slides out of the way exposing the camera.

samsung under display selfie sub display

There’s another party trick, too. Users can activate this system by tapping or swiping on a sensor above the sub-display. This sub-display may also be used as notification pop-up shortcuts to apps, or display other status info.

More intriguing is the possibility of this system’s integration with Samsung’s S Pen. Per the filing, the stylus could also be used to activate the camera and sub-display.

Samsung’s sub-display selfie camera: Brilliant or weird?

Samsung’s solution seems an intricate solution to a punch-hole camera or ZTE’s current under-display camera system, but it should mitigate some of the problems faced by the latter. For starters, the selfie camera would be unobstructed by the phone’s main display which should improve the amount of light available and as a result image quality. When the camera isn’t in use, the phone would also appear to have a screen devoid of any punch holes or notches. It’s the best of both worlds.

There are potential issues, too. Depending on how expensive the design is to implement, the benefits may not outweigh the steeper price of the phone. Additionally, introducing moving parts in a smartphone always has its risks. Dropping a device with this moving sub-display design could damage the selfie camera system.

It’s not clear if or when Samsung could implement this technology on a consumer device, but we have our doubts that it would arrive any time soon. The suggestions of support for the S Pen does point to the sub-display’s debut with a Note, possible future Fold or S series phone.

Next: Everything we know about the Galaxy S21 series