Oppo has revealed its latest Under Screen Camera (USC), which it hopes will eventually replace the notch or hole-punch cutout on a smartphone, and hide the selfie camera beneath the screen instead. The company claims its USC has the “perfect balance between screen and camera quality,” and has released two selfies taken with the camera for proof.
It’s not the first of its type we’ve seen. Oppo has already had a go at getting the complicated tech right and showed its first version at MWC Shanghai in 2019. It didn’t go on to debut on a smartphone, but ZTE has released not one but two devices — the Axon 20 5G and the Axon 30 5G — with Under Screen Cameras, although neither have made much of an impact internationally.
What has Oppo done differently here? It uses both hardware and software to get the performance right. The camera has a 400 pixel-per-inch density, achieved here by making the pixels smaller, along with thinner wiring made from transparent materials for a more compact module. The software links each pixel circuit to a single pixel, allowing the brightness to be better controlled and for the screen to show more colors and greater detail. A host of other tweaks help the camera and screen work better than before, including HDR, auto white balance, and diffraction reduction using artificial intelligence (A.I.).
The two selfies sent out by Oppo show good white balance, a natural tone, and plenty of detail. However, it’s also obvious the selfies were taken in good lighting conditions and outside, when even the most basic selfie camera should be able to take a decent photo. Performance in lowlight, and in more challenging lighting conditions inside, will be the real test for Oppo’s USC camera.
Wondering when Oppo will put its USC on a phone you can buy? It’s not giving any indication when this will happen, saying instead that it will continue to work on the technology, “with the end goal to bring a more immersive, full-screen USC system to users worldwide.” This suggests it doesn’t consider the tech ready for general use yet, and considering the two-year gap between its first USC and this version, we may still have some time to wait.