Under-screen cameras are slowly improving

As is often the case with new technology, under-screen cameras didn’t make a good first impression. It’s a good idea in theory, of course – you don’t need a notch or hole if you can put a selfie camera under the screen – but early efforts had some problems.

Last year, ZTE’s Axon 20 was the first phone to come with one, and it was bad. The quality of the camera was incredibly poor, and the screen area looked more distracting than a notch. Samsung continued this year with the Galaxy Z Fold 3, which had similar issues.

But things are actually improving. Two newer phones on the market, Xiaomi’s Mix 4 and ZTE’s Axon 30, take a different approach to technology, and it’s an improvement over the previous generation. Instead of having a lower resolution area of ​​the screen that allows light to pass through the camera, they reduce the pixel size without reducing the number.

This means that the part of the screen that covers the camera is really hard to see in normal use. Watch how the Axon 30 compares to the Axon 20 on a white background, which was the most difficult situation for the old phone to hide the camera. It’s also much harder to tell apart than the camera on Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3:

ZTE’s Axon 20 on the left and the newer Axon 30 on the right. The area of ​​the screen that covers the selfie camera is much less visible on the Axon 30.

The image quality of the camera is also improved. Check out these selfies:

A selfie of the ZTE Axon 20 on the left and the Axon 30 on the right.

Now the camera is clearly still compromised compared to a camera that doesn’t have to pick up the light behind a screen. ZTE and Xiaomi rely heavily on post-processing algorithms – you can tell because the preview of the live image is much worse than the final image. The results still seem overprocessed and unnatural, even though they are more usable than their predecessors. Video quality is also bad, as it’s probably too much to ask these phones to do realtime processing.

Still, the images you get are definitely usable most of the time. If you’re not a big selfie lover, or don’t use your phone for Zoom calls, I think you might get away with this. If these use cases are important to you, you should probably stick with a hole punch or notch. Especially if you don’t care about punctures or notches, as I think most people do.

However, the idea is not limited to reducing the size of your phone’s bezels. We spoke to Steven Bathiche of Microsoft’s Applied Sciences group about how the company works on under-screen cameras for an entirely different reason – so you can maintain eye contact while looking at your screen during video calls. .

For that conversation, as well as to learn more about the practical operation of ZTE and Xiaomi phones, watch the video at the top.

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About Kelly Choos

Kelly Choos

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