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The notch on handheld devices has been the pain in the neck of designers since they began chasing the holy grail of an edge-to-edge screen. In case you haven’t noticed, the widely hated feature is the little dip in the top of your phone screen, which houses the camera lens. It has cut into the display space of most smartphone designs ever since Apple decided to add it to the iPhone X (its first mainstream application), and solutions have been thin on the ground.
But notch-haters can breathe a sigh of relief as Xiaomi (a Chinese tech company which controls about 10 per cent of the smartphone market), has finally perfected an innovative tech concept, set to change everything due to its under-display camera lens. We wonder if it will make the tech will make it into any of the best camera phones.
To avoid dealing with any lens at all, the camera photographs through the gaps in the screen’s pixels. The illustration above shows how Xiaomi has managed to keep the lens area fully pixelated, whereas other attempts have made the pixels too sparse – resulting in a dimmer screen. Other companies have experimented with this technology, but Xiaomi is the first to deem it market-ready.
The promotional video (below) sets two phones side-by-side. One with a tiny camera lens in the upper-left hand side of the screen, and the other lens-less. We have to say, seeing the two next to each other does make us hyper-aware of the spot on the screen, and the unblemished display of the new model feels as limitless as an infinity pool.
Looking closely though, it is possible to see a blemish around the camera area, as shown from the tweet shared below (and it’s visible if you look closely at the promo video, too). There is a patch that’s dimmer than the rest of the screen, but marginally so. Still, it’s way less annoying than a notch or a camera lens, and a great step forward.
Xiaomi’s third-generation under-screen camera technology, you can hardly see the traces of the camera unless you look carefully. pic.twitter.com/g9iYa1cllAAugust 28, 2020
So, it’s a big tick from a design perspective, but is the camera any good? Xiaomi says it delivers the same quality as other smartphone cameras on the market, using similar techniques to Google and Apple to enhance photos taken with its phones.
Xiaomi may be the trailblazer for the next wave of smartphone design so if the notch is something that really bothers you, you may want to take the leap when the technology is mass produced in Xiaomi’s 2021 smartphones. But, those in the know have had their eyes on this tech for a while now (check out its use on a stunning concept iPhone design), so we’re sure it can’t be long until other big players, like Apple, begin to go notchless.