ZTE launches first 5G smartphone with under camera display next month

World’s first smartphone with both 5G and an under-display camera the ZTE Axon 20 will launch on September 1

  • Chinese company ZTE will launch the ZTE Axon 20 5G device on September 1
  • Shenzhen-based firm will also hold a launch event for the device the same day
  • Xiaomi and Oppo have already been teasing their own under-display cameras

Chinese smartphone maker ZTE will launch the world’s first mass-produced 5G smartphone with an under-display camera next month.

The ZTE Axon 20 5G, which is launching in China on September 1, will be the first under-display camera smartphone to be released to the market.

The so-called ‘under-display’ camera is concealed entirely behind the phone’s screen, with no need for any notches or small round ‘hole-punches’.  

The design increases the amount of space on the smartphone display, which is usually taken up by the black spot at the top that houses the camera. 

Although the phone’s release date in the UK is yet to be announced, more details, including pricing will be available at the September 1 launch event. 

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Leaked image of the ZTE Axon 20 Pro 5G, according to Specs Tech. The device will be the world’s first mass-produced 5G smartphone featuring under-display camera

WHAT IS AN UNDER-SCREEN CAMERA? 

The design is intended to save space on the screen.

Current phones rely on notches or hole-punches, seen in Samsung and Honor devices, to house selfie cameras. 

Oppo’s tech uses an enhanced translucent panel combined with processing algorithms to take photos.

Chinese handset makers Oppo and Xiaomi have launched into an early battle over the technology, tweeting videos of prototypes. 

The new ZTE Axon 20 5G is rumoured to run Android 10 and come with a 6.92-inch (1,080×2,460 pixels) OLED display, according to a leak on Chinese regulatory body TENAA and detailed by Gadgets360. 

However, the exact configurations are currently unconfirmed and more details will be unveiled next month.  

‘Aiming to continuously provide consumers with unprecedented user experiences, ZTE is committed to accelerating the development of innovative technologies,’ the company said in a blog post.

‘By launching the world’s first 5G smartphone with under-display camera, ZTE will further promote the development of display technologies in the smartphone industry, thereby bringing a revolutionised experience to all consumers.’

The company calls the new device a ‘milestone’ in its ambition to sell a ‘true full display smartphone’.  

All the major industry players have been working on the under-display camera smartphone, ZTE said.

To accommodate the front-facing camera, smartphone designs have previously used the popular notch display – a cut-out of the device’s display, usually at the top.

Other designs include the pop-up selfie camera smartphone, featured on the Samsung Galaxy A80, which slides up to reveal the selfie camera. 

The hole punch display features a small, round black hole, while the water-drop notch display, as on the OnePlus 6T and some Xiamoi models, is shaped like a drop of water falling from a window pane at the top. 

However, as consumers spend more time enjoying video content, smartphone makers are being driven to keep the entire screen free from any imperfections and deliver a complete full screen display.

The under-display technology offers a way of doing this without dispensing of the front camera. 

Other Chinese companies including Oppo and Xiaomi have been working on their own under-display camera technology. 

In June last year, both companies teased their versions of the technology on social media, although neither have gone on to release an under-screen camera product yet.   

‘For those seeking the perfect, notchless smartphone screen experience – prepare to be amazed,’ Oppo posted on Twitter at the time, accompanied with a short clip of an ‘invisible’ camera.

Chinese smartphone maker Oppo revealed a glimpse of its hidden selfie camera technology which resides underneath the screen (pictured)

Oppo vice president Brian Shen wrote on Chinese social media site Weibo that there would be some loss of optical quality compared with normal cameras at this early stage

Oppo vice president Brian Shen wrote on Chinese social media site Weibo that there would be some loss of optical quality compared with normal cameras at this early stage. 

Chinese firm Xiaomi then tweeted a video showcasing their device, writing: ‘Do you want a sneak peek at the future? Here you go…’. 

Xiaomi president Lin Bin posted a Twitter video of the Xiaomi Mi 9 with a front facing camera, which is concealed entirely behind the phone’s screen. 

There was no indication when these two companies intend to make their under-display technology available to the public.    

In 2019, ZTE launched the ZTE Axon 10 Pro 5G, one of the first 5G phones available in China, featuring a compact, uniquely curved display.    

ZTE claims that it’s achieved numerous breakthroughs in the field of smartphone displays, including the Axon 7 smartphone’s pressure-sensitive display and its foldable dual-screen smartphone, the ZTE Axon M Z999.     

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