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Next-gen Pixel smartphones may have under-display cameras thanks to a new Google patent

Is this the future of Pixel design? (Source: LetsGoDigital)
Is this the future of Pixel design? (Source: LetsGoDigital)
Under-display camera technology is currently emerging as a replacement for punch-holes in smartphone displays. A blog has discovered a new Google patent for its take on this new kind of selfie camera, thereby strongly hinting that this potential upgrade is destined for the Pixel 7 or later.

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The smartphone selfie camera is showing increasingly convincing signs of evolving from the ever-present punch-hole into an under-display (or UDC) form instead. In this form, the lens is still lodged within a mobile device's screen panel, but is located under a specialized square of this material that can become clear at need in order to deploy the front-facing sensor.

UDCs are currently projected to become more popular and prevalent over the next few years, possibly starting with their adoption in the upcoming premium Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 phablet. Furthermore, it now looks like Google has its own version in the works, according to a new patent recently submitted to the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO).

It depicts a form of mobile camera clearly intended to hide beneath a display when not in use. It indicates that Google has developed an interesting mechanism in order to bring this about: apparently, the "active" UDC part of the display overlays a prism that can rotate to face a lens and sensor at need, or an "auxiliary display" so as to complete the screen's edge-to-edge look when not in use.

Then again, given the date of its acceptance to the WIPO database (September 15, 2020, having originally been filed in 2019), the new IP is unlikely to be realized in the upcoming Pixel 6 series.

This rumored successor's (or successors', maybe) to the 5 leaks contain renders showing a central punch-hole thus far in any case. Therefore, this new 'Google UDC' might be ready for the OEM's 2022 phones at the earliest.

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Some explanatory schematics based on the Google patent. (Source: WIPO via LetsGoDigital)
Some explanatory schematics based on the Google patent. (Source: WIPO via LetsGoDigital)

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Deirdre O'Donnell
Deirdre O'Donnell - Senior Tech Writer - 4198 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2018
I became a professional writer and editor shortly after graduation. My degrees are in biomedical sciences; however, they led to some experience in the biotech area, which convinced me of its potential to revolutionize our health, environment and lives in general. This developed into an all-consuming interest in more aspects of tech over time: I can never write enough on the latest electronics, gadgets and innovations. My other interests include imaging, astronomy, and streaming all the things. Oh, and coffee.
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 05 > Next-gen Pixel smartphones may have under-display cameras thanks to a new Google patent
Deirdre O'Donnell, 2021-05-18 (Update: 2021-05-18)