Samsung might be working on a smartphone with surround display and sliding rear camera
LetsGoDigital reports that Sasmung filed back in July this year a 70-page patent document describing what looks to be a smartphone with surround displays and sliding rear camera setup. The patent was approved, published and immediately included in the WIPO database on October 29 2020. Apparently, this is not just one of many patents that may or may not see the light of day, as the Dutch publication suggests that Samsung is already working to release a commercial version at some point in order to provide competition to Xiaomi’s commercial versions of the Mi Mix Alpha prototype.
The patent documentation details that the phone uses displays on all of its sides, including the edges. A curved display is added to the front, while the lateral edges include smaller flexible screens, and the back features a regular flat screen. All these separate screens work together to form a large wrap-around display that can allow for new functionalities. It also makes it easier to dynamically adjust the resolution, which, in turn, could help reduce power consumption.
One interesting aspect that the wrap-around display implies is the use of a transparent case and the absence of any physical buttons. The patent specifies that the case could be made of acrylic or transparent polymer materials. Instead of an on/off button, the screen integrates a piezoelectric sensor, which generates an electric pulse that turns on the screen whenever users apply enough pressure to the screen. Charging the phone would be done in a wireless fashion and the phone is supposed to come with a built-in electronic SIM. The front screen would also include an in-display selfie cam and fingerprint reader.
As far as the main camera setup is concerned, Samsung plans to include a sliding mechanism. This would imply that the smartphone itself integrates two separate “slices”. The main camera setup would be placed on the back of the front slice, and it can be activated by sliding the back slice downwards. Thanks to the back display, users can take selfies with the main setup, as well. Additionally, the in-display selfie cam on the front screen can be used to determine which display is utilized by the user. This system turns off the display that is not in use in order to conserve energy.
Some of the new UI features brought by the addition of the wrap-around display include:
- A new way to interact with thumbnails and icons that can be moved around on the edges and expanded on either of the front or back screens
- Chameleon function that allows the phone screens to emulate the environment using information captured by the cameras and mic
- Movies can be watched by more people facing both screens now
- Advanced AI functions that can learn the owner’s app use patterns and perform certain tasks at specific times
Now, LetsGoDigital believes that the smartphone market is not exactly prepared for such a device, mostly because of the production prices. The Xiaomi Mi Mix Alpha was supposed to cost more than 2,500 Euro and has not yet been properly launched as a commercial product due to these high prices. We might need to wait for a few more years to see this type of device available at reasonable prices and in decent quantities.