Samsung is planning to revolutionise the smartphone industry - and notched displays could be first on the chopping block. The company recently unveiled a cavalcade of new technologies in development, including "under-screen" sensors and cameras. Yes, cameras. This changes everything.
It's fair to say that the smartphone industry has become somewhat stagnant of late. Each new flagship model looks much like its predecessor and phone sales have flatlined accordingly. In short, something fresh is needed to reinvigorate the buying public - and Samsung is looking to deliver just that.
During the 2018 Samsung OLED Forum in China yesterday, the company revealed some of the technology that will drive its next generation of smartphones. The chief details have since been shared on Twitter by the serial Samsung sleuths at Ice Universe:
1.FoD, that is, the fingerprint technology under the screen.
2. UPS, under-screen sensor (including camera) technology.
3.HoD, the touch-sensitive touch-sensitive technology.
4.SoD, screen sound technology.
— Ice universe (@UniverseIce) October 19, 2018
There's a lot to unpack in this slide, which mentions an onscreen fingerprint reader, a speaker built into the display, improved haptic feedback for gaming and new Face ID tech. But by far the most intriguing revelation is something called UPS or 'Under Panel Sensor'.
According to Ice Universe, UPS functionality will extend to the camera and iris scanner, which means the front-facing camera will be hidden underneath the display.
Presumably, the sensors will 'float' beneath the glass with a semi-opaque design that won't obstruct viewability, like the render above. Or maybe the display pixels will peel back to reveal the lens underneath, like magic. At this point, all we have to go on is the tantalising presentation slide above.
However the effect is achieved, it will make true edge-to-edge phone screens possible for the first time, with no bezels, pop-up cameras or notches to spoil the illusion. The image below, which was also leaked by Ice Universe, could be a working prototype.
This may be a design beyond. pic.twitter.com/lViQUsW1Jv
— Ice universe (@UniverseIce) June 20, 2018
For users who hate notched displays, this is a big deal. Lest we forget, the notch has appeared on almost every flagship smartphone released in 2018. (In the past month alone, it has popped up on the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, Nokia 7.1, Google Pixel 3 XL, Huawei Mate20 Pro and the iPhone XR in various shapes and sizes.)
If Samsung's UPS technology works, it will doubtlessly be adopted by the rest of the industry which would effectively end the notch design's monopoly on flagship smartphones. For many smartphone users, that in itself will be cause for celebration.
Unfortunately, Samsung did not share any dates for when these new technologies will be rolling out. According to Samsung Mobile News, UPS is currently limited to a handful of prototypes and may not feature in retail phones until 2020.
In the meantime, people hungry for something new will have to make do with Samsung's folding smartphone which will reportedly be hitting store shelves in the next few months.
Fresh details have emerged about Samsung's foldable smartphone concept - a product tentatively dubbed the Samsung Galaxy X. According to Samsung's DJ Koh, the X won't fold into a smaller form factor to enhance portability. Instead, it will go in the opposite direction, unfurling from a large phone into a full-fledged tablet. Here are the details.