OnePlus has recently filed a new patent that will help the camera phone manufacturer take another step towards creating a perfectly seamless edge-to-edge display. This new patent is for a tiny selfie camera that is capable of being housed in the bezel – the black border that sits around the front display.
Over the past few years, many camera phone manufacturers have been trying to reduce the size of the bezel in order to maximize the size of the display. This new patent could potentially mean a OnePlus phone could have a low profile bezel while still being able to accommodate a selfie camera.
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One of the traditional ways to create a large display without having to sacrifice the front-facing camera is to house it in a punch hole, or a drop-down notch. However, this still blights the display.
Another method that has been explored by several manufacturers (notably by Xiaomi) is housing the selfie camera underneath the display itself. There have been several patents filed for this concept, but few camera phones have actually come to market. The ZTE Axon A20 5G is the first camera with an under display selfie camera, but there have been question marks over the image quality of these under display cameras.
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However, OnePlus seems to be exploring other options with its new patent that places the front-facing camera element inside a razor thin bezel. The patent details that OnePlus has used a significantly smaller camera sensor to do this, which could potentially affect image quality. However, with AI and hardware improvements, this may not be an issue.
Interestingly, the patent seems to show that the selfie camera is compatible with curved and flat displays. As a result, OnePlus could produce camera phones with barely visible bezels without removing the selfie camera.
Either way, the patent for this kind of selfie camera was only granted on 04 February 2021, which means that it's unlikely for it to make an appearance in any upcoming flagship devices.