back to article Farewell to notches and hole-punches? ZTE expected to announce mobe with under-display camera next month

Chinese smartphone maker ZTE is expected to introduce the world's first commercially available phone with an under-screen selfie camera next month. The device, dubbed the Axon 20 5G, isn't necessarily the first among demos, but it's the first that'll be sold in shops. As we saw last year, Middle Kingdom mobile giant OPPO has …

  1. tiggity Silver badge

    I would be happy with a no selfie phone

    Rear camera can be useful on occasion in those times when you don't have a camera but need to record something

    But if you're not in the selfie obsessed demographic then front camera not needed.

    Wonder if there's any stats on how many people actually make regular, widespread use of selfie cameras

    1. Diogenes

      Re: I would be happy with a no camera phone

      I was about to make the same point. Have never ever used the front camera on my phone or tablet, and rarely (ie once every 6 weeks or so) even use the rear camera and even then I have an alternative close by if needed.

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: I would be happy with a no camera phone

        Ech, I’m as keen to bust out the pitchforks and flaming torches at the mere mention of the word “selfie” as anyone, but I will admit to using my phone’s front camera for the occasional Skype call.

        1. Gene Cash Silver badge

          Re: I would be happy with a no camera phone

          So you're using your phone to make a call that doesn't use the phone as a phone...

          (sorry, had to bring up the momentary dissonance I get when I do that)

        2. Zarno Bronze badge

          Re: I would be happy with a no camera phone

          Obligatory comic: http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20141112

          I use the front camera like that, as a mirror mostly, and the occasional (every few months?) video chat with someone.

          What would be nice is a return to the two-screen phone idea (RAZR V3 and V9, Samsung Upstage come to mind), with a smaller display on the back so you can put a blast shutter/flip cover over the main display and still see a reminder/check time.

          It looks like Motorola is doing a second screen on their newest RAZR as well, but I don't trust folding displays yet. My guess, is besides the nod to the olde designs, they kept the second screen to reduce the frequency of open/close cycles and keep the wear down.

          Motorola also has the pop-out camera thing on a few of their newer mobes, but I can see that getting broken or gummed up rather easily.

          1. Soruk

            Re: I would be happy with a no camera phone

            My Motorola One Hyper has one of these pop-out selfie-cams, and so far it works well.

            Last phone I saw without a selfie-cam was the HTC Wildfire.

            1. Zarno Bronze badge

              Re: I would be happy with a no camera phone

              Does it get in the way of a rugged case? I was side-eying that that as less-spendy option to the Edge+ for when the inevitable happens and I need a new device.

              I'm running a first gen Z Force in an otterbox currently, with a glass protector over the plastic display, because industrial machinery has no mercy...

              1. Soruk

                Re: I would be happy with a no camera phone

                I've not tried it with a ruggedised case as I have no need for that. However, a case designed for that phone will most certainly take it into account.

                One other thing for Motorola, they provide a rubber case with their phones, and to date I haven't lost a screen yet from accidentally dropping the things.

      2. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: I would be happy with a no camera phone

        I use my phone camera an absolute fuckton for documenting things.

        For example, I used it to capture how the right switchpod of my bike looked before I disassembled it, and then various stages of that disassembly. I only needed the pictures for about 3 hours, but they were invaluable when I was putting it back together.

        Friday I took a picture of where a router was supposed to go, to demonstrate it wouldn't fit there to the boss.

        Phone cameras are worth their weight in gold.

      3. Diogenes

        Re: I would be happy with a no camera phone

        Don't understand the downvotes, I would just like the option to buy a 'proper' smartphone without any cameras. I am not suggesting that ALL phones come without any cameras as obviously our use cases are different. All I use my phone for is to make calls and text, and test apps on. The tablet is only used to consume media and test apps on.

        For skype/teams calls and recording tutorials for my students I absolutely use my laptop camera, surface go camera or webcams(for the main machine) and could not live without them, but the camera on my phone is for me a waste of time/effort/energy/money, and it annoys me no end that 99.9% of reviews for a new phone is how good/bad the expletive camera is.

    2. Dazed and Confused

      Re: I would be happy with a no selfie phone

      I occasionally find the front facing camera very useful on my phone. Not for selfies but for those situations where you need to see somewhere you can't get your eye to but you can squeeze the phone into. I use the main camera a lot more for these jobs, but sometimes you need to be able to see the screen while aiming and sometimes that requires the front facing one.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: I would be happy with a no selfie phone

        & that's why I carry a Bluetooth remote shutter in my toolbox.

        Icon - Ok where's the flipping thing got to!

    3. macjules Silver badge

      Re: I would be happy with a no selfie phone

      Yes, but you are probably not a chronically self-obsessed teenager who must always be sending selfies to various boy/girl friends at 2am. My eldest refuses to put her phone on silent (imagine that for 5 months lockdown) and we can hear every time her friends send another picture .. I often wonder if they sleep at all.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I would be happy with a no selfie phone

      I barely use it, but it is a useful thing to have for things like video chats if you ever have to.

      Although I don't need it, I would prefer a phone with one.

    5. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: I would be happy with a no selfie phone

      Since I have had a camera with a front facing phone, I have used a front facing phone, taking into account facial and iris recognition on top of regular selfies, a total of zero times. And yet I have to accept that my display has a bloody big hole in it that I can't get rid of.

      I'm sure it's of some use if you're so self obsessed that every scene you photograph simply must have your distorted face obscuring it, but for what I choose to call "normal" people, what is the point? And why is there no alternative on flagship phones?

  2. Jan 0 Silver badge

    How many users will notice?

    Most phone users have such low expectations of photographic quality that I'd guess that they'll not notice the inevitable degradation of the image. The image processing required isn't going to overwhelm the hardware.

  3. Lee D Silver badge

    Would literally pay a bit NOT to have a front-facing camera, or to just have it ABOVE the screen.

    Why do we need all this seamless junk? Give me a few mm physical bezel around the screen (less likely to crack), and then put the camera, sensors, etc. ABOVE it and a button BELOW it.

    There are literally features on modern smartphones I would pay not to have, and others I would pay to have.

    I'll pay not to have Siri / Alexa / etc.

    I'll pay not to have a stupid integrated screen but just a plain, square bit of touch-glass.

    I'll pay to have a removable battery.

    I'll pay to have protective corners and a phone that DOES NOT NEED a case to keep it safe. Seriously. It's like giving people a car and then telling them they need to put bumpers on it.

    I'll pay to have a headphone socket, even if the phone gets longer.

    I'll pay to have PLAIN, STANDARD Android with no apps.

    The market is atrocious for phones and just does not understand what I want as a consumer.

    The closest I can get is a Samsung XCover Pro. Rugged, waterproof, removable battery, dual-sim (if you buy the right one), headphone socket, etc. but it has a fingerprint reader that I don't want... a selfie camera notch I don't want, multiple cameras on the back that I don't want, and it doesn't do MHL / Dex over the USB-C port (which I would pay for). I'd literally pay to have the S4/S5 mini IR blaster put back on it too.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      "The market is atrocious for phones and just does not understand what I want as a consumer."

      That's because you aren't sufficiently numerous to be considered the consumer. Neither am I. Neither are probably most of the commenter on here.

      The consumer is the person obsessed with documenting every aspect of their life with their phone. They are the ones who use the front camera; who don't care about replacing the battery when it dies after a couple of years because they'll just get a new phone; who are driven by feature count and fashion rather than function.

      And there's billions of them out there...

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: "The market is atrocious for phones and just does not understand what I want as a consumer."

        I think it's far more like "HD/4K/3D etc.". Everyone wants it because it's there. Now that everyone has it, and either doesn't really use it or doesn't need anything more, it's started back going the other way.

        People aren't gonna buy a new mobile every year in perpetuity. They aren't getting that much faster or better each time round any more.

        Compare even an old Android with a new one, massive difference. Compare a new one with its competitors? Not much difference. Every phone has almost every option because they have to do that to compete. Nobody's going to buy a phone without GPS any more, for instance, even if they hardly ever use it.

        And if you're not needing to buy a new phone, then you want one that'll last longer. Removable batteries are coming back. You can say "ditch headphones", maybe, because USB-C still allows that functionality and Bluetooth has obsoleted it. But when it's something that another function *doesn't* provide, then it becomes far more useful

        It's not that phones won't still have 10 cameras. It's that ALL phones will have 10 cameras. So who cares about a phone with 11 cameras? And when a camera is "good enough" for selfies, then why does it need to be in the screen itself as a visible blob of obstruction?

        There's only one generation that are really doing all the selfie-stuff, and that generation are nearly growing out of it. The next generation and the generations before don't really care about it.

        We've reached saturation. The only way to distinguish is to give people things other phones don't have, or to make their phones different in some way.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: "The market is atrocious for phones and just does not understand what I want as a consumer."

          Or, in short, phones have now turned into fridges. They all do the same thing, and the only practical difference for most people is price, the label, and the number of shelves.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "The market is atrocious for phones and just does not understand what I want as a consumer."

            "Or, in short, phones have now turned into fridges. They all do the same thing,"

            And so the manufacturers add overpriced and unreliable shiny gimmicks to them to try and differentiate their product.

        2. Dazed and Confused

          Re: "The market is atrocious for phones and just does not understand what I want as a consumer."

          People aren't gonna buy a new mobile every year in perpetuity.

          Well MrsConfused used to buy handbags every year, often she'd buy several (thankfully she's cut back on that habit).

          For some, phones are fashion accessories and as long as the manufactures can persuade enough punters that they're fashion items then they'll keep selling more.

          Other people dread the idea of getting a new phone and all the hassle associated with either beating it in to working the way we want or being beaten by it into suffering the way it wants to work.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Had to scroll up to see if it I had posted this and forgot about it.

      One more downside for the Xcover Pro: it's not on AT&T's VoLTE whitelist, so (supposedly) it's going to stop working for voice calls in the US by February 2022.

      I doubt I'll be buying a new phone by then, so unless AT&T gets it together, I guess I'll switch carriers for a while.

    3. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: I'd literally pay to have the S4/S5 mini IR blaster put back on it too.

      Me too! The combination of an S5 with the IR blaster, TVBeGone for Android and a GoodGuys store full of televisions was more fun than a trouserful of ferrets.

      And the remotes were always locked up together in a box out the back, with hilarious results.

  4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Smudge proof?

    Smudging a camera is the biggest problem and it will only get worse if you cannot see where the camera is.

    Bevelless phones are more of a "because we can" feature rather than a response to market demand.

  5. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Big Brother

    So no-one's....

    Going to call out the further implications of this tech?

    Think having anything with a screen capable of having a camera hidden behind it.

    Some would make sense - camera hidden in a cash machine/ATM/hole in the wall. Bezel-less laptop screen without the F7 key popup hack for the webcam.

    To the less pleasant, things like bus stop screens, tourist information screens, ads in shopping centres. To truly unpleasant like that big widescreen TV in your hotel room.. Or the screens in toilets like in service stations.

    Me, I like knowing where the damn camera is.

    Big Brother because with this he truly could be watching you.

    1. Ian 69

      Re: So no-one's....

      Bus stop screens, tourist information screens, ads in shopping centres - why would they need to hide a camera, you're probably on CCTV anyway?

      As for blatantly illegal ones like 'that big widescreen TV in your hotel room' why would they need to hide it in the TV given the scores of minute spy cameras you can get nowadays - probably get better angles too.

      In all of your scenarios this technology offers nothing a pinhole in a dark bezel that could be anywhere nearby wouldn't already do.

      1. Christopher Rogers

        Re: So no-one's....

        It'll be under the guise of providing a personalised experience.

  6. VeganVegan
    Joke

    Does this mean that it will soon be

    buenas noches, notches?

  7. I am David Jones

    On the plus side

    I’m thinking of every computer monitor having a camera in the centre of the screen so that people can have proper eye-to-eye video chats.

    An array of cameras, with gaze detection to select which camera to use, would be even better!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    C'mon, el Reg, you missed out on a top headline: BUENOS NOTCHES.

    I'll clear my desk at home and can start on Monday.

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