Apple is working on equipping its iPhone models with an under display camera (UDC) that could debut on an upcoming model in the next couple of years, according to a report. South Korean tech conglomerate LG is reportedly working on an under panel camera (UPC) that hides the cutout for the component on a smartphone’s display, allowing for an uninterrupted viewing experience when playing games or watching videos. Apple is expected to replace the Dynamic Island display cutout with sensors located under the display for camera and Face ID in the future.
The Elec reports (in Korean) that LG Group’s electronic component manufacturing firm LG Innotek is in “advanced development” of a UDC system that is expected to solve one of the biggest challenges that posed the technology — insufficient light transmission. Unlike existing selfie cameras, under display cameras allow less light to pass through the display area, which means that the camera lens and the sensor receive less information, resulting in low-quality images.
LG Innotek’s ‘freeform optic” lens technology is expected to overcome the challenges posed by under display cameras, according to the report. The company has applied for patents that reference this freeform optic technology since 2021, and deal with (translated from Korean) “optical system, camera module, and mobile terminal”.
By utilising a freeform lens, the company’s patent states that it can reduce the distortions such as lower quality in the peripheral areas or image blurring by adjusting the thickness of the surrounding lens, according to the report.
The Elec reports that Apple isn’t expected to equip its smartphones with a UDC module until 2026. Before equipping the iPhone with a camera located under the screen, Apple is reportedly looking to add an under display sensor for Face ID authentication.
While the inclusion of these sensors under the screen hints at the arrival of a future iPhone model with an “all screen” display, it is worth noting that Apple will not be the first company to equip its phones with an under-display camera. Chinese smartphones like the ZTE Axon 30 5G and the Xiaomi Mi Mix 4 — both released in 2021 — as well as Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Fold 5 are also equipped with low-resolution selfie cameras located under the display.