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Oppo says new under-screen camera will make its way to flagship phones

No notch, no image problems?

Oppo's 2021 flagship, the Find X3 Pro, doesn't use an under-screen camera.
Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Oppo unveiled a new under-display camera tech on Thursday. The tech is set to make its way to the company's upcoming flagships, allowing them to hide selfie cameras under their display. The third-gen imaging tech, which the company claims is the "best under-screen camera solution," apparently delivers image quality that's much closer to that of a regular front-facing camera. 

Oppo attributes this improvement to better software and a better display. The company said it souped up its AI, training it with "tens of thousands of images." It also used an upgraded screen (perhaps from Samsung) that keeps the 400 pixels per inch density uniform across the entire display. Earlier iterations had a lower pixel density in the area above the camera, which created an unappealing patch above the camera, especially noticeable when reading or watching video.


Under-screen cameras are by no means a brand new addition to phones -- the feature emerged as a possible answer to the long-standing design problem created by a full-screen display and the need for a front-facing camera, which Apple tackled by adding a camera notch to the iPhone X. But installing a camera underneath a display so that it doesn't interfere with the display is challenging endeavour since the camera has to function as normal under all those pixels. 

ZTE was up for the challenge, equipping 2020's Axon 20 5G with an under-screen camera, but the device struggled to capture detail in low-light situations, often outputting blurry images as if the photograph had been taken with a shaky hand. This month, Samsung equipped its Z Fold 3 with an under-screen camera, catapulting the idea of concealing a selfie camera under the display into the mainstream. But in the real world, the tech has still got its work cut out for it. CNET's Patrick Holland, who's currently conducting an ongoing review of the device, says the Z Fold 3's under-screen camera isn't going to win any photography awards.


A prototype device featuring Oppo's next-gen under-screen-camera.

Oppo debuted its under-screen camera tech back in 2019, but it has yet to put one into an actual commercial device. Till CNET gets hands-on time with it, it's hard to say whether Oppo's iteration of the under-screen tech will improve the problems of years past.