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Oppo unveils next-generation under-screen camera, promises no compromises

We’ve seen under-display cameras before. About a year ago, Xiaomi introduced its third-generation under-display camera technology. Its first two generations were never mass-produced, but the Chinese company continues to push the tech forward and hopes it will be a critical part of its smartphone lineup soon. In December 2019, another Chinese smartphone maker, Oppo, announced a prototype device with an under-display front camera.

Oppo is back with its next-generation under-display camera, and it looks highly promising. While its 2019 effort was also impressive, Oppo has come a long way in the last year and a half.

‘Innovative pixel geometry of OPPO’s next-generation under-screen camera.’ Credit: Oppo

Oppo claims that its next-generation under-screen camera technology ‘delivers the perfect balance between screen and camera quality.’ To achieve the promised results, Oppo has blended proprietary AI algorithms with a new under-screen camera. Unlike its 2019 effort, when the camera could be seen at certain angles, Oppo writes that the new camera cannot be seen during use or when the device is in standby.

The new under-display camera ‘solves many technical and manufacturing-related challenges that have plagued under-screen camera technology since the beginning of its development.’ This includes solving issues like inconsistent display quality, poor image quality caused by the screen obstructing the camera, and issues with product reliability.

Prototype smartphone featuring Oppo’s next-generation under-screen camera. Credit: Oppo

The next-gen camera design incorporates numerous design and AI improvements. The new tech uses smaller individual pixels without decreasing the overall number of pixels. The display has a 400ppi resolution. Oppo has replaced traditional screen wiring with a new transparent wiring material. Plus, the wire is 50% narrower.

There’s also improved screen accuracy, color and brightness. Oppo writes, ‘In contrast to the current industry standard of using 1 pixel circuit to drive 2 pixels (“1-to-2”) in the screen area above the camera, OPPO has introduced a new solution using proprietary screen technology, with each pixel circuit driving only 1 pixel (“1-to-1”). When combined with OPPO’s precise algorithmic compensation technology, this allows the chromaticity and brightness of the entire screen to be precisely controlled with a deviation of about 2%. For uses such as reading e-books, browsing the news, or navigating with maps, OPPO’s next-generation under-screen camera technology allows for the accurate display of smaller fonts and better preservation and representation of textural details and colors, resulting in a more consistent and immersive experience.’

Selfie taken with Oppo’s next-generation under-screen camera. Credit: Oppo

Thanks to the new pixel circuit arrangement, reliability is improved by ‘up to 50%.’ This is also due in part to an optimization algorithm. Speaking of algorithms, AI algorithms developed by Oppo’s U.S. Research Institutes work to reduce diffraction and employ HDR and auto white balance to ‘reduce some of the negative side effects typically found in under-screen cameras,’ including blurry images and photos with glare.

Many smartphone users want a larger display and don’t want to deal with a punch-hole camera or a notch. The only way to avoid these designs is to utilize an under-screen camera. Prior attempts at a high-quality under-screen camera have been a mixed bag, and none so far have adequately solved the issues mentioned above. Hopefully, Oppo’s new technology can live up to its hype and deliver a no-compromise under-display camera experience.

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