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Oppo announces the ultimate notch killer: an under-screen selfie cam

Smartphones are on a mad dash to eradicate bezels and notches, and already this year we’ve seen pop-up selfies, and flipping rear cams, and hole-punch displays. But now Oppo is showing off what could be the holy grail of notch killers: an under-screen camera.

The China-based smartphone maker unveiled the tech at MWC Shanghai, but it comes with some serious caveats. For one, it’s basically a proof-of-concept, so it isn’t available in a phone just yet and Oppo hasn’t given a time frame for when it will be. For another, it requires heavy lifting behind-the-scenes.

Due to the inherent quality hit with a camera that’s placed under a screen, Oppo says it’s developed algorithms for haze removal, HDR, and white balance to create a selfie cam “that rivals current smartphones in the market today.” That’s not very convincing, but Oppo has lots of time to tweak and refine its computational model, since no other company has announced an in-display camera.

Oppo said the tech “utilizes a customized camera module, an enhanced translucent panel material combined with advanced processing algorithms to take vivid pictures without a notch or motorized camera.” That means Oppo can design a phone with a true edge-to-edge display, something that has thus far eluded smartphone makers.

This isn’t the first time this year Oppo has unveiled breakthrough camera tech. At MWC Barcelona in February, the company showed off a camera with 10X lossless zoom, using an 8.6mm triple-camera system that includes a 48MP main lens and an 120-degree ultra-wide lens along with a 160mm zoom lens. That technology landed in the Oppo Reno phone that began shipping in May. 

However, while an under-screen camera solves what is arguably the biggest obstacle to removing the notch, there is still the issue of proximity and ambient light sensors, as well as facial recognition sensors for secure biometrics.

But those are all things that can be solved down the line. For now, we’re that much closer to removing the notch once and for all, and Pixel 3 XL haters everywhere can begin to rejoice.

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