Samsung has managed to check off a few items on its to-do list, from under-display fingerprint scanners to foldable displays. There is still one item, however, that remains elusive and might not yet see the light of day anytime soon. The Galaxy S21 was initially expected to bear the company’s first UDC or under-display camera but that prestige might belong to the Galaxy Z Fold 3 later in 2021 instead because of problems with the component’s production.
Hiding everything including the camera underneath the screen has been the holy grail of smartphone design and engineering ever since it became trendy to push bezels out. It was easier said than done, though, and manufacturers had to contend with workarounds like popup cameras and punch-hole cutouts while they figure out how to pull it off. It seemed that Samsung was close to hitting that milestone only to now delay its plans because of yield issues.
Samsung was reportedly looking into two ways to produce an under-display camera. Its current Hole in Active Display 2 or HiAA 2 equipment that it got last year was meant to punch micro holes in the area where the camera would lie under. That said, Samsung would prefer not to punch any holes at all and simply make the area of the screen above the camera transparent.
Unfortunately, neither method is yielding the volumes that Samsung requires to put the display into production. According to sources, that has forced Samsung to delay its UDC plans for the Galaxy S21 and push the feature back to the Galaxy Z Fold 3 which adds another complication. Samsung’s flexible OLED panels employ a yellow-ish Polyimide (PI) substrate which would tint the light that passes through the screen. In other words, such flexible screens with UDC will require a custom camera sensor that has the software and hardware to restore the true colors of an image.
That will, in turn, undoubtedly make the Galaxy Z Fold 3 even more expensive than its predecessor. And while Samsung waits, ZTE’s Axon 20 5G is already flaunting its own under-screen camera, though its real-world performance has yet to be measured.