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Note 10 put to shame by Oppo’s new under-screen selfie camera

During the MWC Shanghai trade show in China, phone maker Oppo showcased its long-teased under-screen camera (USC) to the world.

Proclaimed as a ‘world first’, Oppo’s new camera solution manages to conceal your phone’s front-facing camera beneath a layer of pixels, without significantly impacting on image quality (of both screen and camera alike), at least, based on the company’s claims.

Oppo does concede that this arrangement has the potential to reduce image fidelity, however, using algorithms, images are treated to combat haze, glare, and address colour accuracy concerns that crop up when using this technology to the point where the company says results are “on par with mainstream devices.” The hardware also makes use of larger pixels to allow more light to the sensor.

Based on footage from attendees at MWC Shanghai 2019 such as YouTube user ‘Fan OPPO’, the camera does indeed appear to function as promised, with no notable impairment in quality, however, it’s tricky to tell without being able to compare side-by-side samples. What’s more, this footage does show that the area used to conceal the camera can be seen at certain angles.

Oppo describes this as an “enhanced translucent panel” which seems to sport pixels interspersed with minute holes, forming a mesh for the camera to ‘see’ through. When displaying content on the display, there doesn’t appear to be a drop in brightness or weaker contrast across the area, which is reassuring.

In the battle of the bezels, it’s safe to say that Oppo has been a key proponent of the scene, constantly finding more creative ways of concealing their phones’ front cameras. While the Oppo R15 was the first of the company’s devices to adopt a notch, which also happened to be notably smaller than the iPhone X’s, it wasn’t long after that it debuted its Find X flagship, which sported a then-unprecedented 93.8 percent screen-to-body-ratio.

Related: Best camera phone

The trade-off was a motorised camera system that popped up along the top edge of the device. The same methodology has been applied to the company’s 2019 premium devices, the Oppo Reno series, with an eye-catching shark fin-shaped ‘pivot-rising camera’, however, this new technology would eliminate concerns around moving parts altogether; a common point of failure on any smartphone.

The next best thing right now is the in-screen camera, as seen on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S10 family and slated to feature on the forthcoming Galaxy Note 10 phablet, however, Oppo’s solution is undoubtedly easier on the eye.

As for when we might see this technology within a phone that consumers can actually buy, Oppo’s official line is “in the near future.” Despite this ambiguity, the Reno 10x Zoom, with its impressive triple camera array, might give some indication; with its launch heralded by Oppo’s ‘Get Closer’ event at MWC in Barcelona back in February, just two months prior.

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