The Samsung Galaxy A8S. Samsung China

Samsung may be planning on adding a second smartphone display to upcoming phones, as indicated by a recently published patent (via LetsGoDigital). The patent, filed March 2017 and published last week, shows how the secondary smartphone screen could be used in conjunction with the punch hole camera for additional effects.

According to information on the World Intellectual Property Organization, the transparent screen could be animated while covering the punch hole camera lens and other sensors. For example, a red ring could appear around the camera when it’s inoperable (in the time when launching the camera app, perhaps) while a green ring would be displayed when it is ready to go. An animated camera shutter icon could also open or close to show when the camera is in use.

Meanwhile, the patent suggests the punch hole camera area could display a heart symbol, which may be used when a biometric sensor is in use.

Samsung punch hole camera drawings from a patent filing. WIPO

Samsung already has a phone with a front-facing camera on the market, the Galaxy A8s (pictured at the top of the page), but more are expected to be on the way. Currently, the area designed for in-display cameras like this can’t be manipulated.

What’s the big idea?

Were it to come to fruition, this secondary display would likely only represent a minor improvement to current smartphones in terms of usability; I doubt anybody would rush to buy a smartphone just to see a heart icon in its front camera housing. The use cases discussed here represent only a few of the possibilities though. Samsung may have developed other concepts since March 2017 when it filed the patent, and it appears committed to optimizing the display area in new and unique ways, which is positive news.

A concent render showing how the punch hole camera could include animated images on a smartphone. LetsGoDigital

What’s more, manufacturers are still finding solutions to the problem of where to put the front-facing camera. At least through this method, the front camera would feel a bit more purposeful — it wouldn’t be there for the lack of another place to put it, but to fulfill this secondary display wizardry.

Editor's Pick

There’s no guarantee we’ll see this idea hit the market, but if we were going to, I’d expect it to be soon. Samsung has been sitting on the idea for two years and fullscreen phones now feel like only a whisker away.

What do you think of the possibilities? Let me know in the comments.