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New patent hints at a phone with under-display rear (?) cameras

You've heard of under-display selfie cameras, but what about under-display rear shooters?
By
June 20, 2023
Xiaomi mi mix alpha renders 2
Xiaomi
TL;DR
  • Xiaomi has been granted a patent for a rather bizarre smartphone design.
  • The design sees under-display cameras being placed on both the front and back of the phone.
  • We’re guessing this design won’t see a commercial release.

Xiaomi unveiled the ill-fated Mi Mix Alpha in 2019, showing a smartphone with a screen that wrapped around the back of the device (seen above). That phone may have ultimately been canceled, but a newly granted patent has shown that Xiaomi is thinking about a more ambitious design.

ITHome reports that Xiaomi has been granted a patent by China’s national intellectual property body for a smartphone with under-display cameras on both the front and back.

Images posted by the outlet (seen above and below) indeed show a phone that looks very similar to the Mix Alpha, featuring a screen that wraps around the back. There’s a vertical strip running down the center of the rear cover, preventing this from being a full 360-degree wraparound screen. We can also see the locations of the under-screen cameras, featuring one on the front and three on the back of the phone.

This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen a Xiaomi phone with an under-display camera, as 2021’s Mix Mix 4 packed this feature. However, this would be the first time we see rear cameras getting the under-display treatment too.

Under-display selfie cameras still lag behind even budget smartphones, as selfies taken with these cameras show haziness, poor low-light performance, and strange artifacts. So we’d expect any commercial phone with under-display rear cameras to offer similarly poor image quality.

Have you tried any phones with an under-display selfie camera?

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We also wonder why Xiaomi thought about this approach when the design in the patent has a giant rear strip running down the back. Surely the company could place rear cameras here instead? Even punch-hole cutouts for all cameras would deliver better image quality. Then again, this is just a patent anyway, so the overall design here might not be representative of a final product.

In fact, it’s worth noting that companies file patents for all sorts of zany stuff. So there’s no guarantee we’ll even see a Xiaomi phone with under-display rear cameras in the future.