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Xiaomi imagines an under-display camera that doubles as a rear shooter

The camera adds to the triple camera array when not pointing through the display.

Published onMay 10, 2021

Xiaomi Mi Note 10 cameras hero shot 1
  • A new Xiaomi design patent details a unique dual-purpose under-display camera design.
  • The normally rear camera would rotate to point towards the display when required.
  • The camera can then act as an under-display camera, shooting images through the display.

We’ve seen some pretty crazy Xiaomi concepts and patents in the past, but this design may take the cake. According to a patent filed in 2020 but recently granted by WIPO (via LetsGoDigital), Xiaomi is developing a new design for a rotating under-display camera phone.

The design details a triple camera array at the rear — similar to the iPhone 12‘s layout — placed in the phone corner. One of these rearward-facing cameras can “rotate” using a motor or magnets to point towards the display. In this configuration, the camera would essentially act as a front-facing under-display selfie camera.

Patent documents suggest that a portion of the display would allow light to pass through it for the camera. It’s unclear how large this section of the screen would be, but ZTE demonstrated on the Axon 20 that it could be tough to notice if done well. Regardless, the design would allow Xiaomi to offer a smartphone with an all-screen phone without the need for a dedicated under-display camera. It may also enable the Chinese manufacturer to use beefier camera hardware too.

There’s no indication if this camera would be the primary rear camera or an ultra-wide snapper. Either way, the camera would have to be useful as a rear-facing shooter and a selfie camera, too.

Xiaomi’s under-display camera phones are coming

This isn’t Xiaomi’s only under-display phone vision, though. A design uncovered a year ago details a similar solution to the ZTE Axon 20. The company also confirmed last year that it plans to release its first under-display camera phones in 2021.

Notably, Xiaomi’s rotating under-display camera patent was filed in 2020 but only recently came to light in April. It’s unclear if Xiaomi’s plans to bring this design to market, or if it’ll settle for a simpler implementation first.

What do you think of Xiaomi’s rotating under-display camera design? Is it too elaborate or pretty ingenious? Let us know in the comments below.

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