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A couple of years ago, smartphones looked more technologically advanced than the new products of 2022. And all thanks to the retractable camera , which has become one of the main trends and made it possible to feel what a truly frameless screen is. Unfortunately, the popularity had since diminished, and we have to deal with notches and other annoying cutouts. Let’s discuss why smartphones with a pop-up camera are not sold in 2022 , and are there any prerequisites for their return in the future.
Retractable camera – pros and cons
The pop-up camera is one of the elements to make the phone bezel-less, which many manufacturers were striving for in the 2010s. There were a lot of experimental models like Sharp Aquos Crystal of 2014 or Xiaomi Mi MIX of 2016, where the developers made minimal bezels on the sides and top, as well as an impressive indentation at the bottom to hide the front camera. But the implementation of the iPhone X with a notch turned out to be the most popular.
At the same time, the cutout on the screen caused a lot of controversy, forcing manufacturers to look for a way to somehow hide the front camera . It was impossible to completely abandon it in the era of selfies, and in 2018 the first smartphone with a retractable camera vivo NEX appeared. The technology of the moving out unit turned out to be so simple that after a few months the market was literally filled with similar models:
- Xiaomi Mi 9T;
- OPPO Reno2;
- One Plus 7 Pro;
- Honor 9X;
- POCO F2 Pro;
- Samsung Galaxy A80 and others.
Even little-known brands like UMIDIGI appeared with a pop-up camera, and therefore nothing foreshadowed the departure of such high-tech models from the market. In 2019, a survey was conducted about which front-end implementation users like best. It turned out that 47% would prefer the outgoing block, but the majority still agreed with the less aesthetic cutout.
Audience loyalty to cutouts, as evidenced by many focus groups, forced manufacturers to abandon the pop-up camera . Despite the fact that only such an implementation could guarantee true “framelessness”, it was decided to develop screens with cutouts. And the main reason is banal – the high cost of production. Yes, the sliding block also deprives the smartphone of moisture protection. But its absence, for example, does not prevent Xiaomi from saving on IP certification.
And so we came to the conclusion that in 2022 the only way to hide the front camera was to use a cutout. Apple has been exploiting the theme with notch for five years, only slightly reducing its size, and on Android the whole palette of droplets and holes is presented. The most common is the island front camera cutout . It is literally inscribed into the screen, thanks to which the solidity of the front panel of the smartphone is preserved.
You can make such a cutout on any screen, be it IPS or AMOLED. However, to make it not too big, manufacturers are forced to install mediocre small-sized front cameras. If someone (for example, vivo) decides to put a good camera , then the cutout automatically turns from an island into an outdated drop, because otherwise there is no way to make this eye more or less aesthetic.
Under screen camera
A kind of alternative to the exit block should be a camera under the screen . Perhaps this is the only implementation of the front camera that allows you to make smartphones without a cutout. But, alas, the development, which appeared for the first time back in 2020, has even more drawbacks than other options. The first smartphone with an under-screen camera, the ZTE Axon 20 5G , proved that although the matrix is under the display, in order to capture an image, developers need to lower the display resolution at the front camera installation site. Because of this, the notch still remains noticeable, and the quality of the photo on the camera under the screen in most cases does not stand up to criticism and corresponds to 0.3-megapixel sensors that were used 10 years ago.
The only more or less adequate smartphone with a camera under the screen so far is Xiaomi MIX 4 . It uses the same resolution of the matrix across the entire display area, so that the notch really remains invisible, but the photo quality still suffers. Plus, we are only talking about premium devices, while even budget smartphones like Honor 9X had a retractable camera 3 years ago.
Smartphones with a retractable camera in 2022
What do we end up with? As of 2022, there are no smartphones without a cutout in mass production, you will not find a phone with a retractable camera in the store, and there are several reasons for this:
- making a cutout in the screen is cheaper than installing a retractable mechanism;
- the moving camera deprives the smartphone of moisture protection and may become clogged;
- you can’t install a good front-facing camera in a retractable unit due to the modest thickness of modern phones;
- users are quite satisfied with the cutouts, and all criticism of droplets and holes does not go beyond comments in anonymous chats.
For perfectionists and connoisseurs of clean screens, one hope remains – phones with an under-screen camera. It is still difficult to imagine how manufacturers will be able to make such a front camera not only publicly available, but also good in terms of photo quality. Therefore, once again the thought comes to mind that a person gets used to everything. And such an interesting feature of past years as a moving camera, without any special honors, went into oblivion, leaving its place for new experiments.