Forget OnePlus 9 — OnePlus working on full-screen phone without a punch hole

oneplus bezel camera patent
(Image credit: LetsGoDigital)

When it comes to full-screen devices, the front camera still remains a problem. Over the years manufacturers have tried several ways to get round it, but a new OnePlus patent (via LetsGoDigital) could be the best one yet.

Rather than relying on a pop-up, hole-punch, or in-display camera, OnePlus has designed a camera that’s so small it can live inside a phone’s bezel.

Having a camera in the bezel is nothing new, since that’s where they used to live in the days before full-screen phones. But the key difference here is that the hypothetical phone in the patent still has the same ultra-thin bezel you’d expect from any other OnePlus phone. What’s more, apparently this design works out to be cheaper than punching a camera hole in the display itself.

It’s quite simple, too, since the design involves punching a hole in the bezel and covering it with a transparent plate. Then, bingo. The camera is in the bezel, and you get to enjoy a full, uninterrupted display without any fancy gimmicks to hide the camera away. No pop-ups like the OnePlus 7 Pro, no under-display camera like the ZTE Axon 20 5G, and no hole punches in the screen like the Samsung Galaxy S21.

OnePlus’s patent also claims that other benefits include a greater screen-to-body ratio, and that this design has high levels of reliability. It also benefits from low production costs and high yield, though whether any savings would be passed onto the customer isn’t clear. Considering how OnePlus flagships already tend to be on the cheaper side, this could easily help keep costs down as other specs improve.

The only question is if and when OnePlus might implement this tech in its phones. Patents don’t always end up being used, but let’s hope that this case is a little bit different. After all, if the design is cheaper and easier to implement, then there’s no reason why OnePlus should continue with the hole-punch camera for very long.

It’s not likely that this will be a feature on the OnePlus 9 range. The patent was released on February 4, and considering the OnePlus 9 is expected to arrive sometime in March, all the timelines are a little bit too close. The OnePlus 9 is also set to come with the same display as the OnePlus 8T, which featured a prominent camera hole.

The OnePlus 9T or OnePlus 10 both seem like more likely candidates, though there’s obviously no guarantee.  Let’s just hope that, by making space in the bezel for the front camera, OnePlus doesn’t neglect the top speaker.

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.