Forget Samsung Galaxy S21 — this phone has first under-display camera

zte axon 20 5g
(Image credit: ZTE)

The prospect of a camera under a phone's display has been thrown around a lot in recent years, but the closest we’ve ever come in a shipping device is the now-standard hole-punch camera.

Now the launch of a true full-screen phone is imminent, but it won’t be coming from a big player like Samsung or Apple. Instead ZTE will launch the first phone with an in-display camera, and it’s coming on December 21.

The ZTE Axon 20 5G was originally announced in September, but at the time it was exclusive to China. But now ZTE has announced that the phone will be getting a global launch. While there’s no word on North American availability, it will be coming to the U.K., EU, Japan, and other key regions.

There had long been rumors that the Samsung Galaxy S21 would feature an under-display camera, but they were shot down months ago with the news that Samsung wouldn't release such a device until late 2021 at the earliest. Since then all the Galaxy S21 renders and leaks have shown a traditional hole-punch camera just like the one on every other notch-free phone.

Having an under-display camera means the ZTE Axon 20 5G has a full-screen display — a feature that died off after pop-up cameras fell out of fashion. While there were never any issues with pop-up lenses, there's a big risk of mechanical failure. We’ll have to wait and see how good this camera is, given that it’s literally covered by an OLED panel and a pane of glass.

As for other specs, the Axon 20 5G has a lot to like. It has a 6.92-inch OLED display with FHD+ resolution, a 90Hz refresh rate, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765 chip, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage and a 4,220 mAh battery. There's also a quad rear camera that features a 64MP main lens, an 8MP ultra wide lens, plus 2MP depth and macro sensors. They’re not flagship specs, but they’re definitely the high end of mid-range.

Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, though we’d expect the Axon 20 5G to cost more than the 2,498 yuan (£284/$382) it’ll be on sale for in China.

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.