In the years since phone companies embraced the full-screen design, the front camera has always been a problem. While most of the phone industry seems to have settled on the hole-punch design, there’s still some life left in the pop-up camera option.
We could see the pop-up camera return on Samsung’s Galaxy A series for 2021, if this patent uncovered by LetsGoDigital (opens in new tab) is anything to go by. Oh, and this one would stand out by the fact it’s also the rear camera. And that it rotates.
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The mid-range Galaxy A series isn’t really the place you’d expect to see an experimental new feature like this. But Samsung’s first pop-up camera did debut on a Galaxy A80 back in 2019 (opens in new tab), so there’s a precedent for this sort of thing.
But this patent doesn’t describe your typical pop-up camera. Remember that part about rotating? That’s relevant because this is actually the phone’s rear camera, with a mechanism that lets it pop up and flip round.
Flipping cameras are nothing new. In fact, the aforementioned Galaxy A80 was able to spin its camera to see in either direction. But the way this patent works is pretty ingenious, since it involves having the rear camera module on a “column” that physically moves around when you’re switching between camera modes.
Not only does this mean you can skip the dedicated front camera lens, it’s a very clean way of doing it. After all, previous flipping cameras , like the Asus Zenfone 7, had much larger and bulkier-looking camera systems. Plus, they often feel overengineered.
Of course, just because a patent exists doesn’t mean it will ever see the light of day. Sometimes patents are filed because they can be, and sometimes these features end up being unfeasible for a mass-produced phone. There’s absolutely no telling what’s going to happen.
That said, I do hope this one does make it. Not only is it a clever idea, it’s the design that actually makes it worth seeing. It’s clean, interesting, and it helps remove the disconnect between the front and rear cameras.
The phone industry seems hell bent on making under-display cameras happen, and the ZTE Axon 20 5G is one of the first to do that. While intriguing, this kind of design does come with some problems. Like the fact you can still tell where the camera is hiding, even if it’s not immediately obvious. A mechanism like Samsung's would free up the screen to be all screen, and in a neat and interesting way.