This genius retractable-camera phone makes the dreaded bump disappear

Oppo retractable camera teaser
(Image credit: Oppo)

Ahead of its annual Inno Day event, Chinese manufacturer Oppo has given us a 15-second glimpse of what it sees as the future of smartphone cameras.

In the clip, a “self-developed retractable camera” is seen popping out of the phone’s body before retreating back inside, in much the same way as the lens might on a traditional point-and-shoot camera. While there’s a modestly raised camera area on the back of the phone, we assume the retractable lens could eventually make the dreaded bump a thing of the past. 

More moving parts sound like a bit of a durability nightmare, but the clip suggests that Oppo has two ideas in place to mitigate that. First, the phone in the clip is shown covered in water droplets, implying that it’s a waterproof design. Secondly, the phone is shown being dropped, only for the camera to automatically retract ahead of impact. That kind of safety feature has been seen before on phones with pop-up selfie cameras, such as the OnePlus 7 Pro

The phone in the clip is a generic Oppo handset, but the text on the camera module says it’s a 1/1.56-inch sensor with a f/2.4 aperture and a 50mm lens. That doesn’t sound like a zoom lens, though a movable sensor could theoretically enhance long-distance photography too.

As for when we’ll see this feature appearing in a commercially available smartphone, allowing us to actually test it, you may not want to hold your breath. At last year’s Inno Day, Oppo debuted a concept roll-up smartphone, and the device is still yet to see the light of day.

Still, it will be interesting to hear more about this innovation and what Oppo sees as the key advantages at the event, which is scheduled to take place Dec. 14 and 15. Other products teased include the company’s first ever Neural Processing Unit and a set of smart glasses.

In the more immediate future, Oppo has already confirmed that its next flagship will be one of the first phones to benefit from Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset. While the company didn’t say what form the handset will take, it’s likely to be the Oppo Find X4 Pro, a follow up to March’s Oppo Find X3 Pro. The few leaks and rumors doing the rounds suggest the handset might also feature a QHD display, 12GB RAM and 80W charging. 

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.