Posted on June 23 2020
Xiaomi seems to be working on a new way to increase screen to body ratio on smartphones. The company has filed a new patent that shows a sliding camera module on the back, putting both front and rear cameras on the back of the phone. The idea, essentially, is to increase the screen size and have more screen-to-body ratio.
The patent shows a vertical strip on the back, which holds three cameras. Two of these are the rear cameras, while the last one is the front. The photos in the patent suggest that there will be two visible camera modules on the back and one spot that’s left open. This is because the rear module slides up over the edge of the phone.
In that state, you see a front camera peeking from the top of the phone. The design would essentially let Xiaomi eliminate all the bezels from the front. The company has already used under display proximity sensors and microphones on earlier models of their Mi Mix smartphones, so they could ideally produce a 95% plus screen-to-body ratio. Many tech companies try to achieve high screen-to-body ratio for their smartphones, for example, Apple has been reducing notch for its iPhones or OnePlus switched front cameras to punch-hole.
What’s unclear though is the kind of camera resolutions that Xiaomi will be able to use here. The company has used a 108MP camera on the back of its latest flagship smartphones, and mostly uses 64 and 48MP sensors on phones today. It’s possible that a rear module will help the company use larger resolutions for the front camera too.
It’s worth noting that the concept of sliding cameras is not new per se. Smartphone companies, like Oppo and Samsung, have used sliding modules to enhance the screen-to-body ratio of their phones. In those phones though, the entire backplate would slide upwards and use the rear cameras for the front. There have also been phones like the Asus Zenfone 6, where the rear camera module flips to use them as the front shooter.
Companies have been looking for ways like this to increase screen-to-body ratio on phones. The Oppo Find X, for instance, has 86.9% screen to body ratio, while the Samsung Galaxy A80 had 85.76%.
Xiaomi's patent can be seen here.