ZTE has officially launched the Axon 20 5G, the first commercially available smartphone with an under-display camera. Xiaomi teased the technology back in June 2019 but ZTE has beaten it to market.

Recent smartphone design has seen the notch or camera cut out become the norm, but the Axon 20 hints at the future by successfully hiding the front-facing camera behind the screen itself.

This works, ZTE said, through “high transparency material that includes new organic and inorganic films, thereby improving the light input to the front camera.” This remains vague, and we’ll have to wait and see if the technology works well.

ZTE also said, coyly, that:

“[A] built-in independent dual-control chip and integrated driver circuits have been employed to enable the color synchronization between the front camera and the conventional display. Besides, the unique driver circuit layout design and precision miniaturization components have been used to avoid the interference, and restrain the impact on the front camera.”

We shall see what this means when media get their hands on the phone.

Image: ZTE

One theory is that the 32Mp camera could be continuously capturing images between the electric flashes of the 6.92in 2460x1080 OLED display and stitching together the image, but it is unconfirmed at the time of writing. The camera is never visible to the users, so there is certainly some new trickery at work.

Aside from this smartphone milestone, the Axon 20 5G is actually relatively affordable, launching with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage for RMB 2,198 in its native China. That is about £240, with prices rising for 8/128GB and 8/256GB – but all reasonable considering the specs and 5G support.

The phone has the Snapdragon 765G processor, the same seen on the OnePlus Nord and LG Velvet, with Android 10, and under-display fingerprint sensor, and several colours available, though availability outside of China is unclear.

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