Back in 2013, ‘selfie’ became Oxford’s word of the year. We know that people love to take a selfie, and there were 98 million selfie posts uploaded per day in 2018. Then what about the selfie camera in smartphones? Well, this is interesting as there are a lot of front camera designs and concepts for recent years.

Some of you might realize that the smartphone’s display is getting bigger and bigger. Smartphone manufacturers are really ambitious to get rid of that bezel from your phone. However, the appearance of the front camera makes it a little bit tricky.

Let’s get started

  • The First Front Camera

  • The First Notch

  • More Notch

  • The Birth of Pop-Up and Sliding Front Camera

  • The Rotating Camera

  • The Pop-Up + Slide + Rotating Camera

  • In-Display Camera?


The First Front Camera

In 2004, Sony Ericsson played a major role when it comes to mobile phone front camera. Z1010 was the first commercial phone to have a front camera and it has a 0.3MP resolution.

 

Z1010
Sony Ericsson Z1010

We don’t use the term of selfie camera for Z1010 as the front camera is mainly purposed to do video conference.

The First Notch

We don’t talk about how the selfie term becomes popular here and you know that every front camera design before the notch is all similar. The notch display for housing the selfie camera is purposed to provide the better phone’s screen-to-body ratio.

If you think that iPhone X was the first smartphone to use Notch then you are totally wrong. It was Essential Phone PH-1 to put the notch on display before it was cool. Released in 2017, the device went on sale six months before iPhone X.

Essential Phone
Essential Phone PH-1

The first time you take a look at the notch, you might realize that it is similar to Samsung’s Infinity-U Display. With the notch housing the front camera, the phone was doing a good invention back then.

Galaxy M30
Galaxy M30 Infinity-U Display
Credit: Samsung

However, this was a total failure. Essential really faced a challenge to establish the brand and the follow up to the PH-1 was canceled.

More Notch

iPhone X was the first one to make it went huge. While some people hate the notch on their display, the notch doesn’t look like to disappear for more than a year. After iPhone X made it go big, other smartphone manufacturers followed up.

iPhone X
iPhone X

However, Samsung made its own move with Infinity display. Samsung has Infinity-U, Infinity-V, and Infinity-O Display in its smartphones. This is nice since Samsung doesn’t want to put that big notch covering your screen. With its Infinity-O Display in Galaxy S10 lineup, you might say that this is actually not a notch. Yes, this is a punch hole selfie camera.

Galaxy S10
Galaxy S10e, S10, S10+ Infinity-O Display
Credit: Samsung

Actually, the Infinity-O display doesn’t seem to get rid that camera-covering issue in smartphone’s display recently. As you might be bothered by the camera while playing games, you must put an extra effort to enable the Full-Screen Apps feature.

Read about how to get rid the notch on your display

The Birth of Pop-up Front Camera

For getting rid that notch from your screen, a Chinese smartphone manufacturer – VIVO launched a smartphone with a pop-up front camera. This is actually a really nice way to provide better screen-to-body ration without putting any notch in the screen.

VIVO NEX
VIVO NEX Pop-Up Camera

VIVO NEX was the first smartphone using a pop-up front camera. Released in 2018, this phone really made a big change in the form of the smartphone’s camera. No more notch, better display.

Some Others Don’t Pop but Slide

Somehow, having a mechanical pop-up camera also brings some other issues. Will it pop forever? How long will it last? What if I drop my phone during selfie? Yes, you can’t just pull that camera manually from its housing and that camera might literally pop-out from your phone if you accidentally drop it.

Smartphones like Xiaomi Mi Mix 3, Honor Magic 20, and Lenovo Z5 Pro also have a hidden front camera. Fortunately, they won’t pop but slide. This is making it safer for clumsy people out there to have a slider camera smartphone.

Slide camera phone
Xiaomi Mi Mix 3, Honor Magic 20, Lenovo Z5 Pro

Is it a perfect innovation? Not yet. You know that having a slider in a smartphone will make it bulky. Some people won’t have a problem with it but some others will. It is a little bit uncomfortable to put a bulky smartphone in your pocket though.

The Rotating Camera

Let’s go back to 2013. The selfie camera will never compete for the quality of the rear camera. Yes, everybody knows that. OPPO introduced N1 for that issue. How?

With its rotating camera, N1 would take any picture from both the front and rear side with the same resolution. Well, it is rotating, though. This camera actually won’t make any change on the smartphone’s display as it has a huge housing on the top of the device.

OPPO N1
OPPO N1 Rotating Camera

But you can take any pictures with the same quality from any side, which is nice.

The Pop-Up + Slide + Rotating Camera

Seems like there is no answer for providing the best smartphone’s front camera experience. However, this looks promising.

In 2019, yes, this year, Samsung launched Galaxy A80 with its automatic rotating camera. If having a notch is your problem, this device has no notch at all because it uses the slider mechanism for the selfie camera.

galaxy a80
Credit: Samsung

Check the video below to see its rotating camera module:

The most interesting feature is this camera also rotates, so it also provides you the same quality picture from selfies and rear shot. This innovation really makes the front camera in Galaxy A80 worth to try. No more notch, best shots for anything.

In-Display Camera?

This one is still a concept. Samsung introduced its plan to put the selfie camera in the smartphone’s display. If this would be true, then we could have a really nice device with no notch bothering the screen, and no pop-up/slider for the smartphone’s mechanism.

Infinity Display
Credit: Ben Geskin

The in-display camera, New Infinity, perhaps will be featured in the upcoming Galaxy Note 10. Based on the rumors, Galaxy Note 10 will come with no physical buttons on its body. So the plan to put the camera in its display might also come true.


How far have we gone for that front camera? This is actually interesting. If you realize, smartphone manufacturers put more efforts in selfie camera designs. While the rear cameras are getting ‘more cameras’ and more resolution. The most interesting things in it perhaps the introduction of 3D camera and the Optical Zoom feature like in OPPO Reno’s (it also has a shark fin pop-up camera).

Why is this important? The development of front cameras like the rotating system will make any cool features from those rear cameras come to your selfie. This is heaven for those selfie addicts. Don’t you think so?

Well, that is our brief talk about the recent developments of smartphone’s front camera. What do you think about its developments and the user’s benefits from it? Let us know in the comment section below.