Apple Working on Under-Display Front Cameras for Future iPhones: Report

UPC technology will essentially allow Apple iPhones to have a full-screen display with no cutouts for the front camera as it will be placed below the display.

Highlights
  • Apple iPhone models after 2026 could sport Under Panel Camera (UPC) technology.
  • UPC allow iPhones to have a full-screen display with no cutouts for the front camera.
  • It looks like Apple could experiment with Under Panel Face ID on iPhones before using UPC.
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Apple is said to be working on a new camera technology, where the front camera could be placed under the display. This means that there won’t be cutouts on the display to house the selfie camera, as is the case with the latest iPhone models.

The front camera on the latest iPhone 15 series, which was made official in September, is placed inside Dynamic Island. For those unaware, Dynamic Island was introduced on the iPhone 14 Pro models and extended to all iPhone 15 variants. It is a pill-shaped area, which rests on top of the display and houses the Face ID camera on iPhones. It can also be used to display content.

Apple Working on Under Panel Camera Technology For iPhones

LG Innotek, which is an affiliate group of South Korea’s LG Group, is developing the Under Panel Camera (UPC) technology for iPhones, according to a report by The Elec. The company has already reportedly filed a patent for a special lens called the ‘Freeform Optic’ (translated from Korean). In addition, terms such as ‘Optical system, camera module and mobile terminal’, ‘Optical module ‘, ‘Optical Module’, etc (translated from Korean) have been patented as well.

UPC technology will essentially allow iPhones to have a full-screen display with no cutouts for the front camera as it will be placed below the display. The report suggests that the camera lens hole will not be visible when the camera is not being used. This will allow for a fully uninterrupted display, which will likely make watching content, playing games, etc on the iPhones more immersive. This means that Apple could get rid of the Dynamic Island on its future iPhones.

The regular front camera modules that we see on current-generation iPhones are placed above the display, which allows for the transmission of ample light when clicking pictures, thus resulting in good-quality photos.

The main challenge with UPC technology will be to minimise the loss of light as in this case, the light would first hit the display and then reach the camera lens. An under-display camera module could result in 20 percent less brightness, which could lead to lower-quality images when compared to existing iPhone cameras, and more such issues, according to the report. LG Innotek’s ‘Freeform Optic’ is said to overcome this problem.

However, the report notes that iPhone models with UPC technology are expected to be made official only after 2026.

It looks like Apple could experiment with Under Panel Face ID on iPhones before using UPC. This means that only the Face ID component under the display won’t be visible when not in use. The UPC technology is said to be under development and the goal is to increase the transmission of light by 40 percent after 2024.

Meanwhile, Apple is also planning to make major changes to its next-generation iPhone models as well, where the signature mute switch could be replaced with an Action Button on all iPhone 16 models. If reports turn out to be true, then this could be among the biggest changes in the iPhone’s ports since the removal of the headphone jack.