Apple plans to hide Face ID from next year’s new iPhones, starting from iPhone 15 Series. Samsung Display is developing a new Under Panel Camera (UPC) technology required for this. Apart from this, the new technology will be used in Samsung Electronics’ foldable phone that is scheduled to hit the stores next year. By the way, LG Display is also developing UPC technology.
It turns out that the Cupertino-based company is planning to apply a hole display and under-panel face ID to the front of the iPhone 15 (tentative name) series’ Pro models.
Punch-hole display refers to a technology that leaves only the camera hole on the front of the product. In fact, there are many Android smartphones adopting this technology. As for Samsung, it released similar smartphones much earlier. Apple is going to use it for the first time in the iPhone 14 (tentative name) series’ Pro lineup. The latter will be available in the second half of this year.
Underpanel Face ID
In terms of Underpanel Face ID, it refers to a technology, in which the Face ID part required for user recognition on the iPhone looks like a normal display when this function is not used. The current iPhones come with a notch design. It’s a special area to host not only the front camera but all those sensors that are required for this feature.
In fact, in terms of technology, nothing changes. But when the feature is not used, UPC technology will make the lens hole invisible. Samsung Electronics applied UPC to the internal screen of the foldable phone Galaxy Z Fold 3, which was out last year.
Currently, Samsung Display is developing new UPC technology with Canada’s OTI Lumionics necessary for the implementation of the Underpanel Face ID. The new UPC includes a metal patterning layer (MPL) using a cathode mask material.
How Does It Work?
Smartphone organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) adopt a top emission method. There is a light-emitting layer. If you make a pattern to make a part of the cathode transparent, light from outside can take a picture and recognize the user.
OTI Lumionics develops a technology, in which an organic cathode patterning material (CPM) is pattern-deposited with a fine metal mask (FMM) and then the anode is deposited with an open metal mask (OMM) to avoid the CPM. When the anode material, which is a magnesium-silver (Mg-Ag) alloy, is gathered in a place where there is no CPM, the pattern is completed. OTI Lumionics has revealed that a cathode pattern can be made by adding a chamber for CPM deposition to the evaporator.
If Samsung Display completes development as planned, the new UPC technology will be applied first to Samsung Electronics’ foldable phone Galaxy Z Fold 5 (tentative name), which is scheduled for the next year. Plus, it should appear on Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro lineup.
Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy Z Fold 4 will be released this year. It should come with the same UPC structure as its predecessor, the Galaxy Z Fold 3. In the existing UPC, patterns were made by laser drilling. Apple has rejected UPC technology using this method.
Meanwhile, LG Display is also developing UPC according to its own roadmap. The goal is to increase the light transmittance of UPC to 20% by 2023 and 40% by 2024. LG Display plans to use a transparent PI substrate instead of the existing polyimide substrate for UPC application.
ZTE, with its Axon 20 Series became the first major player to bring the under-display camera technology to market. With a company like Apple, it seems under-display cameras have a good future ahead.