LG Innotek is paving the Way for iPhone's under-display camera

Apple UDC concept jpg.webp

Apple‘s Korean suppliers dive into the development of under-display cameras (UDC), aiming to deliver the first iPhone with a truly “all-screen” appearance. This move, led by LG Innotek, marks a groundbreaking endeavor to eliminate the visible hole in the display without hindering the image quality.

UDCs distinguish themselves from typical front camera modules by residing beneath the display, ensuring an unobstructed screen when the camera is inactive. However, the technology presents challenges related to light delivery to the image sensor, potentially impacting image quality and brightness due to light loss through the display area.

Apple could use under-display Face ID by 2025 and under-display camera by 2027

To overcome this hurdle, LG Innotek is pioneering a “freeform optic” multiple-lens system. This innovative approach aims to reduce optical aberrations and enhance the light intensity ratio around the optical module, ultimately improving peripheral image quality. The development process, initiated by LG Innotek, builds upon patents published since December of the previous year, with expectations of further patents as the project advances.

LG Display, an affiliate of LG Innotek’s LG Group, has also entered the UDC development arena. The company is aiming to increase UDC’s light transmittance to 20% by 2023 and an impressive 40% after 2024 (via The Elec). Hopefully, it will align with Apple’s standards by that time. Notably, Apple reportedly received a UDC sample from an undisclosed vendor; however, it fell short of the tech giant’s performance expectations.

Apple reportedly aims to adopt the under-display Face ID in the iPhone 17 Pro by 2025. Subsequently, analysts expect Apple to include the under-display camera in 2027’s “Pro” iPhone models, according to insights from respected analyst Ross Young of Display Supply Chain Consultants.

However, Samsung has been using UDC since 2021, with some limitations

While the UDC’s deployment in iPhones is slated for the mid-2020s, Samsung has already embraced this technology in its Galaxy Z Fold series of foldable phones since 2021. Samsung’s implementation, however, currently lags behind flagship bar-type smartphones in pixel count. It goes to show that the under-display technology is still in its early stages and has a long way to go to meet the required quality standards.