Destination “full screen”
In September 2017, Apple followed Samsung and other Android manufacturers, abandoning the traditional 16: 9 screen and switching to a 2: 1 aspect ratio. Starting this year, the traditional rectangular shape of smartphone screens began to break down: Apple remained loyal to “rabbit ears”, Chinese manufacturers learned for a while and then switched to using “water drops” , Samsung uses “charm mole” when “cutting” a small part of the screen …
To create “flawless” screens, manufacturers used to create imperfect solutions.
A new destination has been outlined in the eyes of the entire smartphone world: somehow phones have to get their hands on a true “full screen” experience. In other words, manufacturers have to create machines with an all-screen front, without “rabbit ears”, “water drops” or “moles”. For a while, OPPO and Vivo created a “pop-up” camera solution that hid the camera mechanism in the camera body and only opened it when the user opened the selfie app.
After 2 years, the camera phones are sinking into the past, OPPO and Vivo consider to admit the shortcomings of this technology when switching to the use of “water drops” and “moles”: mechanisms Opening / closing the camera is both inconvenient for users and potentially many risks during use.
A new direction
Many companies soon showed off prototypes of camera technology under the screen, but so far there are no finished products.
In September and December 2019, Xiaomi and OPPO respectively announced the model devices using a completely different solution: bringing the camera hidden under the screen. A new race begins again, and manufacturers understand that under-screen cameras are the only way to get their hands on the incomparable experience that users have come to expect.
However, the prototype has been around for a long time and neither OPPO nor Xiaomi has dared to announce commercial products. At the same time, in the summer of 2020, consecutive rumors appeared about a new player: Vsmart, Vietnam’s phone brand. In August 2020, Vsmart opened up on social networks “Are you ready for the era of hidden camera under the screen with Vsmart?”.
Thought went ahead, but in the end, Vsmart lost the title “first” to a Chinese company called ZTE. In early September 2020, the once-in-the-top 5 brand announced the launch of the Axon 20 5G, the first smartphone with an under-screen camera.
ZTE Axon is the first smartphone with an officially announced under-screen camera.
Concerned about image quality
But it is also a pity for this new technology, when holding the Axon 20 in the hands of users, users will quickly understand why Xiaomi and OPPO have not yet made products, why most manufacturers still say no to “hidden” camera technology. Even if it’s a somewhat fictional technology, the camera under the screen is actually still a camera … usually, it still has to capture the light to create the image. Light must pass through the smartphone’s curtain before it reaches the sensor.
The result is images with very poor detail despite 32MP resolution. Every photo is like having a layer of mist covering the whole image is “soft” very strongly. In areas with a high difference in brightness, aberrations appear a lot.
The photos “foggy”, less detailed from the camera under the screen of ZTE.
Before the launch of Aris Pro, many people expressed concerns about the camera technology under the screen of this Vietnamese smartphone. After all, no matter how advanced the technology, but not meeting the needs of the user, it will not be successful. Aris Pro’s camera will also suffer the same challenges as the Axon 20, which also runs the risk of producing poorly detailed, mist-covered shots due to poor light capture.
Solutions of Vsmart (and VinAI)
But Vsmart – or rather VinGroup – has not only hardware power but software power as well. Right on the launch day, Aris Pro was announced with Vcam Kristal, a product of VinAI Artificial Intelligence Research Institute. Combining advanced technologies such as computer vision, computational photography and deep neural networks, Vcam Kristal’s aim is to overcome the limitations of hardware, creating “almost identical” images. compared to traditional cameras.
When launching Aris Pro 5G, Vsmart not only introduced the hardware, but also talked about software solutions from AI.
According to our guess, the “computational photography” mentioned by Vsmart / VinAI has the same nature as the technology that has been used by Apple / Google on iPhone and Pixel for many years. By capturing multiple frames in a row in a short period of time, their innovative algorithms can stitch and process them into a complete final image. In this way, the physical limit can be broken – theoretically, 4, 6, or 8 poorly detailed frames can still produce a well-detailed image.
At the end of October 2020, the actual photos taken from Aris Pro were officially announced. As expected, the front camera of the device produces very poor quality without AI processing. But with Vcam Kristal, the final photo has quite good detail and there is no fog. Although still not comparable with traditional cameras, Aris Pro can be considered to have succeeded in creating pictures with “enough use” quality.
An innovative technology will only really make sense when creating a good enough experience for users – like how Vsmart / VinAI did.
This is a worthy way to start a new era of technology. ZTE may be the forerunner, but in the end a camera phone that can only produce blurred, blurred, and flawed photos will still be a camera phone … useless. New technology, no matter how advanced, cannot be chosen by the user when their ultimate goal is not met.
Solution of Vietnamese people
Vsmart is different. Even though it was released 2 weeks later, Vsmart is still the first to realize under-screen camera technology in a way that is meaningful to users. Instead of racing just to get the media label, Vsmart has created a product quality enough to bring users into the era of under-screen cameras.
Even more proud, the solution of Vsmart (and VinAI) is the solution of the Vietnamese people. Computing photography, AI or any other software technology is completely different from hardware components such as screens or sensors: if any manufacturer has. If you buy components from Samsung, Sony or LG, the algorithm won’t be shared with anyone. Currently, Vsmart is the only one holding the algorithm enough to overcome the weaknesses of the camera under the screen – even when the big, top brands in the world like Xiaomi and OPPO are still losing out.
Vsmart has surpassed all other brands, creating the first SOFTWARE solution for under-screen cameras.
A bright future is opening up before Vsmart’s eyes. AI algorithms will certainly not only be reserved for the camera under the screen but also can be applied to traditional cameras. For years, computational photography has been the spearhead of competition for Apple and Google in the face of aggressive attacks by other brands. If Vsmart / VinAI steadily steps on the chosen path, we have the right to believe that the camera quality of Vietnamese smartphones will one day step by step with the big players who own the current platform.