In a relatively short period of time, we’ve gone from relatively thick bezels at the top and bottom of our smartphones, to increased real estate courtesy of a central notch, to punch hole displays. Samsung’s most recent Galaxy S10 family of smartphones (read our review here), which were announced last month, fully embrace their punch hole “Infinity-O” display.
"Punching a hole in the OLED display is a very challenging technology," said Yang Byung-duk, who serves as Samsung’s vice president of Mobile Communication R&D Group Display. "We tried the technology for Galaxy's 10th anniversary model and think the strategy worked as a result."
But like the notch, punch hole displays still represent a design compromise, and aren’t exactly aesthetically pleasing. To counter this, Samsung is currently working on display technology that would allow it to make a truly “full screen” smartphone with no notches or punch hole cutouts.
"Though it wouldn't be possible to make [a full-screen smartphone] in the next 1-2 years, the technology can move forward to the point where the camera hole will be invisible, while not affecting the camera's function in any way," Yang added.
Great news! Samsung established the direction of mobile phone design in 2019!— Ice universe (@UniverseIce) October 19, 2018
On October 18th, Samsung Display invited about 20 customers to hold the "2018 Samsung OLED Forum" at the Shenzhen Marriott Hotel in China. At the meeting, Samsung showed a PPT pic.twitter.com/sYu0ORTd6V
This would be a great achievement for smartphone displays, although it looks as though we might have to wait until the inevitable Galaxy S12 arrives before we see such technology from Samsung. In the Galaxy S10 family, the front facing selfie camera(s) is placed in the punch hole cutout. In addition, the phones still incorporate an earpiece speaker in the tiny bezels above the screen.
However, the company is also looking to incorporate Crystal Sound OLED display technology that will allow the display itself to function as a speaker. If you recall, the LG G8 ThinQ employs similar technology, as do a number of other Chinese smartphone OEMs.
We should note that we have previously discussed patents that Samsung has filed that directly address all of these above technologies, including embedded camera sensors under the display. We’re eager to see what the end result will be once Samsung is able to bring all of these technologies together in a single device.