Shrinking bezels and notched displays are all steps towards an ultimate goal: An all-screen smartphone. A device with no notch, chin nor forehead. The kind of phone you see depicted in sci-fi movies as the “phone of the future”.
It’s not easy, obviously, because the front of your smartphone has a whole bunch of sensors, controllers and various other elements necessary to give you a full smartphone experience. That meant the past few years have been all about moving these elements around, finding compromises and coming up with new technology to overcome this final hurdle.
And while everyone’s looking at the big dogs at Samsung, Huawei or Apple for this, it appears that Lenovo could be the first company to crack the all-screened smartphone code. Here’s the Z5 and it apparently has a borderline absurd 95% screen-to-body ratio.
A drawing of Lenovo’s upcoming Z5 flagship smartphone was teased by Lenovo VP Chang Cheng on Weibo last week, depicting a smartphone with a screen that spanned the entirety of the front of the device. There’s no notch, no chin, and no forehead. All there was besides the screen were four super slim bezels keeping the display from sliding off the handset.
Chang Cheng also shared a teaser image of the device last week that seems to confirm the device pictured in the drawings and it looks like a stunner of a smartphone.
According to Chang Cheng’s Weibo post, the Lenovo Z5 will launch with four technological breakthroughs, including 18 patented technologies. While he didn’t specify what these technologies are, it’s pretty obvious that Lenovo had to do quite a lot of creative thinking if they wanted to realise this vision of a full-screened smartphone.
There is already a lot of cool tech that we’ve seen manufacturers implement to get rid of various front elements on a smartphone. The earpiece, for example, can be replaced by a piezoelectric one (like the original Mi MIX) where the whole screen vibrates to produce sound, alongside an ultrasonic proximity sensor (also on the original Mi MIX), and an under-display fingerprint scanner . Even a screen’s display controller can be hidden by folding the screen back on itself like Apple does with the iPhone X‘s OLED panel.
However, there is one thing nobody has really found a practical way of hiding from the front of the screen yet: The selfie camera.
While most phones have a notch or a small chin to hide the selfie shooter, an all-screen smartphone wouldn’t, so it will be interesting to see how Lenovo deals with this. Vivo’s Apex concept phone has a selfie camera that can pop up from the inside of the device (like a periscope), which is really cool but since it is motorised and electronically controlled, we’re not sold on its reliability.
Another alternative we can think of would be to have a manual/spring-loaded selfie camera (think Sony RX100 viewfinder) that can pop up with a physical switch and bring you straight into the selfie camera mode on your phone.
Or, Lenovo could just have one main camera at the back. And, should you need to take selfies, allow you to pull a switch to flip the entire camera module out and up so that it faces in front — kind of like a switchblade.
But all of this is our speculation. Since Lenovo’s got 18 patents and four technological breakthroughs, it’s entirely possible that the company has come up with their own ways around these problems.
All we’re hoping for is that this phone doesn’t just turn out to be some vapourware or elaborate marketing stunt for a phone that falls far short of expectations.
What do you guys think of the Lenovo Z5? Let me know in the comments below.