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Over the last couple of years, we have seen smartphone manufacturers try a number of different things in order to move a phone’s front-facing selfie camera off of the top bezel. This way, these models could come with thin bezels and feature as close to an edge-to-edge screen as possible.
It seems that the notch, even the smaller waterdrop variant, could be on the way out. While we have seen pop-up cameras and sliders used, many manufacturers are putting small punch holes in their handsets’ displays for front-facing camera(s); with the right wallpaper, any distraction can be minimalized.
And while that might be the preferred location for the selfie cam these days, ZTE has a new concept phone that features yet another place to house the front-facing camera.
To allow for the phone’s thin bezels, the ZTE Axon V concept device is equipped with a side-mounted 3D camera setup. According to Notebook Italia (via SlashGear), this consists of two sensors mounted on a permanent tab that juts out of the phone along the upper right side of its body. The result is a screen-to-body ratio close to 100%. The ZTE Axon V features a 6.8-inch OLED panel with an aspect ratio of 21:9 (similar to the Sony Xperia 1, Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus), which is done to give the user a more cinematic experience while streaming video.
ZTE says that it will use the extra space created by the dedicated tab to equip the device with a large capacity battery. In case you were wondering, the dual camera setup on the back of the phone is placed normally on the rear panel. Despite its current concept status, there is a good chance that this phone will make it to the marketplace sometime this year. While it does seem like a different, effective and unique way to keep the handset’s bezels razor thin, there are some questions. Will consumers mind having an asymmetrical phone? Will the tab get in the way for some users?
Thus far, there is not much information regarding the functionality of the 3D sensors. Besides selfies, they could be employed for some type of facial recognition system on the phone and for any Augmented Reality features.
ZTE has another concept phone that uses a side sliding panel to house the cameras, flash and sensors
ZTE also has another concept phone, the Axon S, that could be mass-produced sometime this year. Instead of using a dedicated tab for the front-facing sensors, the Axon S has a side-sliding tab containing both the front and rear facing cameras, flash and any other necessary sensor. Because the slider carries both the front and rear camera sensors, the back of the phone is a solid panel with nothing on it at all.
Both the Axon S and Axon V employ an in-display fingerprint scanner and the speakers on both models are hidden in the top frame of each unit. The rear-facing sensors on the Axon S include a 48MP primary camera, a 19MP secondary snapper, a 5x optical zoom and possibly a Xenon flash. We should also point out that both concept handsets could support 5G connectivity.
While ZTE was the fourth largest smartphone manufacturer in the U.S. as recently as the first quarter of 2018, the U.S. government’s double whammy has removed the company from that position, replaced by Motorola since Q2 of last year. Last April, the U.S. Commerce Department placed an export ban on ZTE, which prevented the company from sourcing components, parts and software from the U.S. The ban was imposed because the company failed to comply with certain restrictions and punishments prescribed by the Commerce Department after ZTE did business with Iran and North Korea, violating U.S. laws. Additionally, ZTE has had its reputation destroyed in the U.S. by lawmakers who have called the company a national security threat, and claim that its devices and networking gear spy on behalf of the communist Chinese government. Even though ZTE has adamantly denied that it collects intelligence for China, we would not expect to see either the ZTE Axon S or Axon V offered in the U.S. by major wireless providers.