As a manufacturer that “doesn’t make a move easily, but makes a move that will be amazing”, what kind of full-screen products Apple can produce has naturally become the focus of much anticipation. Nowadays, there are many concept pictures of iPhones circulating on the Internet, which look amazing, but we all know that the reality is as skinny as the ideal is. The iPhone in 2017 will definitely have a breakthrough compared with the previous generation, but it is still too early to make a revolutionary full screen with a screen ratio of 100%. Don’t believe me; listen to the editor for your analysis.

First of all, we must be clear about the obstacles we need to overcome in order to make a true full-screen product. On the face of it, we need a screen all over the front of the phone, so we need to “hide” the various sensors. At the most basic level, we need to hide the Home button (front fingerprint recognition button), light sensor, distance sensor, earpiece, and front camera. If we go one step further, maybe we have to solve more advanced sensors such as iris recognition. So, how do we do it?

  Fingerprint recognition

Hiding the physical front fingerprint recognition button can be said to be very simple, but it can also be said to be very difficult. Why is it so simple? Because if you can’t do pre-fingerprint recognition, you can do direct post-fingerprint recognition. After years of development of smart phones, the experience of post-mounted fingerprint recognition is not inferior to that of front-mounted fingerprint recognition. Therefore, the use of post-mounted fingerprint recognition is undoubtedly a simple and trouble-free solution.

However, using the post-mounted fingerprint recognition directly is undoubtedly a bit of “evasion”. So, is there a way to achieve front-facing fingerprint recognition under the condition of ensuring a full screen? The answer is yes, that is, the optical fingerprint recognition of the current fire.

The reason why optical fingerprint recognition is used instead of the currently popular capacitive fingerprint recognition is that the penetration ability of capacitive fingerprint recognition is poor and cannot meet actual needs. However, the “flash in the pan” ultrasonic fingerprint recognition is not satisfactory in terms of recognition accuracy and accuracy due to its immature industrial chain.

Even optical fingerprint recognition can be divided into two schemes at present: under the display and in the display. Judging from the order of technological development, UnderDisplay will be the choice that mobile phone manufacturers can use earlier. UnderDisplay is a solution that puts the fingerprint recognition sensor under the screen. InDisplay is a solution to embed fingerprint recognition sensors into the screen. To be clear, UnderDisplay is a transitional solution, while InDisplay is the ultimate solution.

Whether it is under the display or in the display, it must cooperate with the OLED screen. Due to the self-luminous characteristics of the OLED screen, a certain interval can be left between each pixel to ensure light transmission (optical fingerprint recognition relies on light reflection). But we know that the higher the screen resolution (PPI), the smaller the spacing between pixels. Ensuring fingerprints can be accurately identified without error is a big problem.

Here we can also boldly guess that the optical recognition area of the new iPhone will probably be made into a special touch area similar to the TouchBar. The PPI of this area is different from the PPI of the main screen, so as to ensure the normal operation of fingerprint recognition. As for the function, please refer to the auxiliary screen of the HTC U Ultra.

light sensor

After solving the fingerprint recognition, our next goal is the light sensor. In fact, there are currently devices on the market that “hide” the light sensor, such as the iPad Pro. However, this type of hiding mostly relies on special coatings to hide the light sensor. For example, the Smartisan mobile phone integrates the light sensor and the earpiece, although it also makes the front simple. But make no mistake, none of this is really hidden.

At present, there is only one device solution on the market that we can agree on, and that is the Apple Watch.

Few people may have paid attention to the light sensor problem with the Apple Watch. In fact, the Apple Watch’s light sensor is hidden under the screen. According to Apple’s official statement, this sensor is “called a solar cell amb sensor” (itself a solar cell material). Since the Apple Watch uses an OLED screen, light can pass through the screen. The sensor senses the external light intensity by detecting the current intensity generated by the light shining on it, so as to adjust.

Arguably, this is the real solution to hiding the light sensor. However, this technology is currently exclusive to Apple, so we can expect to see it in the new iPhone. But what about other brands? It may be a long wait.

  distance sensor

The distance sensor is also called the displacement sensor. The distance sensor is generally arranged on both sides of the handset for easy access. When the user answers or makes a call, the mobile phone is close to the head, and the distance sensor can measure the distance. When the distance reaches a certain level, the notification screen will be turned off, and it will be turned on again when the mobile phone is removed. It should be pointed out that most distance sensors work by emitting infrared light. Therefore, we generally call it an infrared distance sensor.

Xiaomi MIX offers a solution to hide the distance sensor. Mi MIX uses an ultrasonic distance measuring system to replace the traditional infrared distance sensor. In fact, the ultrasonic ranging system is not such a tall thing. The reversing radar we are usually familiar with is ultrasonic ranging. Using the ultrasonic distance measuring system, components can be placed inside the fuselage without opening holes. The only downside is the poor penetration of ultrasonic waves. At present, there is a large attenuation when it directly penetrates the screen. Therefore, how to solve this problem is the next step for mobile phone manufacturers to think about.


As for the earpiece, Xiaomi MIX provided a brand-new ceramic acoustic system as an alternative. The traditional earpiece directly converts the electrical signal into mechanical energy through the drive unit, which then drives the diaphragm to vibrate to produce sound. The Mi MIX uses a brand-new piezoelectric ceramic system, which drives the entire middle frame to resonate through the drive unit to produce sound. To put it simply, Mi MIX uses the middle frame of the mobile phone as a diaphragm, thus removing the traditional earpiece.

The solution of Xiaomi MIX

This solution seems very ingenious, but there are still some problems, such as the sound quality of mobile phones. The most important point is that since the mobile phone itself emits sound from the middle frame, the mobile phone is actually in an external state. In a quiet environment, the voice of the conversation will inevitably be heard by others. So, is there a better solution?

Sony offered a possibly better solution. However, this solution is currently applied to TVs, not mobile phones.

At the CES 2017 exhibition at the beginning of the year, Sony released a brand new OLED TV, the A1E. The biggest highlight of this TV is that it does not use traditional speakers but instead vibrates through the screen itself. The vibration unit inside the general TV drives the OLED screen to produce sound. The great thing about this solution is that the screen can transmit sound in a directional way. This solves the external problem to a large extent. Of course, there are other advantages to using the screen itself to produce sound, such as making the sound and picture performances seamless and more expressive when watching a video.

So, the OLED screen is really a good thing.

  Front Camera

After solving the problems with the above sensors, we finally encountered the biggest problem: the front camera. Sorry, I racked my brains and couldn’t think of any way to hide the front camera under the screen.

In fact, even if it is as strong as Apple, there may not be any way to hide the front camera on the premise of a full screen.

But the ancient wisdom of the Chinese people tells us that when the problem cannot be solved head-on, it is also possible to save the country with curves.

We can learn how to hide the front camera from the rear fingerprint recognition. Specifically, we can “transform” the rear camera of the mobile phone into a front camera through a mechanical device. When needed, flip the rear camera to get the front camera. Similar processing methods are not only convenient, but they also improve the quality of photos.

The only problem is that this solution will definitely destroy the integrity of the whole machine (and may increase the thickness of the phone body). So, this may be a trade-off about aesthetics: whether to choose a full screen or choose the integrity of the back of the fuselage.


Although we have talked about many technologies, everyone must be clear that it may be a long time before we can see products that can be combined and mass-produced with the above technologies. A single technology may not be difficult to implement, but integrating many technologies will increase the difficulty by several orders of magnitude. Fortunately, the foundation of technology has been laid, and the future is still worth looking forward to. Perhaps we won’t be able to see a satisfactory new iPhone in the fall. But in the future, we will definitely see the ideal full-screen product.


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