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Honor shares the secrets behind its new in-screen camera – CNET

The in-screen camera on the upcoming View 20 will mean an almost full-screen experience without having to resort to a notch.

Aloysius Low/CNET

Huawei sub-brand Honor's upcoming flagship phone, the Honor View 20, will come loaded with impressive new technology.

It will be the first phone to sport a 48-megapixel rear camera using Sony's newest IMX586 sensor. It will also house an in-screen camera and a nifty feature that combines 4G data and Wi-Fi networks together for faster downloads.

The View 20 is set to debut in China on Dec. 26 before the rest of the world, and will announce its global launch Jan. 22 next year in Paris.

The coolest and most noticeable feature in the new View 20 is the in-screen camera, already leaked to feature in upcoming Huawei Nova 4. Instead of using a notch or slide-out or pop-up mechanical cameras, the camera is now located inside the screen, giving you a full-screen experience at the cost of just a tiny area on the display instead.

To achieve this, Honor didn't just cut out a hole in the display — instead it makes part of the display transparent, allowing the hole to stay smaller — just 4.5 millimetres, compared with Samsung's in-screen camera solution, which, according to Honor, cuts a hole in the display and takes up slightly more space at 6mm.

And while a mere 1.5mm doesn't sound like a lot, it does represent a bigger gap on the display, which can distract from the full-screen experience. Honor says at 4.5mm, it uses less than 50 percent surface area compared to Samsung's solution.

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The shape of the phone is hidden behind a cover, as Honor isn't ready to reveal details of its upcoming phone just yet.

Aloysius Low/CNET

To get the in-screen camera to work well also required other engineering tricks, such as something the company calls a "5-axis ring dispersion," which acts as a seal around the transparent area to prevent light from the display spoiling the image shot. The lens of the in-screen camera is also "special", required to be small enough to fit.

Honor had to treat the 18 layers of the screen carefully to embed the in-screen camera. Aligning the camera and the sensor below the display also requires delicate precision — Honor said that precision is within 0.1mm, adding that it has five patents for the in-screen camera.

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A demonstration of how Honor's in-screen camera works with the layers of the display.

Aloysius Low/CNET

As for the rear camera, the View 20 will be the first in the world to use Sony's IMX586 48-megapixel sensor. It won't be the only one though, Xiaomi has already teased a similar feature on its upcoming phone.

The new camera will feature a couple of cool tricks, such as using pixel binning for clearer images by combining 4 pixels into one, resulting in a 12-megapixel image. The phone will be powered by Honor's Kirin 980 chip, which has two image signal processors (ISP) and uses its dual neural processing units (NPU) to get its onboard AI to help you take better shots. The IMX586 sensor will also feature hardware HDR support, so it doesn't need software to achieve that.

Lastly, the View 20 will feature Link Turbo, which combines the 4G and Wi-Fi networks on your phone for faster downloads, the phone figuring out which applications work better with Wi-Fi or 4G. Games may tap 4G for lower latency while using Wi-Fi to download in-game content.

Honor said that combining both 4G and Wi-Fi allows for lower jitter as well — jitter is the term for when data packets are sent more slowly or inconsistently, resulting in lag. Honor added that 4G's jitter rate is 0.7 percent, while Wi-Fi is at 2 percent, and combining both would result in just 0.14 percent. Downloads would also get a boost: You'll be able to download at 90 percent of the combined max speed, allowing for smoother streaming of videos.

Huawei Nova