Skip to main content

Oppo thinks retracting phone cameras are the next big thing

Oppo is planning to end the year on a high note by serving up a generous dash of smartphone innovation. Aside from the rumored foldable, the company just took to Twitter and shared a video of an unreleased phone sporting a retracting rear camera.

To give you some context, over the past couple of years the smartphone industry has given us selfie cameras that pop up from the top edge, and brands were quick to adopt a marketing name for it — pop-up camera. However, Oppo appears to have taken the fundamental concept of a pop-up selfie camera module, turned it 90-degrees, and slapped it on the back of a phone.

Most pop-ups are annoying…

But not our self-developed retractable camera! 😉

Explore more in INNO WORLD on 14/12.#OPPOINNODAY2021 pic.twitter.com/33hgJSw8If

— OPPO (@oppo) December 7, 2021

Will this ever come out?

The Oppo phone in question doesn’t have a name yet. And surprisingly, it has evaded the overly sharp eyes of leak enthusiasts as well. That means it’s most likely a concept phone, but all will be revealed at the company’s Inno Day event on December 14. The retracting camera definitely grabs eyeballs, but it is far from being a novel creation. The idea of moving lens elements has been borrowed from point-and-shoot cameras that were all the rage back in the day, but have since lost their appeal as smartphone cameras got better. However, Samsung copied the formula for its Galaxy S4 Zoom in 2013 when it looked more like a camera than a phone due to the thick profile.

Oppo’s phone, on the other hand, looks as sleek as any other modern premium phone out there, and the moving camera element is quite small. It is unclear if the motorized module houses the primary snapper, or if it plays host to the telephoto camera system. The latter appears to be the case here, and it very much looks like a replacement for folded-lens periscope zoom cameras that one gets on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and other camera-centric phones out there. Oppo’s retracting camera also appears to have some fall detection tech in place. The gyro and accelerometer will identify if the phone is in free fall, automatically pulling the camera module inside to avoid any damage.

The time for retractable cameras may have already passed

The idea is definitely a breath of fresh air, but it is unlikely to catch on. Pop-up cameras were all the rage not too long ago, with almost every brand embracing them except Apple. But they were fragile, definitely not easy on wallets when it came to repairs, and are now a vanishing fad. They did achieve the smartphone industry’s holy grail of a true full-screen experience, but practicality eventually reigned supreme over aesthetics.

Will Oppo’s retracting camera be a hit, or will meet the same fate as its pop-up camera sibling? Only time will tell. Will it make it to a commercially available smartphone? There is no certainty about that either. After all, Oppo made big promises about its rollable phone, but it got stuck in quality assurance hell and never made it into the hands of eager buyers ready to spend a few thousand dollars. And oh, now that everyone is building some metaverse-related thingmajig, Oppo is also showing off a virtual avatar technology at its event next week. Let’s hope it doesn’t meet the same fate as Samsung’s a-little-too-good-looking Sam virtual assistant.

Editors' Recommendations

Nadeem Sarwar
Nadeem is a tech journalist who started reading about cool smartphone tech out of curiosity and soon started writing…
OnePlus has big news for September 25 — but it’s not a folding phone
OnePlus-11-Marble-Odyssey-Edition display view.

Within a span of two days this week, we got the launch dates of new iPhones and Google’s Pixel 8 series phones. Today, OnePlus also made a major announcement, albeit one that has little to do with hardware — or its highly anticipated foldable phone.

It is still a remarkable one, however. OnePlus will release Android 14-based OxygenOS 14 on September 25. That also means the stable build of Android 14 will arrive for supported Google Pixel phones before that date, and likely for some Samsung phones as well.
OnePlus will finally start public testing of Android 14 in the coming days for the OnePlus 11, the OnePlus 11R, and the OnePlus Nord 3. The company has been refining the latest iteration of OxygenOS for the past few weeks as part of a closed beta program. Soon, OnePlus will kickstart the OxygenOS 14 Open Beta program ahead of the stable release. 
However, OnePlus won’t be the only brand soak-testing Android 14 ahead of its wide release later this year. Google has seeded multiple public beta builds of Android 14 over the past few months for its Pixel phones, and Samsung has also started testing One UI 6 based on Android 14 for a select bunch of high-end Galaxy phones.

Read more
Samsung Galaxy S24: 9 things I want to see in the new phone
Galaxy S23 front in hands.

Samsung recently launched the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5, two of its most exciting smartphones of the year. However, it is never too early to anticipate the company's next lineup of smartphones. If Samsung sticks to its previous calendar schedule, we can expect to see the Galaxy S24, S24 Plus, and S24 Ultra announced early in 2024. Although it is not yet known what features and design specs these new phones will include, we have some wishes.

From faster charging speeds and display refresh rates to better cameras, there's a lot Samsung can upgrade with the S24 series. And we're not stopping there. Samsung should also address one of the biggest issues about OLED displays that many people face, plus improve battery life on one model in particular. Here's everything we want to see in the Samsung Galaxy S24 lineup.
Remove the blandness

Read more
This $570 Android phone crushes the iPhone 14 Pro in one big way
Honor 90 display.

I find myself unable to use smartphones at night because they strain my eyes, which in turn causes headaches. If you are anything like me, you probably dislike having a smartphone screen in front of you in conditions when light is dim ot nonexistent. Or worse, you might have developed Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) sensitivity, which can make you feel nauseous when using a phone at night. This is solved by the Honor 90.

I’m privileged to have multiple phones at my disposal, and the Honor 90 has become my go-to phone for nighttime reading and research because of its 3840Hz PWM display. But to understand the solution, we must first understand PWM dimming and its effects on human eyes.
What is PWM dimming, and how does the Honor 90 help?

Read more