Phone makers are coming up with increasingly ridiculous ways to hide their cameras

The Oppo Reno2.
The Oppo Reno2.
Image: Quartz/Mike Murphy
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

In the ever-continuing quest to dedicate as much of the smartphone’s surface to screen as possible, phone manufacturers have come up with some pretty novel solutions in recent years.

First, we had notches cut around the top of screens, where cameras, sensors, and speakers were housed, like in Apple’s iPhone X and its many, many copycats. Then there were companies like Vivo and OnePlus trying to replace all that tech at the top of a phone screen with something that looked like a tiny periscope, where the front-facing camera emerged from the top of the devices when needed:

Oppo, the sister company to Chinese brands Vivo and OnePlus, took things even farther by having the entire back of the phone shift up to reveal cameras and sensors on last year’s Find X phone.

Now Oppo has returned with a solution that’s possibly more ridiculous than its last attempt. Earlier this year, it released the new Reno line of phones, which may or may not be named after the second-most famous city in Nevada, and has now already come out with a second version, the Reno2. (Oppo and Vivo’s phones are some of the most popular in India, along with many other Asian nations. OnePlus has also been building up steam in Europe, and started making a push into the US in recent years.)

The Reno2 looks like most other smartphones on the market: It’s a large black rectangle with probably more cameras on it than anyone needs. But it, like its predecessor released in April, has a bizarre way of unfurling the front-facing camera. Instead of the tiny periscopes it and its sister companies have used, the Reno2’s camera emerges out on a sort of triangular sliver:

It’s not clear whether this is a better or worse solution than previous attempts to make an all-screen smartphone. The little wedge, like a tiny piece of industrial cheese, seems slightly more sturdy than the periscope approaches out there, if only because it’s a little bigger. It’ll definitely turn a few heads.

Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer, recently took a completely different strategy for its newest devices. Instead of trying to hide the cameras, it decided to punch out tiny holes in its displays, trying to ensure that the camera took up the smallest amount of space possible on the front of the phone. The black dots at the top of the screens can be rather distracting, like on the new Galaxy Note10+:

The Galaxy Note 10
The Galaxy Note 10.
Image: Samsung

But probably not as distracting as a black slice of pizza emerging from the top of your phone.

Beyond the comical camera cutout, the Reno2 is an impressive device. It features four rear cameras (including a massive 48-megapixel main camera) that can produce something close to a five-times zoom, a large 4,000 mAh battery, 8 GB of memory, and up to 256 GB of storage. The device, which launched in India last week, is on sale for Rs 36,990 (roughly $513).