As an HTC user, one thing I’ve never had to worry about are notches. But now with the “hole punch” being the next screen/camera craze seemingly about to storm the smartphone market, I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that my next smartphone might include an ugly black spot on the screen.
But why are we being forced to sacrifice screen real estate for notches or the aptly-named hole-punch camera cutout? Is this simply a design trend that will fade away as quickly as it showed up or are the notch and punch-hole here to stay?
I mean there are even seriously viable alternatives emerging such as the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 with their sliding phone throwback and the pop-up cameras of the Oppo Find X to name but two both adding functionality while maintaining full-screen real estate. Personally pop-up and sliding cameras aren’t for me, I’m not sure I like the added possibility of mechanical failure. But at least they are trying, right?
Notches flew on to our screens in August of 2017 with the introduction of Sharp’s Aquos S2 overshadowed swiftly by the Essential PH1, then followed by countless other manufacturers. Fast forward just over a year and we see the internet recoiling in horror when the sheer size of the Pixel 3’s notch was revealed. I can’t help wonder if this has sparked some kind of retreat? Boardroom meeting across the globe discussing how they’d break up our full-screen experience over the next 18 months of smartphone releases. “I know let’s just punch a hole out the screen” – Le sigh. Let’s not even mention LG’s patent for an oval cutout.
This still leaves me asking the question though: why? Notches are ugly. Dead space is ugly. Are my dreams of true edge-to-edge screens really that crazy? Any way you cut it, the notch and the punch-hole aren’t really a step forward in my book.
It can certainly be argued that the hole is aesthetically not that bad — but as consumers, we’re constantly being asked to compromise screen space for dead space. I’d rather have a modest bezel that houses the cameras, speakers and fingerprint sensors (That’s right I think rear fingerprint sensors are useless too) rather than see my handsets getting more and more erm edge to edge “glassy”?
Yesterday’s unveiling of the Samsung Galaxy A8s and Honor View 20 were just the beginning. Lenovo’s Z5S has already received certification by the TENAA in China and then there’s the upcoming Huawei Nova 4 is expected to be the first Huawei-branded phone to feature the hole-punch camera and is likely to be introduced on 17th December 2018.
Needless to say, I like display notches and holes as much as I’d like to see a cluster of dead pixels.
I’m merely opening up a conversation here, manufacturers are producing the units, consumers are buying them. However, I see opinions to the contrary all across social media. Do people really like notches and cutouts are much as we a led to believe? All i know is the punch-hole is just as bad as the notch and I’m almost dreading what might be coming next unless of course, it’s a return to nice sturdy bezels and aluminum bodies.
Those who oppose the smartphone notch have a new adversary to deal with — the double-notch of the upcoming Sharp AQUOS R2 compact. That’s right, the phone will feature a small notch on the top for its front-facing camera and a larger notch on the bottom of the display for what appears to be a fingerprint sensor.
The product demo video shows that the fingerprint sensor also doubles as a trackpad which will allow users to scroll through content without smudging up their display with their greasy fingers, something that we have not seen on Android phones in quite some time. While we have to give Sharp some credit for creativity, we’re not sure why Sharp thinks that a double-notch is the way to go when in-display fingerprint sensors are now readily available.
As for the specs of the Sharp AQUOS R2 compact, the device is expected to feature a 5.2-inch Full HD+ (2,280 x 1,080 pixels) with Corning Gorilla Glass 3, a Snapdragon 845, 4GB of LPDDR4X RAM, 64GB of storage, microSD card slot, 22.6MP rear camera with LED Flash, f/1.9 aperture, OIS, 8MP front-facing camera, IP68 dust and water resistance, a front-facing fingerprint sensor (obviously), and a 2,500mAh battery with fast charging.
Sharp is planning to sell the AQUOS R2 compact in Smoke Green, Deep White and Pure Black across Japan and a few other select markets starting in mid-January.
Yesterday’s unveiling of the Lenovo Z5 Pro may have passed under your radar, but it signifies something quite important — the death of the smartphone display notch. While the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 and Honor Magic 2 both feature a similar slider design which allows the front-facing camera and sensors to be hidden below the display, the Z5 Pro is the first sub-$300 smartphone to do so.
When the iPhone X made its debut, Android fanboys were among the first to criticize Apple for the massive notch which dominated the top of the display. While the size of the notch was justified due to the number of sensors that it housed, it definitely wasn’t pretty and the extra screen real estate offered by the space on both sides of the notch was negligible.
But to the dismay of many, most Android smartphone manufacturers jumped head first into the notch arena, delivering dozens of mid-range and flagship smartphone with notches at the top of their displays. Shockingly, the smartphone with the most offensive notch is actually Google’s own Pixel 3 XL which features an obnoxiously tall notch for no apparent reason. With the exception of the OnePlus 6T, I’m sure we can all agree that notches don’t look good. But they do have one redeeming quality — offering a high screen-to-body ratio, fitting a larger display into a device with a smaller footprint.
Fortunately, smartphone manufacturers appear to have come to their senses. A few months back, the Oppo Find X and Vivo NEX introduced mechanical pop-up front-facing cameras to get rid of the notch, but the new slider designs from Lenovo, Xiaomi and Honor are a lot more practical and cheaper to build.
The Lenovo Z5 Pro is equipped with a Snapdragon 710 SoC, 4 or 6GB of RAM, 64 or 128GB of storage, a notchless 6.39-inch display with a resolution of 2,340 x 1,080 and a 95.06 percent screen-to-body ratio. The sliding display hides the earpiece, proximity sensor, and dual-sensor 16MP+8MP infrared front-facing camera setup and you also get a 16MP+24MP dual-sensor camera on the back of the phone. Lenovo also crammed in a 3,350mAh battery and included an in-display fingerprint sensor. Not bad for 1,998 yuan or roughly $288.
There’s no guarantee that all manufacturers will stop copying Apple and ditch the notch. But now that we have five smartphone manufacturers looking at alternative ways to deliver full-screen displays, the notch will hopefully go down as a short-lived fad that we can hopefully erase from our consciousness.
Update 1: 2018/10/29 10:18am PDT
Google just reached out to let us know that not only is the company aware of this highly anomalous behavior, but that a fix should be “coming soon.” If you
The notch on the Pixel 3 XL is probably one of the most derided smartphone features in history, or, judging by our comments section, the worst thing to ever happen in the history of the universe. Read More[Update: Fix coming] Hilarious Pixel 3 XL bug adds a second notch to the side of the screen was written by the awesome team at Android Police.