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Love it or Hate it | What’s the Purpose of the Infamous ‘Notch’?

I guess if you are reading this on an iPhone X you are used to the notch by now. But for the rest of us, the notch is probably pretty annoying.

 

So, what exactly is the point of The Notch?

Which is either suddenly in vogue, or a huge source of complaint depending on your opinion.

Is Apple just trying to tell us all, “ Yea, we’re Apple, and we can do whatever we want with our gadgets! Just like we do with our headphone jacks.”

Well, not exactly.

In fact, the lesser known Essential phone was actually the first smartphone to feature a notch for its front-facing camera. Though it is quite a bit smaller than the one you find in the iPhone X.

 

Released just two months before the iPhone X, the Essential phone was our first look at how a phone designer might try to fill as much of the front end of the device as possible with actual screen instead of bezels

 

And although they figured out how to bury a fingerprint sensor under the display, the industry hasn’t yet figured out how to do it with a front facing camera.

Which is now a critical feature in all modern smartphones due to its utilization of popular apps and of course our narcissistic need for on-demand selfies.

 

Of course, many phone makers simply hide the camera and other phone components inside of the bezel. But Essential went with the notch approach because the Android OS fills the top notification bar from the left and right.

 

So, the idea was that the camera in the middle wouldn’t block anything super important.

They even built in an option that allows the user to choose whether or not to hide the notch in landscape mode by turning the notch side of the screen into a black bar that will block it.

Of course, Apple’s notch is significantly larger, leaving only two small lobes of screen space at the phone’s corners.

 

What does Apple’s notch do?

A big part of the rationale for this is that the iPhone X’ face ID recognition system needs additional equipment. Such as an IR camera and a dot projector that can’t also, YET, be buried under the screen.

So to be fair, the iPhone X is sporting a pretty cool piece of tech that the Essential phone and other Android devices don’t yet have.

And iOS also does notification icons across the top of the screen like Android does. Making the notches a little easier to get away with.

 

Also, Apple does mention safe areas in app development to prevent content from being obscured by the notch. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the notch should be immune from criticism.

 

With many users noting that it seems like an unnecessary attempt at a ‘bezeless phone’ before the technology is completely caught up.

Especially as we’re now seeing phones that are bezeless on three sides. A more appealing alternative to the awkward notch.

At least for some.

Because awkwardness is in the eye of the beholder. Right?

And there has been speculation that Apple is intentionally using the bezel as a signature look, just like the scroll wheel of the iPod.

And anytime Apple does that, other companies including OnePlus and Asusfollowed suit. And both have already confirmed that they will be using notches in upcoming phones.

With one Asus executive even going so far as to saying “It’s what the people want.”

So whether you love or hate Apple for “starting this trend”, there is a good chance we will see notches become more common until solutions for hiding phone components beneath the display become wide-spread.

In fact, Android ‘P’ has features specifically to developers who want to incorporate notches to app design.

So if you were hoping that the phone industry will relent and suddenly decide that notches were a bad idea, you might want to dial your hopes back a “Notch”