Anyone who closely follows the accumulation of rumors about possible new iPhones will have heard news of all kinds about the notch or “notch” of the screen and its possible reduction or total elimination in future generations.
The leaks have been such that some have come to accept that the next version of the iPhone will retain the notch one way or another, but it is likely that its size will be significantly reduced, given a subsequent disappearance.
Seems like the obsessive hatred some have of it isn’t justified by its real impact on user experience. And I won’t be sad to see another kind of notch on the iPhone 13 next September. Here are our reasons.
We do not use the word “iconic”, which is overused and we think it is too strong for this occasion. However, the notch has the less flashy recognition quality, giving the iPhone a format that reminds you of what you’re holding.
Of course, that’s a good thing for Apple, which has a brand to build on, but I think it’s good for owners as well. There’s no point in being shy – the iPhone is different, and when you buy one, you’re paying for the experience and the lifestyle.
Instead of looking at a specific screen and set of specifications, iPhone users perceive the product as a differentiator, which crosses the border and becomes the hallmark of the current product.
This feature was once provided by the home button, a little visual cue in previous generations that was so recognizable that Pictionary players could draw a curved rectangle with a circle at the bottom and their teammates knew it was ‘an iPhone.
Well, the notch that in its day was created out of necessity as Apple needed a place to place the Face ID sensor, over time we saw that it became a similar visual signature at the time. where the iPhone’s home or “home” button died.
A quick look at the ranking of the best smartphones of the year published by PCWorld allows us to check a parade of screens on Android phones without being able to differentiate whether it is one or the other brand.
This gives us an idea of how far Apple has come in this regard compared to the rest of the smartphone makers, providing that sense of identity. And without an identity, phones become just another commodity.
Not so intrusive
We’ve been using notched iPhones since the iPhone XS, so we’ve had more than enough time to completely tire of that telltale little chunk that slipped off the bottom of my screen.
However, we can honestly admit that it never particularly bothered us. It wasn’t like that at first and now it’s not a big deal either.
This may have to do with the approach of Apple and its group of developers. The company’s human interface guidelines, which incidentally look like a quote manual written by Mark Zuckerberg, set strict rules for how applications should perform properly.
In fact, they establish a powerful sense of consistency to the point that they help the human eye filter it out of the information displayed on the screen, preventing the appearance of cut text or non-visible information.
To get a feel for how stealthy the notch really is, we need to compare it to the home indicator at the bottom of the screen. Rather than blending into the background, it changes colors between apps, disappearing and reappearing occasionally, and generally aimed at reminding you that it’s there.
If Apple wants to remove distractions from the screen, it could start by getting rid of the ever-present welcome prompt, or at least making its appearance optional and not sticking around.
What is the alternative to “notch”?
Let’s be clear: the two options we are discussing are not 1) iPhone 13 with notch and 2) iPhone 13 without notch, but identical in every way. Any choice Apple makes about the notch will affect the rest of the design.
Obviously, if you remove the notch, Apple has to find another spot to place the True Depth camera and other front-facing sensors, and none of the options available are particularly appealing.
You can place the camera on a retractable arm like the one we saw on the Oppo Find X, but these moving parts add an additional point of vulnerability for damage or malfunction and are downright inconspicuous.
You could even put it in the bezel, like the iPad Pro, but then that would lead us to see relatively thick bezels of the newer phones.
You can put it in a pinhole like you do with the Samsung galaxy s21, but it’s no less intrusive, and for phones with more than one camera lens, like the Huawei mate 40 pro, it looks more like a pill.
The end goal, of course, is to remove all paraphernalia altogether and hide the selfie camera under the screen, which is what the innovative ZTE Axon 20 5G offers. But that comes with its own set of tradeoffs in reducing photo quality and screen quality.
Looking at the topic more holistically, any major design change like this will have at least some negative consequences. A smartphone is a delicate arrangement of components and compromises, and changing one thing affects everything else.
Rearranging internal components to accommodate an under-screen camera, for example, could mean less room for the battery or new overheating issues.
This would likely mean a price increase and could come at the expense of the new features we need.
So the question is not to remove the notch, otherwise, would it be worth it with the associated drawbacks? At this point in iPhone development, we think the answer is no.