The New Design Language for Smartphones – Is it Top Notch?


    Every generation must be iteratively better and it has been in terms of design for smartphones till now. But a new trend is taking over – the notch. Is it a good thing, or a necessary evil?

    Let’s take a look at the history of notches. First came the Essential Ph-1 which housed only the front camera, then came the iPhone X (you didn’t read it 10, did you?) which housed a variety of sensors for facial recognition. Then came the Asus Zenfone 5, Oppo R15, Vivo X21, Vivo V9, Oppo F7, Doogee V, Ulefone T2 Pro, Leagoo S9, and most recently the Huawei P20 series. These brands have embraced the notch and now even the public favourite, OnePlus is confirmed to adopt the notch. What is it with this design language? Are they just capitalising on the Apple design to make it look more premium or it is here to stay?

    What is a notch?iPhone X notch

    The notch is basically a cutout for the all the sensors you generally have on the top of the phone. This gives you some screen on both sides of the cutout. It houses the facial recognition sensors, front camera, and earpiece usually and condenses them into the centre of the top portion.

    Do we need it?

    Technically if you think about it, in normal use, it gives you more screen by pushing the notification bar further up. Just glance down at your device for a second, is there a decent amount of spae vacant in the middle of your notification bar? If there is, then you can see how the notch gives you more space by eliminating the whole of the top bezel.

    Is there no alternative?

    Yes, there is. Vivo showed off their Apex concept smartphone which had a near 100% screen-to-body ratio at CES this year which had no notch. The proximity sensor has moved under the screen, the ambient light sensor is on the top edge of the phone, and the earpiece is a piezoelectric one like on the first Mi Mix. The front camera is all the rage, which is motorised and pops out of the top edge when selfie mode is triggered. This is a new, raw design which may need to undergo lots of tests to prove its structural integrity.

    Mi Mix 2SThere is also Xiaomi’s approach. All the previous three generations of Mix have had a near bezel-less, futuristic design which had all the sensors and front camera mounted on the minimal chin of the device. Then again, there is always the clean Samsung and LG approach, but let’s not consider that as they both still have a considerable forehead on their devices.

    Why the Hate?iPhone X with all it's clones at MWC

    The hate against the notch is basically because no one did it after Essential, but everyone started ripping it off from the iPhone X (gotcha again). Android users love Android because of its open source nature, customizability and myriad collection of devices. But now the market is getting saturated with all these devices that closely resemble an iPhone and that is what the buyers do not want. This, of course depends on the market. In China, an iPhone clone is more likely to succeed than in USA so there are more of those phones there.

    What this means moving forward..

    The notch is here to stay, hate it or love it. It is going to be used in more devices till they find a way to implement all the sensors in the notch below the display and till then we are going to have to bear with it. If you hate the notch and need a new device, maybe now is the time to show LG some love unless the G7 has a notch too.

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