In an effort to maximize screen space on smartphones, most phone makers have borrowed design elements from the Essential PH-1 and iPhone X and included a cut-out at the top of the screen for cameras and other sensors. The trend has been controversial, to say the least. But with Google adding official support for notches, it’s likely the design is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
That said, not all notches are created equal. Some take up so much space at the top of the display that you have to wonder why a phone maker didn’t just go with a slim bezel. Others make just enough room for a single camera, but still require an extra-thick notification bar that… makes you wonder why the phone maker didn’t just go with a slim bezel.
And then there’s the OPPO F9. The latest mid-range phone from the Chinese company has a “waterdrop screen” with a subtle curve in the top edge that reaches down to wrap around the camera to create one of the least distracting notches I’ve seen to date.
Sure, that cutout is still going to be visible when viewing full-screen videos or other content unless you have black bars on the sides. But the OPPO F9 doesn’t look like a phone where someone cut a piece out of the screen. It looks like a device with a screen with funny looking top bezel that curves a bit in the center. It’s not so deep that you’ll need an unusually large notification tray to hide it. And it’s not so wide that it’ll take away much space that could otherwise be used for notifications.
That said, some folks will probably still hate it because it’ll still look funny when running full screen apps that aren’t optimized to wrap around it.
OPPO already has a phone for bezel-haters: the OPPO Find X has no top bezel at all, because the front-facing camera is hidden away in a section of the phone that slides out only when you want to snap a picture. But that’s a $1000(ish) phone.
The OPPO Find 9 with is waterdrop display is a mid-range phone that will be available in Vietnam and the Philippines this month for about $330 and up.
It has a 6.3 inch, 2,340 x 1080 pixel display with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio, a MediaTek Helio P60 processor, 4GB to 6GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. The phone has a 3,500 mAh battery, a micro USB port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and support for OPPO’s VOOC fast charging technology.
There’s a fingerprint sensor on the back, along with 16MP + 2MP rear cameras and a 25MP front-facing camera.
The smartphone comes in red, blue, or purple color options, and each version has a gradient-style design with the color shifting from one edge of the phone to the other. The color gradient wraps around the phone’s back and edges (making this the first OPPO phone to feature a gradient design on the sides).