A few days after Ice Universe teased an upcoming Vivo smartphone with a curved glass display and a screen-to-body ratio of “over 100%,” Oppo has begun showing images and photos of a phone that appears to have a similar design.
That’s not surprising, since Oppo and Vivo are both subsidiaries of Chinese tech company BBK.
Anyway, Oppo’s “Waterfall Screen” wraps around the sides of of a phone, allowing the screen to extend to the sides of the device. This isn’t a brand new idea — Samsung started offering “Edge” series phones with curved displays way back in 2014. But Oppo’s version stands out for a few reasons.
First, Oppo’s iteration features significantly slimmer top and bottom bezels. And second, Oppo’s waterfall display curves at an 88 percent angle, making the part that wraps around the sides almost perpendicular to the front.
Whether this is useful remains to be seen. Literally.
Sure, the design would allow phones to have physically larger displays and higher screen-to-body ratios. But it’s not like you can view the front, left side, and right side all at once — so I’m not entirely sure that this type of display gives you much more usable space.
One possibility is that Oppo or other phone makers could use the sides for touch-sensitive buttons, eliminating the need for physical power and volume buttons. Buttons could also change depending on the context — if you’re playing a game in landscape mode, for example, the top left and right corners could work as shoulder buttons.
But I’m not sure I’d want to watch videos, look at pictures, or read websites that wrap around the display.
So I guess the utility of waterfall-style screens may depend on how device makers adopt software to take advantage of them. We’ll likely see a number of implementation sin the coming months.
Ice Universe reports Huawei, Vivo, Oppo, and Xiaomi may all be working on devices with similar displays.
Taking borderless smartphone innovation to new heights, we’re thrilled to give you a first look at ‘Waterfall Screen’ technology. 🤯
What do you think the screen-to-body ratio is on this prototype? 😏 pic.twitter.com/99AQKh9ZgH
— OPPO (@oppo) July 29, 2019