Over the past few years smartphone makers have declared war on bezels. The black borders that surround displays have gotten smaller… and phone makers have found new places for the fingerprint sensors and cameras that used to hang out in those borders.
But it looks like one solution is on its way out.
Pop-up selfie cameras seem to have lost the war to notches and hole punches.
In the early days of the war on bezels, Essential released the first phone with a notch in the display. Just about every phone maker eventually followed suit once it became clear that Apple was going to bring a notch-style display to its iPhones.
A few companies experimented with alternatives — including pop-up selfie cameras that only appeared when you were using them, or slider-style phone where the whole screen moved down to reveal a more complex camera system. Asus even introduced a phone with a rear camera that could flip around to point forward, letting you use the same camera for selfies or video calls as you did for snapping any other photo.
And now… it looks like the time for pop-up and slider cameras may be passing.
A growing number of phone makers are choosing hole-punch cameras as an alternative. And as Android Authority notes, it looks like some companies that used pop-up cameras for last year’s flagships are moving to hole-punch designs this year.
It’s not entirely clear whether the industry is moving away from pop-up cameras because of supply or demand issues. here were clearly some items in both the pro and con columns for these phones:
- There’s no obstruction in the display.
- The camera system can be as large as it needs to be.
- Privacy-minded users don’t need to cover the camera with a sticker, because it can’t record any visuals when it’s stuffed inside the phone.
- Mechanical designs with moving parts could be an additional point of failure for smartphones.
- Pop-up and slider mechanisms take up space that could be used for other components such as battery capacity.
Notches and hole-punches take up less space room inside a phone… but they also put a hole in the display which can cause problems with apps that aren’t designed to wrap around these obstructions. Some phones let you create virtual bezels to hide the camera when using those apps… which makes me wonder if some folks wouldn’t still just prefer phones with bezels above and below the screen.
So what would you rather have? A phone with a bezel, a hole in the display, a slider/pop-up camera, or something else?
Last time I asked this question (about a year and a half ago), more than half of the folks who responded to a poll said they’d rather just have phones with bezels or phones with no cameras at all than phones with sliders/notches/holes.
I wonder if things have changed — so what do you think now?