Essential may have been the first company to unveil a smartphone that’s nearly all screen on three sides… but which makes up for the lack of a top bezel by leaving a cut-out for the camera. But rumor has it that Apple plans to take a similar approach for at least one of its upcoming iPhones. And now Sharp is following suit.

The new Sharp Aquos S2 is a smartphone with a bottom bezel large enough for a home button with an embedded fingerprint sensor. But the side and top bezels are super-slim, and there’a an Essential Phone-like cut-out for the front-facing camera at the top.

It looks like we have a trend.

As for Sharp’s new phone, it’s making its debut in China, and it’s unclear if you’ll be able to buy the phone in the US or Europe anytime soon. But Sharp has been making slim-bezeled phones for longer than just about any other phone maker, and the company brought its first Aquos Crystal smartphone to the US in 2014, so there is a possibility the new model could get a global launch.

The Aquos S2 features a 5.5 inch, 2040 x 1080 pixel display, a dual camera system on the back with 12MP and 8MP sensors, an 8MP front-facing camera, a 3,020 mAh battery, and the entry-level model features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor (making it the first phone to feature that chip) along with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

A higher-end model with 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a Snapdragon 660 processor is also coming later this year.

So that’s two phones that are confirmed to feature camera cut-outs: the Essential PH-1 and the Sharp Aquos S2.

Essential Phone

Apple hasn’t confirmed that it’s got an all-screen iPhone with a camera cut-out on the way, but pictures of the unannounced phone keep leaking. The latest leak comes from Evan Blass, who posted an image last night showing an iPhone 8 in a protective case. While the case covers the phone’s sides, you can get a pretty good look at the display, where there’s clearly a cut-out for the display, ambient light sensor, and speaker at the top.

It remains to be seen how iOS and iPhone apps will adapt to the unusual shape formed by the cut-out section.

Update: And now we have what are allegedly some of the first real-world photos of the phone. They sure look like the leaked renders, at least:


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14 replies on “Bezel-free phones with camera cut-outs are now a thing (thanks to Sharp, Essential, Apple… probably)”

  1. Xiaomi bows and says you are welcome world. Another in the long line of Mi MIX bandwagoners.

  2. I have a tough enough time avoiding unintended touch screen input on phones with “normal” bezels on the sides.

    I also dislike the camera cutout. Here’s a better idea for making use of the blank space on either side of the camera at the top of a phone…

    You know those OLED TouchBar things on MacBook Pro keyboards that replace the function keys? These phones could have two small OLED touch bars on either side of the camera. That way the screen could have a normal shape. The touch bars could be used as the top notification bar area on Android and iOS.

    1. Question. Have you ever tried one? No? Then you should know there’s a thing called palm rejection. Sure it sucks on the Samsung bezel less phone or the LG one but the original Xiaomi one is very good. No accidental touches. You could have your whole palm pressed against the screen and it won’t do anything.

  3. The camera cut-out aesthetics FAIL is so obvious. They should just sell a mini selfie cam as an accessory for narcissists.

  4. I hope this fad passes quickly. I’d much rather have a slightly smaller rectangular display than a slightly larger display with a cutout. I really don’t understand the bezel hate. It does not bother me in the least to have them. I feel like this is whole (broader) issue is a “jump on the bandwagon” situation.

    1. Exactly, thank you!

      And while we’re at it, we shouldn’t do weird aspect ratios like 19.5:9 or something either.
      16:9 is the most used aspect ratios for videos, and Apps. So lets stick to it.
      Make the shaving of bezels actually give a real world advantage = smaller phone.

      Having a phone with 5.8″ display that’s a weird aspect ratio actually makes the screen smaller than a 16:9 in the width, which is very important, and it makes the phone annoyingly long (notification shade!) so that it becomes less durable and more bendable in your pocket. Especially annoying if that extra screen space is wasted on letterboxing.

      What we need is something like a TCL Idol 3/Nexus 5X but with slim bezels on all sides.
      Just include dual speakers on the bezels, as well as the ambient sensors, notifications led, and front cameras.

    2. I hated how big bezels were like 7 years ago, back before I saw a decent front facing speaker on a phone and when fingerprint sensors were very rare (Acer/eten actually had one, and it did navigation duties too, but no one followed their lead). Now both are common and work great and it’s the worst possible moment to attack the bezel. So of course, the bezel is now under relentless attack.

    3. People want both a bigger screen and a smaller phone. Or at least without the phone getting bigger. For example my phone’s display is much larger than the iPhone 7+ display, but my phone is much smaller. Because of Apple’s huge bezels

      1. …maybe some people. I personally would rather have a more durable phone with a rectangular display with some bezels and a slightly smaller display. Bezeless phones are less durable and pointless to people who use good cases. The case on my current phone has a 1/8″ raised rim that runs around the edge, which is exactly the same size as the bezels on the sides. If my phone were like the phone in the picture, not only would my case cover up edges of the screen but the cut out would annoy the **** out of me, especially when watching videos. Without some bezel, I’m not sure how they could make a case with that (really important to me) raised rim while gripping the phone and not overlapping the screen. As far as the size of phones, once phones got above 4.5″ inches, I had to start using 2 hands, so the tenths of a inch shaved by going bezeless is meaningless to me.
        But to each his own I suppose. If those things I mentioned aren’t a concern for you, then the bezeless phone might be for you. Android manufacturers aren’t shy about making phones in all different shapes and sizes so there will likely be phones who prefer bezels and those who prefer sans bezel. I still expect this to be a fad. It’s the new gimmick and no manufacturer wants to be left out. I expect it to last a year or two. After that, there will still be a few bezeless phones, but most will go back to a traditional design.

  5. These all remind me of the flat tire.
    It would irritate the crap out of me to have something in the viewing area like that.

  6. What Sharp does is just dumb. With that cutout they increase costs a great deal and lower usability for the display for no reason at all. They have a large lower bezel or they could have used a pop up front cam but they got to be incompetent and do it this way.

    The iphone cut out is far less disruptive for the user and necessary because they have no lower bezel and it needs to host a wide range of sensors that are in use all the time.

    What Sharp and Essential are doing is just silly, they do it for the sake of doing it and they make their devices worse while increasing costs.

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