Over the past few years we’ve seen smartphone bezels get thinner and thinner, until they’ve almost started to disappear altogether.

But that’s led to some odd design choices. Xiaomi put a muffled speaker below the screen of the Mi Mix. Samsung moved its fingerprint sensor to the back of the phone on the Galaxy S8 (but not to the same place you’d find most rear fingerprint scanners). And Essential? The company made an odd cut-out in a nearly all-screen phone to make room for a camera.

Another side effect of big bezels? Phone screens are getting bigger… even though phone bodies are not.

There’s certainly something appealing about the idea that the front of your phone is nothing but display. But historically the front of a phone has also had to make room for a bunch of other things including buttons, speakers, cameras, proximity sensors, and ambient light sensors. Eliminating the bezel makes it tough to include those features in the same way.

Bezels also give you something to hold onto without accidentally triggering actions on your phone’s display. Smart touch rejection software can alleviate that problem… but so can bezels.

Personally I’ve never entirely understood the bezel hate. Sure, there are some phones with bezels that seem unnecessarily large. But I have to wonder if phone makers are starting to overcompensate by offering phones with high screen-to-body ratios at the expense of durability and usability.

And if we are going to move toward a bezel-free (or at least bezel-less) world, maybe instead of keeping phones the same size and cramming bigger screens into the body, someone could try to release a phone with a 5 inch display in a device that’s the size of a 4.5 inch or smaller handset? Some folks actually still like small(ish) phones, after all.

How do you feel about the diminishing bezels on modern smartphones?

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34 replies on “How do you feel about the war on smartphone bezels?”

  1. I’d be fine with no bezel if it didn’t mean that the screen is easier to break…but that’s not the case so far.

  2. I got my first “modern” phone recently which is the Asus Zenphone 3. It’s not a flagship phone by any means but the build quality is pretty nice including all glass surface and pretty slim side bezels.

    Before I got my case I used the phone naked for about a week. It was incredibly hard to use without accidentally touching the screen on the sides. And of course this was a new phone and all glass so I wanted to be sure I was holding it well and didn’t drop it.

    I don’t get the appeal with super slim bezels, at least on the side. Now that I have a case it’s easier to grip, so it’s okay, but I would never want to use this phone without a case because of that.

  3. The bezels on my Galaxy Note 5 were TOO thin on the left and right side. The screen kept registering touches from my hand that was just holding the phone. So the left and right bezel needs to be wide enough to ensure that the screen doesn’t register touches from the hand holding the phone. Also, the wider the bezel the better the bezel protects the screen from breaking when the device is accidentally dropped. Also I’m a big fan of front-facing speakers in the bezel. So I’d rather have bezels wide enough to accommodate two front-facing speakers on opposite sides of the screen. I’d also rather the phone be big enough to accommodate a battery that will definitely last all day (without charging) even after I’ve had the phone for 2 years.

  4. Thin and light are great features. If bezels must go to get there, let them go. They are pretty useless now that bezel buttons are headed towards extinction. I hope they’ll start making more smaller phones: iPhone SE sized and full screen.

    1. I actually dislike phones after a certain thinness; it makes it less secure to hold, and more likely to break. I am in the crowd that would prefer a thicker phone with more battery life. Weight doesn’t really bother me either.

      I have grown accustomed to having a bezel button to turn my phone on (and immediately unlock, since it’s also the fingerprint reader). I would be fine with having it on the rear, but making the power button the single point to wake seems abhorrent to me. They could make it wake via in-screen fingerprint sensors, but I’d rather have intention behind waking my phone and not just handling.

  5. I get the “make them go away” part, but, since without bezzels phones become smaller anyway, can we please stop making tiny 5.5 inch screens? They are useless for web browsing, pdf readig, multimedia….and they also get called “phablets”…as opposed to what, a smartwatch? I hope 6 inch becomes the new standard, or, at least, offer large screen versions of flagships, like the s8/s8+.

    1. Can we not make phones bigger? I have an iPhone 7 Plus (only got the plus cuz of the better battery) with a 5.5 inch display and I already have issues holding it in one hand, especially because I have an Otterbox Defender on it (I’m too clumsy not to have it and don’t care how my phone looks as long as it’s functional). I’m female and have smaller hands that aren’t adapting well to this bigger smartphone thing. Most of the time I can’t take a selfie without using two hands. No, I do not think I should be forced to buy the ridiculously embarrassing selfie stick accessory — I refuse to use one and I’m not carrying it around with me. The amount of times I’ve dropped or almost dropped my phone due to using it one handed is also insane and didn’t happen when I had a 4.5 inch screen; this comes down to a lack of grip on it. So no, let’s not replace 5.5 with 6 for apparent behemoth hand people like you. People with smaller hands already have trouble one handing their phone. You’re the only person who thinks 5.5 is tiny. Bigger versions are fine but let us small handed people continue to barely hold a 5.5 inch one handed instead of find it impossible to hold a 6 inch one handed.

  6. Bezeless is stupid shit design. Want to crack that screen? Go bezeless. Mission impossible to protect it with a case. How you putting a case on that to protect it without the case getting in the way? CNET clearly wrote that their S8 and G5 had cracks in the glass for no apparent reason.

    The problem here is that people are giving an opinion without my experience or knowledge. Like geez, that looks so amazing, it must be good. It’s not like most people commenting here spent $800+ and had the screen crack. In that case maybe the views will be a bit more one sided.

    Bezeless = more fragile. If you have had a cracked screen then you know. Less bezel means more likely to crack. That is reason enough to stop the madness.

    Trends can be idiotic. Nerds locked in a lab thinking they know what people want or what’s best for them. Just because somebody made it doesn’t make it an intelligent design. Maybe you, the consumer is the sucker here. Well, cracked screens and hassles for you all is my wish.Then you can rant about the money you spent on a device that is fit for a china shop.

  7. The main thing about today’s smartphone’s screens is the ease for shattering. Every smartphone should include some kind of solid shaterproof technology, like Motorola’s X and Z force. It can be done, it is the single most frustrating aspect of smartphone’s world when it falls down and shatters its screen. It will happen. IT is just like asteroids hitting earth … it will happen, just a question of time.

  8. I pretty much don’t care about this “war”, it comes off to me as something to brag about to make up for the lack of innovation.

  9. I want enough bezel for 2 stereo speakers (good, powerful ones) and a proximity sensor. And nothing else. No selfie camera. Nothing.

  10. I think the war has been won and companies/people are just torturing and committing war crimes against the survivors.

  11. I think a moderate amount of bezel provides a landing place for my hand to minimize false touches. A front bezel that makes room for front facing speakers works for me too. I don’t understand that need for thin OEMs have, sacrificing ergonomics and battery life, either.

  12. I don’t think bezels need to get much smaller, but I would like to see the phones get thicker and have twice the battery capacity.
    Yeah, I know, that will never happen.

    1. You can kinda get that with a battery case. I’ve been considering getting a Nexpaq case to basically do just that, plus the ability to add extra cameras/storage/whatever.

  13. I used to hate bezels, when they served no purpose. Now I have front-facing speakers and a forward-facing fingerprint sensor that’s always accessible, and I couldn’t care less how chic the new hotness is. Form follows function.

  14. I had a Sharp Aquos Crystal as my daily phone for nearly 2 years. I loved having a 5″ phone in a smaller form factor. The screen itself acted as an earpiece when making phone calls. It worked surprisingly well (especially considering I suffer from tinnitus). Accidental touches happened only 2-3 times during the first week or so and never after that.

    Watching videos on it was very immersive in that it went wall-to-wall on the device. Although I’ve since moved on to an iPhone SE, I still use the Sharp as a portable media player.

    I’d like to see R&D continue to make advances in making a smartphone that is truly bezel-less on all 4 sides.

  15. I am hoping this leads to 7″ phones… I love my Sharp Aquos Crystal because it is a 5″ phone I can use one-handed

  16. I do like the trend in laptops to go with smaller bezels – I don’t have to hold the screen to use the device. However, in smaller, handheld devices, a bezel can be useful. I would actually like my Kindle to have a *larger* bezel to allow me to more easily read one handed in bed.

  17. I think the technology will be adapted to accommodate zero bezel size. It’s just a matter of time. We always march toward the smallest possible functionality including I/O. Maximizing I/O for the device size means all screen and no bezel. They’ll come up with the tech to make it happen just like they came up with the tech to make the smart phone happen in the first place.
    Apple or somebody will probably try to sue everyone else claiming they invented the idea but the idea was/is inevitable just as the smart phone itself was which Apple has already tried to sue everyone over.

    1. How would you hold a device that’s all input?

      I think the big jump in smartphone tech was cheaper and better capacitive touchscreens, instead of the older resistive ones. I don’t think this is an issue of tech, but rather a design issue.

      1. I like that both sides of the discussion are being downvoted. If only someone would explain why…

  18. I agree with others that side bezels help avoid accidental touches/activations on the screen, ESPECIALLY when you want to use it one-handed. Most of the time I see people use these bezel-less phones it is with one hand to gingerly hold the sides and the other to make actual contact.
    I was hoping that HTC’s Edge Sense would help with this based on the leaked videos (the one where you could scroll through a list of apps by sliding your finger and choosing by squeezing). At least the width reduction which accompanies the tattoo change in the g6 and s8 should help to some degree.

  19. I don’t like the left and right borders to be bezel-less. It makes gripping the phone too difficult to do without accidentally hitting things on the screen.

  20. As it is, I already have enough problems with accidental touches. I was okay with some bezel reduction, but I’m not convinced these newer phones with minimal top and side bezels are the right kind of progress, but I’m willing to see how it goes. I’ve had to accept that trends with mobile devices almost always seem to be the opposite of what I want to see. It seems if they keep reducing features and make the phones “prettier” people buy them(and cases to hide their “pretty” phones).

  21. They need to die! Unless manufacturers are putting front speakers on the phone they need to trim the bezels! Once fingerprint scanners can be put under the screen we won’t have the issue with it being on the back.

    1. I had one phone with a front speaker and it was much easier to hear directions when used for navigation. I would give up screen space for a larger bezel if it came with a front facing speaker.

    2. No need for that. The Xperia had the fingerprint scanner on the power button. It’s on the right side where the thumb rests holding the phone.

      1. Assuming you hold your phone with your right hand. I’m right-handed and I usually have my phone in the left.

  22. Honestly, my Axon 7 is almost perfect in this regard. The bezel space it has above and below the screen is well used, with pretty good speakers and a camera there. The device fits in hand fairly well in portrait and landscape. I can’t see how removing this space would do anything but make the phone worse. Smartphone makers shouldn’t just do something for the sake of it. Unless removing these bezels is going to make the phone better for day to day use, there are better things they could be pursuing.

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