Nearly a dozen new Android phones with camera cut-outs in their otherwise nearly full-screen displays debuted at Mobile World Congress last month. Rumor has it LG’s next flagship will also have a camera “notch.” And Google has officially added support for displays with cutouts to Android P.

While the first modern smartphone with a notch was the Essential PH-1, the general consensus is that Android phone makers are taking their design cues from Apple’s iPhone X which attempts to increase screen space by eliminating part of the top bezel.

But I’ve been seeing rumors for a while suggesting that next year’s iPhones won’t have notches. Now another report from Korean site ET News cites “an industry source” who says Apple is killing the notch.

So what does that mean for all the copycats set to hit the market this year?

For better or worse, I suppose they’ll look trendy until the iPhone 11 (or X-2, or whatever it’s called) is released. But I wouldn’t be surprised if this turns out to be a short-term trend.

The iPhone X notch serves two purposes: it allows Apple to fit a complicated Face ID system atop the phone, while at the same time reducing the overall footprint of the top bezel, giving the iPhone X a higher screen-to-body ratio than any previous iPhone.

Most Android phones don’t have a complex series of cameras above the display. They have a single camera, a speaker, and maybe a proximity sensor. Plenty of phone makers have managed to fit those things into slim bezels rather than including a notch.

One of the first slim-bezeled phones had a camera in the bottom bezel, which allowed the top bezel to be nearly nonexistent. And Vivo recently showed off a concept phone that has no top bezel thanks to a pop-out camera that hides away when you don’t need it and emerges only when you do.

In other words, it’s not at all clear that most Android notchphones need a notch. And if the ETNews report is correct, it sounds like Apple has decided it doesn’t need the notch for its upcoming phones either (although it’s not clear how Apple will cram its Face ID 3D camera and laser projector system into its upcoming phones without a notch).

The ETNews report might be wrong. At this point it’s really little more than a rumor. It’s just one that kind of made me laugh when I saw it, since Apple is said to be getting rid of notches just as everyone else is working to add them to their phones.

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19 replies on “If Apple drops the notch in 2019, will Android phone makers follow suit?”

  1. After purchasing the XS Max recently I was quick to return. It very soon became apparent to me that the notch was most likely a short term device concept for apple. I realised that buying a notch phone in 2019 is likely not a wise decision as it will soon look very outdated when apple reveal the 2019 lineup in September. I presume the notch will disappear or shrink significantly leaving correct XS models looking antiquated and glaringly obvious. Previously & With a case on, it was never obvious which iPhone model someone was using and you could comfortably use your IP 6+ in a sea of IP 8+ users and not feel out of place as from front on they appear identical..The notch changes all of that and if it does either shrink or removed then current notch models will forever be identifiable by approximate age & dated-ness of device. IMO, it’s not wise to buy current X/XS models until we know how new 2019 models look. Your expensive new iPhone XS may look severely dated in a few months time.

  2. I think the trend for everyone else adding notches was short lived tbf. It’s apparent to me that even the hole punch has run it’s course also in 2019. One plus, Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi etc have all released some of their 2019 devices with entire display screens. I think the pop up/slider camera system will dominate in 2020. There’s even one without pop up yet still manages to fill the entirety of screen with display. The front camera system being housed within the earpiece

  3. I’m tired of Android manufacturers thinking they need to copy Apple to be successful (eg headphone jack and notch). I buy Android and previously Windows Phone because they’re NOT Apple. There was a time when people considered Android to be a cheap knockoff of iOS which is why I went with Windows Phone for awhile. But now I’m back on Android for obvious reasons and I can’t stand how some manufacturers thing they need to copy everything Apple does. That’s why I’m sticking with Samsung. While they decided to copy Apple’s animoji’s, they at least stick it to Apple with other things like the headphone jack.

  4. I view the notch as being something to keep the height of the phone shorter, and that is not really a spec I care about a great deal. The width is more of a concern for me, but admittedly I don’t like the largest phones. Maybe I’d care more if I did.

  5. It’s a boring and uninspired move from these manufacturers, the notch isn’t a feature worth copying, it also showcases how they’re unable to propose an alternative in order to achieve a full-screen display.

  6. I have the ultimate solution to this entire debate. How about 1 giant bezel-free screen in the front with no camera. Then the back can have a smaller screen with all the cameras you need. The back of the phone can have both the “front/selfie” camera and the “rear” cameras.

      1. **picks up mic**
        Sorry folks we don’t know how he got in here, we’ll upgrade our bouncers in the future.

        That second screen is a pointless design. In fact, if you wanted to selfie, then you don’t necessarily need the second screen… just have the rear-glass mirrornated/reflective. However you can’t FaceTime though.

        You see smartphone design is all about compromises. There’s a few phones that give you function, and there’s many that give you form…however there’s none that give you both. The closest to perfection would be a smartphone designed by me… I can explain but it would make this post very long, let me know if you want me to delve into it.

        1. It’s clear that you’ve never taken selfies before. The screen tells you exactly what the shot is going to look like. You need a screen, not a mirror to see things like the exposure and the exact framing of the shot, and you need instant feedback. A reflective mirror isn’t going to tell you that the lighting is too dark or that the flash on your face is too bright for the shot.

  7. Apple has the designers and money to get rid of the notch. The camera and projector and fingerprint scanner can all be implemented underneath the thin OLED display.

    And basically have the pixels Black/not in-use when you want to take a selfie or unlock the screen.

    However, the earpiece is a concern. They might opt for a vibrating screen to disperse sound through the air or bone-conductiond…. but neither is a great solution in comparison to a bog-standard earpiece. However, judging by their work ethic, they will probably take this route and also kill off TouchID for the Apple Ecosystem, using only FaceID going forwards.

    The rear cameras will get better, but very slowly, and using mostly gimmicks. So it’s form over function for many of the key components.

  8. I can almost believe that Apple made their ugly notchphone just so they can have a laugh about all the copycats with notches hitting the market in its wake.

    1. Ok, but the Essential Phone had the notch first. you know that, right?

      Damn I had the notch.

      1. I do know that. But we’ve already seen many device makers take cues from Apple. It’s Apple they’re following now. And their notchphone has sold much more. Essential got to market first, and I prefer that solution to Apple’s. As much as I dislike Apple, considering when they released their phone, it’s obvious their phone was in development before Essential was known. I think this “trend” is rather terrible. After smartphones reached a certain level of quality, it’s as if the big players have systematically looked for ways to make them worse(no headphone jack, curved edges, notches).

  9. It depends on what Apple is doing instead. While they no doubt have a world class design team, that doesn’t mean every design decision they make is the best one possible, and even if their new notchless design is better, other companies might not have the tech (or rights to the tech) necessary to follow suit.

    Frankly, I don’t think it’s a big deal either way. I’m not averse to a notch design as long as the software deals with it properly, but then I’m not in the market for a $300+ phone, so it’ll be a while before I have that option…

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