As the war on bezels continues, smartphone makers seem to be falling into one of three camps this year. There are phones with slimmer-than-in-the-past bezels. There are notch-phones with a cut-out near the top of the display for a front-facing camera. And recently we’ve seen the addition of a third category: phones with slide-out or pop-out cameras that hide behind the screen when they’re not in use.

Next year we may start to see a fourth option: phones with holes in the screen.

In a recent Twitter post, Ice Universe claims they’ll be “mainstream technology in 2019.”

Meanwhile, it looks like Xiaomi is getting ready to launch their first phone with a slider-style camera. A new Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 promo video makes the upcoming phone look pretty slick. It combines a nearly bezel-free front with a front-facing 24MP dual camera setup that only appears when you need it. Sliding down the screen to reveal the cameras also turns on the display.

But adding moving parts to a device that’s likely to get jostled around in your pocket or handbag for a couple of years still seems like a risky proposition.

Aesthetically I find it less objectionable than placing a hole in the center of the screen though.

Which brings me to the question posed in the headline: would you rather have a phone with a hole in the screen? Or a slide-out camera. Which is the more ridiculous solution to a problem we didn’t know we had until a year or two ago?

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39 replies on “Would you rather have a phone with a slide-out camera, or a hole in the screen?”

  1. The slider seems like the best option. I mean privacy wise even if you can block access to the camera via OS permissions, a hardware solution seems best. Plus, more space for the screen.

  2. a periscope of some sort that morphs out of the camera, using mirrors and lenses to let the back camera see the front. It could be built into the ridiculous handles that all phones need now because of the small bezels.

  3. No front camera whatsoever. I am not that narcisistic. I want a full screen.

  4. I voted for the bezel so that it can include speakers (top), microphones (bottom), front camera, front flash, some sensors and obviously some space to hold the phone while watching it in landscape mode. Please correct me if I’m missing anything.

  5. Small sample, but from the survey results seemingly the manufacturers are not giving people what they are interested in. Not surprising, particularly given the history of Samsung and Apple.

    1. Not giving Liliputing commenters what they want anyway. I’d be vary wary of making any generalizations based on responses of readers of this site. 🙂

      1. They should listen to us. Liliputing readers are smarter, more discerning and better looking than the average person. 🙂

        1. Smarter, more discerning, etc. doesn’t matter. They make a lot of money off the gullible. 😉

      2. I don’t recall Apple or others polling customers what they really want. Again, it’s some nerds who are geniuses in everything except common sense.

  6. I don’t care for these bezel-less phones at all. I currently own the Galaxy S9+, and it is impossible to hold onto unless you have a case on it.

  7. The Mi MIX 2 already solved this problem. Why are manufacturers still confused about this?

  8. I’d rather a slightly thicker top and bottom bezel, that way we could have front facing speakers. Maybe a better antenna too.

  9. Brad the next discussion should be about the idiotic rounded corners trend for displays. Nothing like cutting out details. Like for what? Because Google is going with “circles” therefore their phones need rounded corners when in fact every video and photo in existence does not have rounded corners? Nothing like cutting off original content to suit a bunch of nerds coming up with brilliant design decisions.

  10. The logical question to ask is whether you want to buy a tv, or make the tv you currently own have a “hole” in it or a blacked out part. Make it real. Talk about your television rather than making this about phones. Let’s pay more than ever for a mobile phone and then accept that the display is obscured? There is stupid and then there is stupid that breaches the point where intelligent discussion cannot be had. If you have to block a video or photo or content due to the hardware inside, then don’t release the product. This is why I say forget about phones and talk televisions. Apple doesn’t make televisions. Everyone can relate to a television and that way people will stop making excuses for this stupidity. Oh because it’s a mobile phone, it is somehow acceptable. Utter nonsense. To summarize, keep the fucking bezel because you can’t lose the bezel without fucking up the viewing area. End of discussion.

    1. If you wanna return your notched phone, please go with this:
      “I wanna return this iphone X, because it has a bunch of dead pixels!” “Where?” “The whole f@ckin’ top!”

  11. I’m not sure it’s the technology, but I’d like a screen, or at least part of the screen with adjustable transparency. So when you don’t use the front-facing camera, you’d get a full screen, and when you do the zone in the display around the camera would be set to become transparent enough and without “activated” pixels in order to take photos or during a video chat.

    1. Apparently it does (and Samsung is also apparently working on this kind of solution). It’d be easier with OLED than with LCD. Both are capable of transparent displays but LCD still needs a light source and backlighting would be trickier in that shout because of this. Also transparent displays tend to look like slightly tincted Windows which means less light is getting through (so low light shots would definitely suffer though a screen “flash” could possibly help compensate). It’s also possibly other factors would suffer, like sharpness and resolution.

  12. Notch plus decent software. I have the Sharp Aquos S2 (snapdragon 660 version) which was released at almost the same time as the essential ph-1. I have no problem with the notch notifications go up beside it and because it is a small notch (unlike the IR or whatever 3D face detection systems) a lot of them can fit on either side and apps, like the camera, can take advantage of the space for extra controls if programmed to do so.
    16:9 videos fill the rest of the screen perfectly. The only complaint I actually have also applies for many devices with proportions different than 16:9 (to a lesser degree): improper software make outpouring video less than ideal. If the video is 16:9 I get letterbox to and bottom and a pillar on one side (which depends on the phone’s orientation). I can zoom in to get rid of the pillar but that will crop some from the opposite end and from the top and bottom (and the letterboxing remains). If it’s welder aspect video I might not lose party of that image on top and bottom but I’ll still lose one side. Oh, this happens with both miracast and usb-c to hdmi.

    Other than this it works fine, including the earpiece.

    Personally I wouldn’t want moving parts if it can be avoided. I wouldn’t want anything to break or crud getting in there and timing up the works.

    I’m okay with bezels if there’s a good reason like improved speakers or a camera system that actually adds something. Big notches on the other hand are more a question of aesthetics and vanity on the phone maker’s side, they can claim a bigger screen size despite very little usable screen estate on either side. In these cases they might as well keep the bezel as far most functionality is concerned.

    Holes… They look worse and it’s not like you’re going to be using the smidgen of screen on the other side for anything in particular (and it makes it stand out more).

  13. I vote for bezels. I never had a problem with the existence of bezels. Phones were well developed a couple of years ago so they decided to ruin them and call it innovation.

  14. That sounds like a rock and a hard place. I don’t mind bezels, but I also like being able to watch the occasional video on my phone without a hole or corner being cut off. I also don’t want a mechanism that will fail, but given how seldom I use the selfie camera, that’d probably be preferable. However, there are many options outside of these two I’d much prefer.

  15. I’ve never used the selfie camera on any of my phones. Ever. So if I had to choose, I’d probably just say nix the front camera.

    1. I don’t usually use it either but sometimes it serves as a lit mirror when I want to see something in a tight spot.

  16. I’d just like a phone with a bezel, thanks. So I can, you know, hold on to it.

    1. Right. Me too. But this article is discussing top bezels which do nothing to help with holding the phone. I think it’s pretty much just going to come down to requiring that all phones add-on big bulky OtterBox-style cases in order to avoid unintended screen presses from simply trying to get a grip on the phone.

      1. What about holding the phone sideways like when watching or recording a video? Also, many games use landscape orientation.

        1. Precisely.
          Not to mention a phone like the LG G2 actually has a smaller physical dimension than most new phones, yet these new phones have smaller displays. 5.2inch is larger than a 5.8inch display… when you obfuscate the aspect ratio.

          So if the aim: Get as much screen in as small area as possible, with ample holding zones and camera location.
          The best solution: Stick to a 16:9 screen, have a bit of bezel on the sides, have a decent amount of bezels on the top and bottom (80% Screen to Body Ratio). Put the front camera(s) in the bezel. And stick two front-firing stereo loudspeakers in the bezel. Have the whole front panel glass, and flat, so that it can be protected with a Glass Screen Protector.

      2. What are you smoking? What do you hold when in landscape mode??? Nobody gives a shit about an extra couple millimeters to create a longer phone so the display doesn’t have to be blocked off. If people gave a shit, then many cases on the market wouldn’t be best sellers.

        1. Nobody explicitly _wanted_ the headphone jack to go away, but it did, because everybody copied Apple in a bad decision to be seem “hip” and “up-to-date”. There were very little option offered for headphone-jack bearing flagships: the S9/Note 9, the LG and I think a Nokia, but I’m not sure. I don’t count the Poco, because that’s not a “flagship”, but a very good mid-range phone with top-of-the-line specs. The notch is the same thing, and actually the 18:9 (2:1) aspect ratio screen too. If you didn’t like these, you could keep your old phone. Buying a new one? Well, find the one with the less compromises to your taste. And I think the reason is that recently you can’t really innovate with a new phone. Everybody uses the fastest SoC available (S845), even on some budget models. Everybody has now access to AMOLED panels. Every phone has all the gimmics, dual-cameras, fingerprint readers, face unlocks, etc. Remember the Nokia days, where you had to decide if you wanted the phone with a WiFi or the one with GPS built in? Well, for almost a decade every phone has all the basic funcrions: WiFi, Bt, GPS, 3/4G, high-res screen, cameras front and back, standard ports… There is nowhere to go from here except fashion. And that’s the notch and the omission of headphone jack, and belive me even worse things are to come. Fashion is like that, it’s not about function.

    2. I like bezels just because I think that makes a cracked screen slightly less likely.

  17. Just put a small screen on the back and use the main camera for selfies.

      1. But then how do you Video Chat?
        Its not possible/pleasant with a small and low quality screen.

        If you wanted to go the route of “main camera is selfie camera”, then a better alternative seems to be a solution like the Huawei Honor 7i. The Oppo N1 started this trend in Android, but that was a little chubby and not too aesthetic. These were inspired by the older rotating cameraphones like the LG 5100 and the Sony Ericsson V800.

  18. It’s hard to cover camera holes when they’re embedded or part of the screen. With so many Android phones not getting security updates and manufacturers doubling-down on data-mining in all forms, camera covers are a purchasing factor (for me). I’ll take a bezel with a side-order of slide-out.

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