The iPhone X’s so-called Notch is here to stay. Until it’s gone. For now, the Notch is both a utilitarian design element with embedded functionality, and a design symbol copied by Apple’s competitors. As is the case with many design choices, perspective matters.
Is the Notch a design flaw? Or, is it representative of improved functionality? Is the glass half empty or half full?
By that I mean every smartphone of significance has certain similar functions that have graced the so-called forehead and chin on each display. For iPhone, the forehead was the location for camera, microphone, speaker, and other items. The chin at the bottom of the display was for the Home button and, more recently, Touch ID.
Apple removed the Home button and the chin area which allowed the display to flow all the way to the bottom of iPhone X. At the top, in the forehead area, Apple added more technology with Face ID components, but also allowed the display– left and right of the Notch– to house a few visual elements (battery, signal strength, time, etc.).
So, technically, the forehead itself was made smaller and more functional than previous iPhones and most smartphones. And, the name was changed to the Notch.
Apple packed plenty of useful functionality into an area smaller than previous smartphone foreheads. The areas to the left and right of the Notch– often referred to as ears or horns— house functions, too.
For most iPhone X users, the Notch quickly became a non-issue but also became a design element for competitors and now shows up in no less than a dozen new Android smartphone designs. For some, their notch is little more than a copycat element, but for others, their notch also houses various elements that graced the forehead in models past.
Technology changes, so we can expect Apple or some other smartphone maker to eliminate the notch entirely at some point in the future. Fingerprint sensors already work within a display on some new Android smartphone models, but Apple seems to have kissed Touch ID goodbye in favor of Face ID.
Zach Epstein does a comparison of iPhone X vs. the new OnePlus 6 which features their version of iPhone X’s Notch. The phone’s shape seems to mirror iPhone X at every corner even though the display is much larger.
For the first time ever, we found a group of people who love Apple’s iPhone design even more than Apple fanboys: Android phone designers. In 2018, Android handset designers around the world apparently decided to take the year off. Why bother putting all that time, effort, and money into designing your own phone when Apple can do all the heavy lifting for you?
OnePlus 6 even has a glass back that copies iPhone X– but without wireless charging. Go figure, right? Maybe next year.
About the time all Android smartphone makers copy iPhone X’s Notch, Apple may have moved on to display integrated technology– all the Notch components deftly tucked away in the display itself, sans Notch.