“Do you prefer a phone with a content blocking and ugly notch or a phone 3mm taller BUT with a full screen?”
I hate the notch.
This is the real question Apple fanboys and the pro-Apple biased media are trying to obfuscate by framing the argument in a misleading way.
I know this blog post and attempt at a demonstration of how a notch is not a good design solution may arrive too late. Apple, its fanboys and the pro-Apple biased media have already convinced the majority of people that the iPhone X notch “gives you more screen”. But since Apple will keep on launching phones with notches and some Android manufacturers copycats, well… copy, I can still try to make some users (you?) realize that it may not be as logical a proposition as you might believe.
So, this blog post will try and answer some of the questions the notch situation raises.
What are these questions?
do you hate notch?
1. What is the Apple fanboys argument?
The Apple fanboys and the iMedia’s argument is that a (the iPhone X) notch will always “give you more screen” since it eats into the side of the top bezel.
It goes like this:
“For the same footprint or phone size, you can get more screen with a notch since it reveals the screen under the sides of the top bezel. Therefore, you clearly gain more screen real estate by implementing a notch instead of a conventional bezel.”
That’s the way they framed the argument.
You just need to look at a simple mock up like this to see how true this argument is, right?
i hate notch, they hate iPhone notch,
So, formulated and presented like this, it seems obvious that a notch “gives you more screen.” But is it true?
2. But does the iPhone X notch really give you more screen? And more screen than what?
What is deliberately occulted, though, is that this argument is ONLY true for phones of the same size. The “a notch gives you more screen” argument ONLY works when you compare phones with the exact same footprint.
Well, and there you think: “Duh, that’s the whole point”.
Is it now? Why considering phones of the same size and not screens of the size?
Who has arbitrarily decided that a manufacturer couldn’t increase the size of its phone by a mere 3mm (compared to one with a notch) to give it a full screen?
That’s why I speak of “framing the argument”. They’ve put our mind in a box (only for this particular argument, of course) and we’re not allowed to think outside of it. But when we do, the truth starts to show up and more questions arise.
Did all phones on the market have the same size before the Essential Phone and then the iPhone X were launched? Was this size impossible to increase because of some physical barrier? Of course not.
There were and still are plenty of phones with bigger (and smaller, obviously) displays and a FULL screen. This may seem a silly point to make, but…
What I mean is that if we realize that the constraint of limiting the phone to an arbitrary size doesn’t exist, then the “a notch gives more screen” argument doesn’t stand anymore. It’s a just a stupid one. Look:
To get a phone with a full screen (thus more screen than a phone with a notch), we just need to increase the height of the phone by 3mm. And “voila”… We’ve magically gotten rid of this ugly notch. And, just like that, content isn’t blocked anymore by a bezel protruding on the screen.
In a very restrictive context, one where a phone size CANNOT be increased by 3mm, a phone with a notch would give you more screen. A phone with a notch would give you more display than another hypothetical, virtual phone of exactly the same size and proportions. But this phone doesn’t exist. It’s only a mental construct.
In the real world, are parameters this narrow? Aren’t manufacturers just free to build a slightly bigger phone with a display that doesn’t have a notch?
Therefore, the real question is in fact: Do you prefer a phone 3mm shorter or one having a full screen?
That’s what the whole argument and debate should be. NOT believing (or trying to make us believe) that a notch is always a better solution. This is completely false.
hate iPhone’s notch
3. Do full-screen phones have a problem in need of a solution?
Well, if a company decides to build phones with notches, it may be because phones with a full screen have a problem? Or, at the very least, that they can be improved upon by adding a notch.
So, tell me, in what way full screen phones are a problem? What problem do they cause that we need a notch to answer it?
Outside of the Reality Distortion Field, in the real world, isn’t a full screen always a better solution than one with some part of it blocked by a notch?
So, isn’t a notch only seemingly offering more screen and in fact a stupid design solution… to a problem that doesn’t exist?
When you think about it with some distance and more objectively, this whole matter makes no sense.
You’re beginning to ask yourself. But why then? Why do they make phones with notches? I’ll answer that question further down. But before that it needs to get even crazier. Just watch.
Do we seriously consider that making a phone 3mm smaller but with a notch is a better solution than one with a full screen but 3mm taller?
Is a slightly higher screen-to-body ratio (not in the iPhone X case though, since it has a lower one than a Galaxy S8, S9 or a Note 8 for example) and 3mm less in height are worth having less screen?
Yes, LESS SCREEN. And this is the next question we’ll try and answer.
4. Doesn’t a notch give you, in fact, LESS screen?
I could make the exact opposite argument that the one developed by the notch fans: A phone with a notch actually has a SMALLER screen area than a phone with a full screen.
Yes, because if you take 2 phones with the same display size, the one with the notch will indeed be smaller and (everything else being equal) have a higher screen-to-body ratio BUT it’ll also have a notch ON the screen. So, effectively LESS screen than the 3mm taller phone with a slightly lower screen-to-body ratio BUT a FULL screen.
Look again at the featured image at the top of this page if you need more convincing. It’s way better designed than my poor mock ups. LOL
So, in order to gain in footprint, you lose in screen surface.
But wait, it gets even worse.
5. How is the iPhone X (or any notched phone) screen made, again?
To definitely put this stupid and crazy argument to rest, let’s consider how the iPhone X (and any ‘notched’ screen for that matter) is manufactured.
Yes, the manufacturing process of the iPhone X display itself will tell us everything we need to know and definitely answer the question: “Does a notch give more screen?”
The issue is plenty of people think that, thanks to a notch, the screen ‘expands’ where the sides of a bezel should be. And, again, it sounds/is logical when you compare 2 phones with the exact same size. But does the screen really expand on the side of the notch? Is that what truly happens?
How is an iPhone X screen made? By cutting out the area of the screen where the notch is.
What it means is that you take a full screen and reduce its surface by cutting into it to fit a notch.
Yes, the iPhone X screen is CUT. Knowing that, I hardly see how can anyone could make the argument that you get more screen (than if it wasn’t cut out).
So, the reality is that a notch doesn’t reveal more screen, it is a bezel protruding on (and eating some of) the screen (surface).
This also means that the 19.5:9, 5.8″ iPhone screen isn’t technically a 19.5:9 5.8″ screen since you need to deduct the surface area taken by the notch, by the way.
And a display with such a weird ratio is another issue by itself, notch or no notch. More on that further down.
Last, maybe if Apple had made a 5.7″ screen but with no notch and slim bezels, Apple users would have been perfectly fine with it.
But you know what? None of this really matter.
Because, again, whatever screen size an OEM chooses to design its ‘notched phone’, another one can always add 3mm of bezel on top and it will always give us a full screen.
It just has to take the exact same screen the “notched phone” uses, NOT cut/dent it and… put the bezel on top. That’s it. It’s that simple.
Though this is true until we reach a size that wouldn’t be practical for a phone
screen, of course. We don’t want to end up with phones looking like this:
Let’s say that this size is 6.5” (the rumored size of the upcoming iPhone X Plus). A manufacturer can just make a phone with a 6.5” FULL screen, without a notch but with a bezel on top (of the screen)… and no weird dimensions (screen ratio).
Yes, the phone will be 3mm taller, so what?
At this point, the cost (in size/handling) of adding 3mm to the height of the phone is negligible. Whereas the fact to have a full screen would be A LOT better.
Worst case scenario. Don’t you prefer a phone with a, let’s say, 6.4” display and a FULL screen than one with a 6.5” display but with a notch?
Pushing the analysis even further, the 6.4” phone could have the same screen surface that the 6.5” one with a notch anyway… because the notch would eat up on the screen, remember?
6. More notch problems.
Even if we consider that we create a ‘notched phone’ by extending the screen where the bezels should be, a notch creates other problems.
Doesn’t that block content? Like it’s shown here (iDownload Blog).
Developers have to find workarounds to accommodate for the stupid presence of the notch. Sometimes the workaround can be clever and well done. But you can still clearly see that a piece of screen is missing. Plus, workarounds like this shouldn’t have to be implemented in the first place.
So, even if we accept the idea that a notch gives you more screen. Do you really still think it’s a better solution than a (slightly smaller) full screen?
And doesn’t it also create more phones with even weirder (than 18.5:9, of which I’m already not a fan because of the black bars in some situations) screen aspect ratios?
And… who asked for phones with notches, anyway? Is that really a thing consumers want? Many want an iPhone X but does that mean they buy it because of the notch or despite it having a notch?
It would seem, looking at social media and comments under articles that the second possibility is the right one:
“The notch doesn’t bother me that much”.
“I don’t notice it in portrait mode anymore.”
“I’m used to it, now.”
“After a week, I forgot about it”
But do they like it? Maybe not, right? i hate the notch,
It brings us to our next (important) question:
7. So, why did Apple put an ugly notch on the iPhone X?
The notch is just a design choice Apple made to visually differentiate themselves from the competition… to the detriment of their users’ experience.
Yes, you read that right. And after this demonstration, it should make a lot more sense as well.
The notch is a marketing and branding stunt.
Ewan Spence’s article for Forbes:
“I’ve spoken before about the design of the notch, and I keep coming back to one idea… that Apple has sacrificed the user interface so that the iPhone X can have a distinctive visual silhouette as branding. The notch can show up easily in graphical representations […]
Apple’s choice in design around the notch was to emphasize Apple, not create a smooth experience for the user.”
This explanation goes for the Essential phone as well. But:
- Essential’s implementation isn’t nearly as annoying as Apple’s iPhone X one since its notch is way smaller.
Wait, I’m hearing the Apple fanboys speak:
“But you can’t compare the Essential phone notch with the iPhone X notch. The iPhone X notch is full of tech with all the sensors and cameras needed for that marvel of technology that is FaceID”.
If it’s too big to allow for a small enough notch… don’t do it!
Just place all these sensors and cameras in a normal bezel. Nobody asked Apple nor Apple was forced into making an ugly big ass notch.
- Essential needed this differentiator. It’s a brand new company that needs to make a name for itself. So, they chose to launch a phone with a nipple a small bearable notch that could be immediately identified as the Essential Phone.
From a marketing perspective, it makes sense. And, again, their notch is not so big that it makes it really annoying.
Let’s say, their implementation is a bit less ugly from an aesthetics point of view and less stupid from a usability standpoint. But I still don’t think it’s a good solution.
The next, and last, question we’ll answer is…
8. Why are other manufacturers following suits? Is it because they’re all stupid?
Isn’t a manufacturer even more stupid to implement a solution that is provably silly?
Yes, but not exactly. I hope that we can now agree on the fact that a notch is not a good solution to… what problem again?
So, implementing it after having time to analyze it, see the issues it creates and the non-existing problems it doesn’t solve is, well, yes… stupid.
But Apple did it. And millions of consumers bought a notched phone. Then, some manufacturers copied. Why? Here are several possible reasons:
- Some companies don’t have imagination and, to be fair, they don’t have R&D budgets either. They try to replicate what sells. Sometimes by adding their own twist to it with the competence and financial means they (don’t) have.
- Just to copy Apple without a second thought. Not because it’s better (or worse). It doesn’t matter. But only because Apple did it and some customers want something looking like an iPhone X but at a way lower price point.
- Because if Apple did it, it must be forward thinking and/or innovative. Whether the executives of these companies believe that themselves or they believe their customers believe it, the result is the same: more notched phones.
Anyway, more companies adopting (embracing) the notch doesn’t prove Apple right. It doesn’t prove that a notch is a good solution either.
It just proves Apple’s influence on the market, some companies’ lack of imagination and/or stupidity… and some customers gregarious instinct (yes, unfortunately, some are just sheep).
So, please, don’t give into this whole nonsense and don’t buy a phone with a notch.
To conclude, soon enough, this trend will prove to be a stupid fad and will disappear as quickly as it came, anyway.
Companies like Samsung (and maybe LG) will launch foldable phones and others like Vivo will put true edge to edge screen phones on the market.
And it will let Apple with its stupid and ugly iPhones years behind anyone else… And the copycats look even sillier.
TL;DR: A notch gives you more screen if you’re absolutely constrained to a given surface (dimensions). If there’s nothing stopping a manufacturer from increasing the height of its phone by 3mm, then a top bezel is always better and always gives you more screen. And you know the only ones that absolutely need to defend the notch phones are the Apple fanboys. That’s why they, sometimes passing themselves as Android users, do it that much.
This year the entire Apple’s line up will be made of notched phones (iPhone X, iPhone X Plus and a completely redesigned iPhone SE… at twice its actual price though) . This will be fun.
We aren’t done hearing about how a wonderful and beautiful solution the notch is… SMH.
In my opinion, a full screen is always preferable than one with an ugly blocking-content notch.
And, if there was only one argument to be made,:
By definition, in the real world, if a part of a screen is blocked and actually physically cut off it, you don’t get more screen… You get less (than the same screen if it was not cut/dented). Period.
Ok… Maybe in the Reality Distortion Field.