As in any other industry, trends in the smartphone market are coming and going pretty fast. The same goes for 2019, when a new, trendy design trend finds its way onto the shelves. As of 2017, smartphone designs were in the foreground. Apple was not the first phone manufacturer to have cut out of a smartphone screen – LG received this award thanks to the V10 smartphone, which was fully released in 2015 – but no one would deny that Apple is responsible for the smartphone boom Notches that began in late 2017 with the iPhone X. When Apple's iPhone design for the tenth anniversary began to leak, nearly every smartphone maker on Earth hurried to copy it. The end result was a bit embarrassing since almost every Android phone manufacturer in the world released cell phones that spat on the iPhone X's images, but seeing Android phone manufacturers copy Apple's designs is obviously nothing new.
Often referred to as a punch-hole display, the idea This new smartphone design increases the screen-to-body ratio and reduces dead space around the screen of a smartphone. In this respect, there is no question that it succeeds. Phones with notches neat things like cameras, speakers and various sensors, but there's still plenty of room left between these components.
With a perforated screen as pictured in the picture above, all the empty space from the notch is completely eliminated. The camera lens (or the camera lens on cell phones with two cameras facing forward) pushes through a tiny little hole in the screen, and other sensors are small enough to be placed over it in the barely above it. A thin recess for the speaker of the phone is usually also in the upper bezel, or some phones use newer technologies, by which the screen of a smartphone actually acts as a loudspeaker.
There is hardly any question that hole ads are new and cool. The Galaxy S10 series, which Samsung is launching in less than a month, will be the first globally available flagship to be shipped with pinhole screens, and this new design will definitely help distinguish it from previous flagships. However, once the novelty of the punched display wears off, you will find that this new design is really no better than a notch.
"Screen-to-Body Ratio" is a value for the hardcore gadget fans throw around all the time. It measures the amount of ad on the face of a smartphone compared to the unused space around the ad. A smartphone with an old design that has large apertures above and below the screen therefore has a low screen-to-body ratio. For example, Apple's old iPhone 8 has a screen-to-body ratio of about 65%. Phones with notch displays and narrow bezels display significantly higher screen-to-body ratios. It climbs to about 83% on the iPhone XS and even higher on smartphones with smaller nicks.
Phones like the upcoming Galaxy S10 will have screen-to-body ratios that rise significantly higher. Early rumors indicated that the screen-to-body ratio of the Galaxy S10 would be around 93%. Not even phones with small notches like the OnePlus 6T break the mark of 90%. The screen-to-body ratio of the OnePlus 6T is about 86%.
Here's the thing: none of that is really important. If you're a phone nerd, these are fun toss around numbers. However, if you're different, you're glad that modern smartphones now have larger screens than before without increasing the overall size of the phones. When the iPhone X and the copycats launched for the first time, the notch design was probably a magnet for some people because it was cool and new. Well, it's not like that because it's the norm. When the Galaxy S10 first hits the market, the hole design will probably be a magnet for some people because it's cool and new. However, this will only be the norm by the end of the year.
Apart from the novelty of screens like Samsung's Infinity-O-Display, there is something else to consider: Is this new design really better than a notch? There is no question that phones with holes on the screen have more room than displays with notches. However, the part of the screen that is affected by holes and notches is located at the top.
The only content displayed at the top of the screen is the menu bar and the battery and reception icons. For a smartphone with a notch design, the content is spread out on both sides of the notch. For smartphones with a hole design, this content is pushed to one side or the other while the hole is in an upper corner.
So I ask again. Is this design:
… better than this design:
… in any meaningful way?
No, that's not true. In both cases, the status area at the top of the screen shifts slightly and you lose a little screen near an edge when viewing videos or photos. Even for phones with large notches such as the iPhone XS and the iPhone XR, the actual downside to a hole is minimal. The status panel of Apple still shows all the information you need.
In the end, both designs are just pit stops on the way to smartphones with true all-screen designs. At present, several companies, including Samsung and Apple, are developing a technology that allows components such as cameras and proximity sensors to be embedded under the screen without actually having to break a hole. Yes, displays can be made transparent – do you remember this great invisible TV demo from 2016? Within a few years, phones with no notches or holes (or stupid pop-up selfie cameras that want to break) will be the norm. Even then, the actual benefit of eliminating small nicks and holes is minimal. While it may seem cool and novel at first glance, increasing the screen-to-body ratio by a few percentage points at the outer edge does not provide any significant advantage.