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08 August 2017

Your next phone’s probably gonna have an ugly cutout right its screen

Sharp’s been making phones with edge-to-edge bezel-less displays for years, so many in fact that its newly announced Aquos S2 is its 29th one, according to Engadget. 

The phone’s hardware is nothing special, but the screen, which has a whopping 87.5 percent screen-to-body ratio and a cutout for the selfie camera, is a total showstopper. 

Love it or hate it, phone screens with weird cutouts (or “notches” as everyone’s calling them) to house things like the selfie camera, sensors, and earpiece are coming — and they’ll soon be the norm.

There are several approaches phone makers are taking to design phones with larger screens that fit into smaller footprints.

Samsung’s been perfecting curved edges that bend the screen’s sides so that the phone is narrower and easier to hold on one hand. On this year’s Galaxy S8, Samsung reduced the bezel above and below the screen to create an “infinity display” that’s longer than any phone display it’s ever used before.

LG’s G6 also has a longer 18:9 “FullVision display” that squeezes a larger and longer screen into a phone that doesn’t feel unwieldy. 

I’ve played with both of these phones and their displays are the best out there. They’re so beautiful your eyes will tear up just staring into them.

Both of these phone screens have rounded corners as opposed to traditional right-angled ones, but they’re not pushing the boundaries of display design.

But don’t you worry because that’s where phone makers like Essential, Apple, and Sharp are stepping in.

Sharp's Aquos S2 has a larger display in a body that's barely larger than an iPhone and it's thanks to the special display.

Sharp’s Aquos S2 has a larger display in a body that’s barely larger than an iPhone and it’s thanks to the special display.

For example, Android co-founder Andy Rubin’s Essential Phone wowed nerds with its odd display sporting a cutout for the selfie camera. Sharp’s Aquos S2 has the same kind of cutout and it’s highly likely the Essential Phone’s using its “Free Form Displays.” The cutout’s been polarizing with some people loving it and others hating it because it interrupts the display.

Apple’s upcoming iPhone 8 is also expected to come with a weird-looking notch. All the leaks, including Apple’s own glyph accidentally revealed in the huge HomePod firmware, have basically confirmed the notch is coming.

While the Essential Phone’s notch is only for a selfie camera, the iPhone 8’s expected to be longer and house an enhanced FaceTime HD camera, earpiece, proximity sensor and possibly a new infrared sensor for facial recognition. 

Sharp’s tried putting the selfie camera in the bottom bezel on previous phones but it wasn’t the ideal angle for selfies. The camera would always be pointing right up your nose unless you rotated the phone. It’s clear the cutout for the selfie camera is design that phone makers are unwilling to compromise on.

These new displays are gonna take some time to get used to. We’re not even sure how Android or iOS will look on them. One designer, Max Rudberg, took a stab at imagining what iOS 11 might look like on the oddball screen:

Nobody’s been able to play with the Essential Phone so how Android apps work with the cutout is anybody’s guess. It doesn’t help that the phone missed its launch last month and the company hasn’t announced a new release date or timeframe. 

Whatever the software looks like on these new screens, it’s time kiss your perfectly rectangle screens goodbye because your next phone’s probably gonna be weird-looking with a cutout. You might as well embrace it now because it’s gonna be an inescapable trend.

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