iPhone X, Asus Zenfone 5, Huawei P20, OnePlus 6, LG G7: Why is everyone embracing the notch?


Apple iPhone X’s arrival proved to be an inspiration for many Android manufacturers. Although the notch-design was not endorsed by several reviewers and general consumers, it did not stop Android manufacturers from embracing it in their latest smartphones. This makes us wonder why most of the Android OEMs are drawn towards this new design? What made Apple iPhone X’s notch an inspiration for Android OEMs such as Huawei, Asus, OnePlus, Vivo, Oppo, and LG? Let’s take a look at the timeline of iPhone X’s launch followed by the announcement of Android phones with similar design and what are the upcoming smartphones featuring the notch design.

Well, to start with, the iPhone X is not the first smartphone to come with a notch. It was Andy Rubin’s Essential Phone that introduced the notch design in May 2017. The iPhone X was the second smartphone to embrace the notch and it ultimately lead to making the notch mainstream. Now, we can simply call other Android manufacturers “iPhone X wannabes”, but there has to be some explanation or purpose why the notch became such a rage among these manufacturers that they decided to include it on their flagships? One thing that has been made clear by the trend is that the notch is not going anywhere, it came, it stayed, and it ultimately made its way to more smartphones.

iPhone X, Asus ZenFone 5, Oppo F7, Vivo V9, Huawei P20: Tracing the ‘notch’ timeline

In September 2017, the iPhone X debuted with the notch, which was soon duplicated by Asus on its ZenFone 5 series that launched in February 2018 at the MWC event in Barcelona. Then the March 2018 brought us Oppo R15, Vivo X21, Vivo X21 UD, Oppo F7, and then the Huawei P20 and the P20 Pro.

Oppo F7, Vivo V9 First Sale Date is April 2
Vivo V9 (left) Oppo F7 (right)

The timeline of these launches show how in six months most of the OEMs were sucked into the trend. However, these OEMs have not embraced the notch for the sake of becoming closer to the iPhone X, but for an uncomplicated reason – it makes their phones look different and breaks the monotony that the front panel on smartphones has been stuck with for years. Of course, given the pace Chinese manufacturers are adopting it, the notch design will also become too mainstream.

Asus ZenFone 5, Oppo F7, Vivo V9, Huawei P20: Are they finding the notch useful?

To answer if the notch is useful or not, we have to hark back to the time when Apple came out with the iPhone X. The Cupertino giant, at that time, made it quite clear why the notch is useful. You see, smartphones have been following similar designs for years, but Apple wanted to break the pattern with the iPhone X. The company imagined the next trend to be all glass, on both rear and front. To turn its ambition into reality, it had to think of a way to place the front-camera, sensors, and speaker neatly without taking up space on the top of the front panel. This is where the engineers thought of the notch, that will house all these elements without taking up much space. And they had a living inspiration in the form of the Essential Phone.

So, the first reason behind embracing the notch would be to save up space and make the smartphone look neater and different. In the smartphone era where we now have taller displays with wider aspect ratios, the design change was more than needed.

Besides, another major reason behind the addition of notch was that it helped Apple with the Face ID feature, that unlocks the phone by mapping the user’s face. The notch on the iPhone X houses TrueDepth camera system, which is essential for the Face ID to work. The camera system is an amalgamation of various technologies including the proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, infrared camera, front camera, dot projector, speaker and microphone. All these elements are used by the Face ID feature, and they also help in other functions of a smartphone. The notch on the front panel sorts the placement of these elements.

Also, the notch allots more screen real estate to the manufacturers, which helps them in scaling the aspect ratio. Most of the smartphones with taller displays come with 16:9 or 18:9 aspect ratios, but the notch design changed the dynamics. Of course, the Galaxy S9+ pushed the trend by offering 18.5:9 display without the notch, but the iPhone X and the Huawei P20 Pro have an even taller display with notch, offering 18.7:9 and 19.5:9 aspect ratios.

Regardless, of all the justifications that every company may have about the notch, we think it is not a wise inclusion. Firstly, the content for smartphones is not designed according to the notch display, which means that users will have to settle with black borders while watching videos on YouTube or any other platform. This is the reason why Huawei included a feature to enable or disable the notch, which also counters the very idea why the company thought of including when it knew that users may want to disable it?

OnePlus 6 and LG G7: Also adopting the notch

OnePlus 6

Yes, the OnePlus 6 is indeed going to come with a notch. The company’s co-founder Carl Pei recently confirmed it too. There are also rumours that Google’s next Pixel lineup may also house a notch as the company has already included native support for the notch in the Android P developer preview.

There are similar speculations about the LG G7 that will come with the same design and has also asked the Reddit users about their opinion on the notch. Here are some of the responses from the Redditors:

Redditors on notch
Redditor: muskovitzj
Redidtors on notch
Redditor: deathclient
Redditors on notch
Redditor: Noah_Pelfan

We wonder how long this trend is going to last. Because when we think of it, the notch does not seem as essential as the companies are claiming it to be. Samsung did not get stung by the notch bug and launched its Galaxy S9 lineup with taller displays housing suitable aspect ratios. As many Redditors rightly pointed, it should be more than screen wars between the OEMs, the inside of a smartphone matters more than just experimenting with the outlook.

What’s your take on the notch? Do you like it or you don’t want to see any more smartphones joining the trend? Share your views with us in the comments section below.