There’s a new kid on the block when it comes to flagship Android phones: father-of-Android Andy Rubin has today unveiled the Essential Phone. Despite the name bringing to mind a basic device, it has great specs and a scuff-resistant titanium & ceramic casing – and carries a flagship-sized $699 price-tag.

But the first thing anyone will notice about the design is that camera cutout in the screen. It’s the approach Essential has taken to creating a near-bezel-free phone while retaining a high-spec front-facing camera …

Traditionally, smartphones have needed a top bezel to provide room for both camera and speaker – as well as things like light-sensors. You can play with speaker and sensor placement, but the front-facing camera has to be, well, front-facing.

We’ve of course seen concept images and Apple has filed patents for cameras embedded into the display, but unlike an embedded fingerprint sensor there has been little in the way of  rumor to support this idea. For now, then, it looks like the iPhone 8 will need some physical space in the casing to house the front-facing camera.

But what Essential has done is an interesting approach. Rather than have a bezel running across the full width of the casing just to house a camera in the centre, it has restricted the upper bezel to an area just wide enough to do the job. The rest of the top of the device is available for the display.

Of course, iOS currently uses the centre of the display for the clock, but that would be a trivial thing to change in iOS 11.

What do you think of the approach taken by Essential? Would you like to see the same thing in the iPhone 8? Or would you rather have the top bezel extend all the way across the phone? Please take our poll, and share your reactions to the Essential Phone design in the comments – you can check out additional photos on our sister site, 9to5Google.

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