Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is one of the biggest weeks of the year for Android manufacturers as it gives them a chance to showcase their latest and greatest smartphones.
With this year’s event taking place 4 months after the release of the iPhone X, Android manufacturers are doing everything in the books to try to steal Apple’s thunder – mainly by trying to “out do” the notch design of the iPhone X.
But in my opinion, these solutions don’t do much other than validate that Apple’s decision to take the notch approach was the correct one …
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Samsung debuted its Galaxy S9 yesterday at their event, and as we noted at the time, the event was full of direct shots at Apple. Samsung touts that the Galaxy S9 features an even better version of its “Infinity Display,” which is basically its way of creating an “end-to-end” display.
Samsung openly mocked the iPhone X’s notch during its event, but the Galaxy S9’s “end-to-end” screen is not nearly as seamless as the iPhone X’s – trading the notch for eye sore bezels on the top and bottom.
With Samsung’s Infinity Display, you get an equally large bottom bezel as you do top bezel. The top bezel, while certainly far from providing an “infinity” experience, is helped in part by the ear piece and camera. The chin at the bottom of the device, however, is an eye sore to say the least.
The iPhone X’s, on the other hand, truly does go to the very edge of the device along the bottom and along the two “ears” around the notch at the top. Samsung is essentially trying to argue that its “Infinity Display” defeats the notch because, well, there is no notch.
You can argue that the iPhone X isn’t truly “bezel-less” either, and that’s a fair argument. But it looks a lot better than Samsung’s take.
“When we released the Infinity Display, most people had never seen anything like it. Its ground breaking design offered more screen in less space, and quickly set a new industry standard.
With the S9, we’ve built on this foundation, taking the same immersive end-to-end display, and refining it even further. We’ve created a design so sleek and unified, you can hardly tell where the screen ends.
And as always, you know, there’s no notch.”
I’d almost say that this is Samsung just being Samsung. The company mocked Apple for removing the headphone jack, but that decision widely set an industry standard and there aren’t many of us looking back. Does Samsung have a better solution than removing the 3.5mm port? It doesn’t seem that way.
Likewise, Samsung can mock the notch all it wants – but its “edge-to-edge” display is stuck a few years in the past and its stubbornness is only going to let Apple move further ahead.
Elsewhere, other Android manufacturers are trying to fully capitalize on the “edge-to-edge” display phenomenon with solutions that may look nice, but don’t appear to be practical in the long run. These are blatantly worse than Samsung’s Infinity Display, as well.
Chinese smartphone maker Vivo is currently making headlines for its Apex concept phone. The device boasts an edge-to-edge display with an in-screen fingerprint reader. Looking at the front of the display, you may wonder where the front-facing camera is. Well, it magically emerges from the top edge of course, as seen above.
As 9to5Google explained earlier today, the Apex has an screen-to-body ratio of 98 percent. This is accomplished by hiding the front-facing camera in the top edge. Thus, when you go to take a selfie or otherwise utilize the front-facing, the camera emerges automatically from the top edge.
Here it is in action:
On the surface, this is a pretty cool and flashy way of handling the tradeoff between accounting for the camera while also achieving as close to a “bezel-less display” as possible, but there are some seemingly pretty apparent tradeoffs.
For one, having another mechanical part seems like an unnecessary burden on both durability and price. Furthermore, it prevents future technology such as face recognition, granted Vivo is obviously going all-in on the in-screen fingerprint reading.
It is certainly a stunning looking phone on the surface, but is the 98 decent screen-to-body ratio worth the tradeoffs? I don’t think so.
Vivo isn’t alone in its efforts to defeat the notch. Another Chinese phone maker Bluboo is showing off its take on the bezel-less phone at Mobile World Congress. Instead of housing the front-facing camera in the top edge or in a notch, Bluboo’s idea is to put it on a hinge and store it on the back when not in use.
As you can see in the pictures below from Mashable, this is yet another example of a moving part and one that forgets about the need for sensors other components on the front-side of a smartphone.
Bluboo, Vivo, and even Samsung haven’t defeated the notch with these efforts. In fact, all they’ve done is reaffirm Apple’s decision to introduce the notch in the first place. I was just as skeptical as the next person when Apple showed off the iPhone X’s design, but it truly is a great solution to bringing as much screen resolution in as small of a body as possible.
For those who call it a distraction, I’d argue that having mechanical parts housing a front-facing camera is a bigger distraction. Furthermore, Samsung can say the Galaxy S9 has an “Infinity Display” all it wants, but the bezels are certainly an eye sore in comparison to some of the competition.
The best long-term solution here is for the front-facing camera and sensors to be housed within the display itself. But in the interim, and for the foreseeable future, Apple’s iPhone X is the best implementation of an edge-to-edge display, in my opinion.