Opinion: Can Bezel-less Be Seen As a Breakthrough Innovation?
For the past three years, we have been seeing various innovations and improvement in the mobile industry, be it Foldable, struggle for Bezel–less, invisible cameras, new long-lasting batteries, to mention a few. However, can we now regard bezel-less as a way forward? While it will be a great deal to get rid of those unpleasant notches, the bezel-less vision should be pushed aside, too.
Some might see this as an unpopular opinion, but you just bear with me for a while. I was one time a fan of the all-screen phones myself. But having reviewed enough skinny bezel-less smartphones, I just can’t imagine myself with a true bezel-less phone – it will be a disaster.
How Bezel-less Begins
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Going back to 2016 and the Galaxy S7 edge. I was curious back then about this edge hype, dying to get my hands on one and indeed, the S7 edge was a beauty to behold. Incredible screen, impressive design, sophisticated execution.
But after a couple of touches and playing around with it, I became bothered by phantom touches. As it turned out the phone registered my palm most of the times misinterpreted my actions.
Was It Better On Galaxy S8?
Samsung was rather quick to crop up with palm rejection. It didn’t work at all for me, at first and even though the maker improved its algorithms a lot for the Galaxy S8, the 2017 flagship still wasn’t ideal. According some user’s report, their palm was always getting in the way and it was pretty annoying.
This should have been the first red flag for me, and the whole industry if you will. An edge-to-edge screen would always need palm rejection, but it’s just impossible do find the perfect one working for all people.
But these Galaxy issues disappeared from the news eventually. Not because they were solved – they are still present to some extent – but Samsung improved its algorithms just enough and we all grew used to this needy design.
Looking back at this S6 edge and S7 edge design issue, it’s really a “you are holding it wrong” thing through and through, but it never became touchgate. On the contrary, the edge became a trademark for all Samsung flagships.
What Of Xiaomi Mi Mix and Essential PH-1?
Fast-forwards a couple of months and the Mi Mix arrived. It was truly unique, breathtaking, and one of a kind. When Apple still had the bezel-heavy iPhone 7 as a flagship, the Mi Mix looked like a device from the future, previously seen only on the Hollywood’s sci-fi sets.
The Mix had a chin below its screen hiding the LCD controller, but also to make room for the selfie camera. And it worked for the best – while we had to stretch fingers for the things around the top of the screen, we the UI navigation keeps were easy to reach.
And the same goes for the Essential’s PH-1 – it had a similar screen with a tiny notch around the top for the selfie camera.
Apple’s iPhone Part On Bezel-less Introduction
Then, in 2017 Apple launched the iPhone X. It also had a notch, larger at that, but its OLED screen stretched top to bottom, left to right. Let’s forget for a minute about the notch invasion that followed. Even the awkward system gestures eventually stuck, and it is how you control the iOS today.
The iPhone X had a 5.8″ screen (not accounting for parts lost to rounded edges and notch), and it still required some finger stretching to swipe from the bottom or invoke the notification or control center from the top. It didn’t have issues with phantom touches due to its thicker frame.
iPhone XS Max in 2018
But 2018 is where I just stopped believing in the bezel-less concept. The iPhone XS Max introduced a larger screen and not having a chin is a bit of a nightmare for my thumb – every time a user needs to stretch it to close an app or summon the task switcher. Meanwhile one-handed access to the top of the phone became impossible.
And let’s not forget about that awful notch, which got in the away on pretty much every app and video.
How To Deal With This Necessary Evil
The best method I could come up was to squeeze the smartphone between my palms and support it from the back if I can – that was the only way to really enjoy the full screen, notch or no notch. But some of those phones have curved edges, polished and rounded frames, and sometimes the frame provided little to no grip. All these factors make dropping these very expensive glass devices very likely.
I shouldn’t have to struggle with my daily driver which also happens to double as my all-in-one multimedia device. I paid more than handsomely for it, and I should be able to simply enjoy it. Hassle-free.
But the whole industry is moving towards bezel-less phones. Even worse – those devices, and respectively – their frames – are getting thinner and tougher to hold. At the end, the slippery glass design is going nowhere.
Nobody can hold a bezel-less phone properly, hassle-free, and enjoy fully and uninterrupted, say, a movie. Add the finger-stretching and the struggle to hold it right, and we are on the path to disaster. No, actually we have arrived there, but we have accepted our fate.
Well, I don’t want to.
Innovation needs to happen and needs to happen fast. The good news is the companies have begun experimenting with phone designs again and even though it’s for the wrong reasons, I’m convinced something good will come out of it eventually. The pop-up parts have been tried, the sliders have returned, and Samsung will be announcing a foldable smartphone as soon as next month.
Meanwhile I would prefer a phone with bezels at the top and the bottom, which will allow me to go though my day hassle-free. Sony seems to get it though it has added trendy curves, Razer phones have nice bezels as well, even Samsung is still holding on, though not for long apparently. Here is hoping things will change for the better!
Now if you could please scroll back to the beginning of this article and take a second look at our lifestyle photos. Notice something? Most of the people holding those pictured phones were struggling to do it and it’s easy to tell by those awkwardly looking fingers. This needs to change.