Android players are copying iPhone X’s notch-screen and the trend is here to stay
Android players launching Apple iPhone-inspired features is not a new trend. But they are now launching iPhone X-like notch-screen phones. And looks like the trend is here to stay.
Full-screen phones, popularly known as bezel-less phones, became a hot trend in 2017 which is now most probably going to be a standard in coming smartphones this year.
The biggest push to the full-screen phones came when Apple joined the bandwagon with its iPhone X. The smartphone achieves an impressive 82.9% screen-to-body ratio. The catch, however, is that Apple is able to do so by adding a notch on the front panel.
The notch on Apple iPhone X is not just for the sake of vanity. It comprises of multiple sensors, which enable a high security Face ID feature that allows users to not just unlock the phone by looking at the screen but also authenticate payments.
Apple had to adjust its software features and add new gestures for the new screen format, which is quite a departure from even its latest iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.
The problem, however, is that the notch isn't great for the user experience. It's omnipresent on the phone and is more of an acquired taste. Now that a lot of applications including Facebook and WhatsApp have been optimised for the notch screen on iPhone, it's relatively better to use.
Notches are here to stay
Regardless how much you loathe the notch-screens, looks like the trend is here to stay. One of the first major companies to join the notch-screen bandwagon is Asus. The company at the recently concluded Mobile World Congress (MWC 2018) launched a new Zenfone 5 smartphone. And the smartphone unapologetically has iPhone X-like notch on the screen. Asus says its notch is smaller than iPhone X's and higher screen-to-body ratio than Apple's anniversary special smartphone.
Dinesh Sharma, Director Mobile Product Center for Asus India, said, "The Zenfone 5 and 5Z are 'following a trend of' of having a notch display that provides the maximum possible amount of screen area by providing a small notch of bay the LED indicator, speaker, sensors and front camera. This display allows us to put a 6.2-inch panel into the body of a 5.5-inch smartphone. We are among the first android smartphones to have a notch display. With the new design from Asus the size of the notch has been further narrowed as compared to erstwhile implementation by others."
"Also, as per our healthy relationship with Google, the Zenfone 5 has been designed to take advantage of upcoming versions of Android that is expected to support this trend of notch displays," he added.
Dinesh is referring to Android's upcoming iteration "Android P" which brings native support for the notch aka cut-outs on the display. The first developer preview of Android P elaborates how OEMs in the future can leverage the support from Android and implement their own versions of the notch.
"Android P offers support for the latest edge-to-edge screens with display cutout for camera and speaker. The new Display Cutout class lets you find out the location and shape of the non-functional areas where content shouldn't be displayed. To determine the existence and placement of these cutout areas, use the getDisplayCutout() method," said Google on its developer website.
At the moment, developers can create and even optimise an application by simulating a display with a cutout on the front.
Not just Asus
With Android's native support for notch-screens, Asus will not be the only Android player to offer notch-screen phones for a longer time. Apart from Asus, a relatively lesser known brand Leagoo recently launched Leagoo S9, a blatant copy of Apple iPhone X.
According to rumours, the likes of OnePlus and LG are expected to offer a notch-display in their future flagship smartphones. Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S and Vivo V9 are also rumoured to sport the notch on their phone. Oppo F7 is speculated to sport the same.
Android notches, but why?
It's not the first time Android players have embraced a trend kick started by Apple. It may be recalled that the fingerprint sensor on a phone was introduced by Apple with iPhone 5S in 2013. Shortly after Android players joined the bandwagon only to make the technology available to a wider number of people. Today you can grab a phone with a fingerprint sensor in India for as low as ₹5,000 or even lower.
A similar trend happened when Android players enabled software-based face unlock feature on their phones. For instance, OnePlus offers Face Unlock on its OnePlus 5T and even older OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 3T phones. The technology brings convenience for users but overlooks the security aspects. Most probably, people are fine with that as it doesn't hinder the overall user experience.
But in case of a notch-screen, Android players aren't looking to provide a cutting-edge technology by tweaking the screen, like Apple iPhone X. Instead it's more about who gets the highest screen-to-body ratio.
Parv Sharma, an analyst at Counterpoint Research, said, "iPhone X has sophisticated hardware in the notch, which is required from the face unlock and other features. Apple has tight control over its ecosystem so it can do changes which are not possible for any other ecosystem."
"Considering the popularity of iPhone X, users are now attracted towards the notch display. However, Android notches are merely copy of the iPhone notch without any sophisticated hardware. Instead of having a dummy notch, OEMs could have neglected and offered more screen to body ratio. The OEMs must continue to focus on R&D in order to stand out in the vastness of Android smartphones."
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