- Apple’s iPhone X from 2017 was one of the first major smartphones with a “notch,” or a cut-out at the top center of the phone.
- Over a year later, most Android phones feature notches of their own.
- Notches are a compromise – a result of smartphone makers wanting to make edge-to-edge displays while also including front-facing cameras and sensors for facial recognition-based security systems.
- Samsung appears to have come up with a solution to the notch in its next phone, the Galaxy S10, which is rumoured to feature an edge-to-edge display and a less-intrusive cut-out for the selfie camera.
The current “Notch Era” is one of the most unfortunate chapters in smartphone history.
While you could argue smaller players like the Essential Phone started the trend, it was Apple that popularised the notch when it unveiled its first $US1,000 smartphone, the radically-designed iPhone X, in 2017.
While the notch allows for gorgeous edge-to-edge displays and front-facing camera systems that can unlock your phone, it’s still an imperfection. If the goal is to make an all-screen smartphone, the notch isn’t it.
Some smartphone makers are rightfully trying to find solutions to the notch problem. And thankfully, one of those players is Samsung, currently the biggest smartphone maker in the world.
On January 3, prolific gadgets-leaker Evan Blass posted a couple of images to Twitter, claiming to show off the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
People are calling Samsung’s selfie-camera solution the “hole punch,” as opposed to the “notch.” Samsung calls it its “Infinity-O” display, and it’s already a feature on the Galaxy A8s smartphone (not sold in the US).
The Infinity-O design may be off-putting to some, since the uncentered camera effectively makes the phone asymmetrical, which isn’t very pretty. But in practice, this could actually be a brilliant move.
First of all, very few phones use the space in the top corners of the screen. That area is usually filled up with notification icons, or stats like the time and battery life.
It’s also a big plus that the hole-punch camera cut-out on the Galaxy S10 would be small. Notches are bad enough to begin with, but they’re made worse by smartphone makers that don’t make them as small as possible. (We’re looking at you, Google Pixel 3 XL.)
Putting the camera cut-out in the corner has another benefit: When you’re watching videos, there’s a great chance the hole-punch won’t cut into your content. Meanwhile, the notch on my iPhone X will cut into every single video I watch in landscape mode.
Apparently, the hole-punch camera will also have another nifty feature: It can glow. According to prolific gadgets leaker “Ice Universe,” the Galaxy S10 may be able to manipulate the display pixels surrounding the camera to create a digital light ring effect, so you’ll always know where to look when it’s time to unlock your phone or take a selfie.
For what it’s worth, the Galaxy S10 might not be the only phone with a hole-punch camera cut-out. Ice Universe suggests this could be an upcoming trend.
Of course, these are all just rumours at this point, so it’s important to take all of this information with a grain of salt. That said, Evan Blass and Ice Universe are two of the best people at what they do, and it would make sense to start seeing Galaxy S10 leaks as Samsung usually announces its annual flagship phone toward the end of February.
We’re expecting Samsung to debut the Galaxy S10 at Mobile World Congress 2019, which is being held from February 25-28.
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