What Even Is A Notch?

What Even Is A Notch?
Image: Getty

When it comes to mobile phone design the ‘notch’ has been on trend for the last few years. To say that its contentious is an understatement – a lot of people hate it.

But despite us ripping into it on reg here at Gizmodo, it was brought to our attention on Twitter that not everyone knows what a notch is. Let us explain.



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What Is It?

A notch is the cut-out that sits at the top of some modern phone screens. Sometimes it can look like a long horizontal strip, while other notches are a little less invasive, such as the tear drop shaped one on the Oppo R17 Pro.

A notch is generally home to the device’s front-facing camera, as well as any sensors that it might for things like Face ID.

Unlike phones of the past where a speaker would be present on the bezel, now they tend to be hidden between the frame and the display or under the display itself.

What’s The Point Of It?

Gone are the days of having a sizable border or bezel around a phone. Bezels have become the enemy when it comes to phones in recent years. Most phone manufacturers aim to make them as minimal as possible.

Image: Borders aren’t cool anymore

A notch allows for more screen real estate while also keeping a camera and sensors on the front of a device. The removal of the home button from iPhones is another example of how a larger display can be achieved.

Is It Here To Stay?

Probably not.

Phone tech is advancing rapidly – on-screen fingerprint unlocking is already in devices such as the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. It’s only a matter of time before all sensors and even a camera will be hidden within the display, allowing for completely borderless phones.

But while the notch may not be the end game, it will most likely continue to dominate the market for a few more years yet. Even Samsung, which has remained notchless thus far, announced four possible designs for its Infinity displays at its Developer Conference in November. We’re probably going to see one of them on the hotly anticipated Galaxy S10.

But hey – we could be wrong. Perhaps people will develop a thirst for the old school bezel and it will come back into fashion. I wouldn’t hold my breath though.