Apple is turning a design quirk into the iPhone X’s defining feature: Leaning into the notch

“Now, after 10 years of the home button and big bezels, Apple is giving us something new. The notch. The monobrow. The annoying black protrusion getting in the way of your photos and videos,” Vlad Savov writes for The Verge. “However you choose to see the black cutout housing sensors at the top of the new iPhone X, you will most definitely see it. And Apple wants it that way.”

“Instead of trying to design its way around the notch — which could have been done by distributing the iPhone X sensors more widely in a slimmer, full-width top bezel — Apple chose to have it there,” Savov writes. “Apple took a design limitation and decided to lean into it: as with the Essential Phone’s signature camera cutout, the iPhone X sensor array is cut out from the screen deliberately and purposefully.”

“The company, widely recognized for being the best at marketing its products, is now giving the world another universally recognizable feature (and an amusing pun) in its top-notch design,” Savov writes. “Even on the most minimalist iPhone that Apple has ever designed, there’s a little departure from the norm to give it a signature Apple look.”

Read more in the full article here.

“Some say ‘Steve Jobs would have never let that happen,’ while others have mocked it by creating a “notch mode” for Chrome that adds a black cut-out to every YouTube video,” Tom Warren writes for The Verge. “There’s a mix of surprise, sarcasm, and intrigue that Apple has chosen to go with a screen layout that leads to design compromises.”

“While Apple isn’t hiding this notch like it has done with some hardware features before, it’s not fully embracing it in software either. The iPhone X renders webpages with white bars on the side if you’re using it in landscape orientation,” Warren writes. “And the scroll bar literally disappears behind the notch as you move down a webpage.”

“Many games will simply have a section missing thanks to the new display, and some apps that go fullscreen (into the status bar area) will also have a black section. Thankfully, movies and photos won’t fill the entire screen by default — they’ll require a double-tap to extend into the notch and status bar area,” Warren writes. “Apple is hiding the notch in some ways, though. If you take a screenshot on the iPhone X, for example, then iOS 11 simply ignores the existence of the cut-out, as you’d expect.”

“Apple’s quest to build a full-screen iPhone means that the notch is here to stay. At least until it can figure out how to embed all those sensors under the display. The screen-cut-out trend started with the Essential Phone, and Apple has now thrust this design into the mainstream,” Warren writes. “It will likely be something you’ll learn to ignore in daily use, so if you’re an iOS fan prepare to get used to having parts of your display missing if you want the latest and greatest iPhone.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Unapologetically notched. Again, it’s an “inelegant kludge.” If Apple could’ve embedded the sensors behind/into the display they most certainly would have done so.

For more than a decade, our intention has been to make an iPhone that is all display. A physical object that disappears into the experience. — Jony Ive, September 12, 2017

We’re not there yet, so Apple is making some lemonade.

The iPhone X’s nasty notch is certainly a design compromise (see below), but rather than try to hide it (and likely fail), Apple chose to embrace it (à la the iPhone 5C’s “unapologetically plastic” marketing). You take your most glaring weakness and celebrate it as a feature. Marketing 101.

SEE ALSO:
The lessons and questions of Apple’s iPhone X and iPhone 8 – September 13, 2017
Apple embraces that ugly notched cutout in OLED ‘iPhone’s display – August 30, 2017
It’s time we embraced Apple’s notched/cutout OLED iPhone display – August 11, 2017
Apple patent reveals embedded Touch ID for fingerprint recognition anywhere on display – October 4, 2016
Apple granted key U.S patent for Touch ID fingerprint recognition integrated into Multi-Touch display – May 18, 2016
Apple supplier LG Innotek embeds fingerprint sensor into display – May 4, 2016
3D fingerprint sensors under Gorilla Glass may let Apple kill iPhone’s Home button – July 21, 2015
Apple working on eliminating the Home button on iPhone, iPad, sources say – June 22, 2015
Apple files for patent to move Touch ID fingerprint scanner from home button to display – February 9, 2015

17 Comments

  1. @MDN Take…

    Completely disagree. As with the Home button, the notch will allow the iPhone’s sillouhette stand apart from competing phones. Furthermore, it is easily masked by blackening the display on either side.

    1. According to Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines, they are “encouraging” developers to not hide the notch. How this plays out in terms of app store rejections remains to be seen.

    1. I can immediately tell which end is up via the side buttons, thanks. I don’t need an ugly black notch that obscures content. MDN is right, as usual: It’s an inartful kludge.

  2. The notch is really a non-issue. The required sensors were the cards Apple engineers were dealt. This was a necessary solution—elegant or not. A week after their release we won’t hear much about it again until Apple or others develop the tech to hide the sensors under the screen.

  3. Sorry, but I really believe Steve would never had gone with this design. He valued beauty over most other considerations. He would have just waited another year until they could do it right. I need to upgrade my iPhone 6, but I am very disappointed with the notch.

  4. It’s beyond ghastly. They could of easily blacked-out the top of the display and designed the phone to have a matching bezel or blacked-out the bottom of the display area for symmetry. I was shocked at the sloppy design of the 6 series, but the X design is beyond infuriating because the botch hides controls and content. Does anybody at Apple test daily use?

      1. R2, thank you for the enlightening link. Agree you do not need an extra bezel at the bottom.

        From the linked article: “New iPhone 8 renders published by Forbes show how iOS could use this space to seamlessly integrate the status bar.”

        Check out the stunning link visuals. Seamless, elegant and beautiful bezel less display!

        I simply cannot believe Apple did not see this coming. Hubris or design arrogance — take your pick. Certainly NOT design genius. They collectively colluded and more importantly DELUDED, their staff and now an obvious defensive attempt to expand their delusion to consumers. Not buying it, Apple. Not now, not EVER.

        Not to early to get back to the drawing board and Apple should at the very least consider hiring the concept render artists in the linked article. Painfully obvious they did a much better job than Sir Jonathan …

      2. The Forbes render is 1000% better than the poorly thought out design Apple released. Hire that guy and fire Ive. That would save millions in executive compensation too.

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