The Verge reviews Apple’s iPhone X: Clearly the best iPhone ever made, despite being marred by its ugly notch

“The iPhone X is finally here. Apple says it’s a complete reimagining of what the iPhone should be, 10 years after the original revolutionized the world,” Nilay Patel writes for The Verge. “Of course, there’s the notch in the display — what Apple calls the ‘sensor housing.’ It’s ugly, but it tends to fade away after a while in portrait mode. It’s definitely intrusive in landscape, though. It makes landscape in general pretty messy. Less ignorable are the bezels around the sides and bottom of the screen, which are actually quite large. Getting rid of almost everything tends to draw attention to what remains, and what remains here is basically a thick black border all the way around the screen, with that notch set into the top.”

“Unfortunately, the top of the display is marred by that notch, and until a lot of developers do a lot of work to design around it, it’s going to be hard to get the most out of this screen. I mean that literally: a lot of apps don’t use most of the screen right now,” Patel writes. “Apps that haven’t been updated for the iPhone X run in what you might call ‘software bezel’ mode: huge black borders at the top and bottom that basically mimic the iPhone 8. And a lot of apps aren’t updated yet: Google Maps and Calendar, Slack, the Delta app, Spotify, and more all run with software bezels. Games like CSR Racing and Sonic the Hedgehog looked particularly silly. It’s fine, but it’s ugly, especially since the home bar at the bottom of the screen glows white in this mode. Apps that haven’t been specifically updated for the iPhone X, but use Apple’s iOS autolayout system will fill the screen, but wacky things happen: Dark Sky blocks out half the status bar with a hardcoded black bar of its own, Uber puts your account icon over the battery indicator, and the settings in the Halide camera app get obscured by the notch and partially tucked into the display’s bunny ears.”

Alrighty then.
Alrighty then.

 
“Apps that have been updated for the iPhone X all have different ways of dealing with the notch that sometimes lead to strange results, especially in apps that play video. Instagram Stories don’t fill the screen; they have large gray borders on the top and bottom. YouTube only has two full-screen zoom options, so playing The Last Jedi trailer resulted in either a small video window surrounded by letter- and pillar-boxing or a full-screen view with the notch obscuring the left side of the video. Netflix is slightly better, but you’re still stuck choosing between giant black borders around your video or the notch,” Patel writes. “Landscape mode on the iPhone X is generally pretty messy: the notch goes from being a somewhat forgettable element in the top status bar to a giant interruption on the side of the screen, and I haven’t seen any apps really solve for it yet. And the home bar at the bottom of the screen often sits over the top of content, forever reminding you that you can swipe to go home and exit the chaos of landscape mode forever. I’m sure all of this will get solved over time, but recent history suggests it might take longer than Apple or anyone would like; I still encounter apps that aren’t updated for the larger iPhone 6 screen sizes. 3D Touch has been around for years, but I can’t think of any app that makes particularly good use of it.”

“The iPhone X is clearly the best iPhone ever made. It’s thin, it’s powerful, it has ambitious ideas about what cameras on phones can be used for, and it pushes the design language of phones into a strange new place,” Patel writes. “It is a huge step forward in terms of phone hardware, and it has the notch to show for it. If you’re one of the many people who preordered this thing, I think you’ll be happy…”

Tons more in the full review – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: Notchtastic™!

Apple made the wrong choice with the notch. It’s bad design to ask the world’s developers to design around a flap occluding the display.

The good news is that Apple can fix this in the software (of course, the few developers who’ve already designed around Apple’s abomination will have further work to do). Apple should reserve the “bunny ears” portion of the screen to display cell and Wi-Fi signal strength, time, battery, and whatever else they want to use it for on a deep black background – with corner arcs that match the iPhone X’s other corners – into which the black bank of sensors comprising the notch will simply disappear.

Apple owns the notch’s bunny ears and the developers get all the rest.

Simplicity is the hallmark of great design, but Apple’s current notch design “solution” is anything but simple. It’s “ugly,” “messy,” and it “mars” an otherwise gorgeous device.

 

iPhone X notch un-botched by Forbes' Gordon Kelly and Nodus
iPhone X notch un-botched by Forbes’ Gordon Kelly and Nodus

SEE ALSO:
Above Avalon’s first impressions of Apple’s iPhone X: ‘An entirely new iPhone experience’ – October 31, 2017
Apple reminds developers to design around iPhone X’s notch – October 28, 2017
We’ll get used to iPhone X’s ugly notch, even if we don’t end up liking it – October 23, 2017
Sloppiness: Apple’s inconsistent iPhone X design guides show attention to detail is no longer a priority – October 13, 2017
It’s not all screen: Apple’s stretching the truth with iPhone X marketing – October 3, 2017
Joshua Topolsky: Apple is really bad at design – October 1, 2017
Apple’s botched ‘notch’ atop iPhone X’s display is a design abomination – September 15, 2017
Apple is turning a design quirk into the iPhone X’s defining feature: Leaning into the notch – September 14, 2017
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

24 Comments

  1. Disagree completely.

    That would be a Samsung phone. The iPhone X has personality, and Apple made the right choice to “embrace” the notch rather than trying to hide it like you guys are repeatedly suggesting.

    1. Personality? That would imply some uniqueness.

      Say “hello” to China’s innovative and oh-so-unique Android-based Hotwav Symbol S3:

    2. Totally agree!

      If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. If you bought one and don’t want one, send it back.

      Stop with the stupid, “I am better designer than Apple”, bullcrap. Cos you ain’t.

      By the way, it is not a notch, it is two extra ears.

    3. They always complain that Samsung copies Apple and now they want Apple to copy Samsung with a black strip at the top – I like the notch and everyone will know what phone you have!

  2. The stupid thing is that if they’re using the areas either side of the notch as the ‘menu bar’ it gives less space than existing models which can use the whole width. From what I’ve seen the guidelines seem to broadly be to leave it as blank space and keep all content away from it which make it essentially the same as having a bezel, albeit it’s now one that changes colour.

  3. Notch is a great design and an asset. Do you think Apple with all it’s design finess will carelessly make the notch? They didn’t have to but they did. You will be able to instantly recognize it.

    That notch is a well thoughtout “invention”. It boldly, beautifully, seamlessly and simply defines the cohesiveness of the screen and the device.

    1. Simply put, Mr. Duster, Apple should put boil-like bumps all of the chassis of the next phone, as it will be “instantly recognized”. They will feel so wonderful in the hand…a “great invention.” The boils will “boldly, beautifully” (who doesn’t like a nicely shaped boil…and the feel!) and “simply define” the “cohesiveness” of the chassis.
      To be a little rude, rationalization, like yours, are so lacking in concrete, rational and valuable thinking, I’d be embarrassed if I wrote it. People like me that “beat this dead horse” are due some criticism for continuing to rail on the topic, but the effort is to point to the clear fact, “the notch, as asset” thinkers (how absurd on it’s face) aren’t speaking from art/design tenants, but from point of view that remains a mystery for me. Humor me a little and lay out a few points giving substance of your last sentence. It’s a statement that might emerge from a intellectually-reaching art student’s mouth that would set-up a BIG how/why from the professor. Btw, reviewers have called this a “flaw, a consequence, a distraction, an Area 51”, amongst others. Should I step out an assume they’re more qualified to review than you? Assuming yes, I’ll refute your assumption that Apple brought the notch to the fore as part of their ideal plan.

  4. MDN — you are dillusionally knee jerk. Nilay at the Verge reviewed the Apple Watch with a leather spike bracelet. I repeat, a leather spike bracelet. He then subsequently complained how the Milanese loop looked ugly. Huh?!

    Super obvious that the folks at MDN do not know design. The notch gives a distinction to the iPhone in an otherwise crowded Android market where all bezel-less devices look uniform. The notch is also functional. It allows for different menus to be access depending which side you swipe down from.

    1. “Delusionally.”

      As for “distinction,” see China’s innovative and oh-so-unique Android-based Hotwav Symbol S3. Expect many, many more to follow, thereby obliterating the “distinction” of Apple’s bad design choice.

    2. dpodisho…use the word “distinction” like it means something related to Good design, please. To parse words, a distraction can be a distinction, right? The Note 7 rose to a high level of distinction last year as linked to fire. The distinction shortened the market life of the phone. As a distraction, it wasn’t a good kind of distinction. When you watch a movie, do you move the chair that might be in your sight path? Or, do you like to watch a movie with a woman’s big hair blocking your view…(ref to a review yesterday)? I’m sure you’re good at something, but fortifying a design argument–not so much.

  5. I was actually thinking outside the notch on this one, rather than see the notch as encroaching on the screen, how about looking at the extra screen space now available on either side?

    1. They’ll just have to find some way of developing an active display that works like those window ads on buses that you can see from outside but only looks like tint from inside.

  6. “iPhone X notch un-botched by Forbes’ Gordon Kelly and Nodus” seems to be the best way that apple could have worked out the notch.
    “… reserve the “bunny ears” portion of the screen to display cell and Wi-Fi signal strength, time, battery, and whatever else they want to use it for on a deep black background – with corner arcs that match the iPhone X’s other corners“ – this is exactly what Apple should have done. AMAZED they did not do this.

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