OnePlus 6 notch

OnePlus confirmed earlier this week that the OnePlus 6 will feature a cutout at the top of the display. The move ostensibly led to a lot of backlash, and OnePlus CEO Pete Lau took to the company's forums to discuss the decision, stating that the notch was borne out of a pursuit of "optimal phone design."

OnePlus realized it wasn't going to need the entire width of the bezel for the components, and it didn't want to switch the front camera away from a central position as it would affect the Face Unlock feature. Lau said the company even considered a pop-out camera along the lines of the Vivo Apex, but ultimately disregarded the idea as the technology was still in its infancy.

According to Lau, the notch also maximizes screen real estate, freeing up space at the top of the screen. Furthermore, Lau said that the display OnePlus selected for its upcoming flagship was already optimized for a notch-based design, making it easier to ramp up production.

Lau's reasoning makes sense from a business standpoint, but it's clear that the design of the OnePlus 6 will be a polarizing issue for its fans. Here's Pete Lau's forum post in its entirety.

Hey everyone,

Even among tech communities, the OnePlus Community is a little different. Through your tech-savviness and passion you hold us accountable for our decisions. In doing so, your help has been instrumental to our success. By now, most of you are aware that our next device will feature a cut-out near the top of the display, popularly known as a "notch". A fiery debate has sparked online, so we wanted to give you guys some insight into our rationale behind this product decision.

One of our biggest challenges as a smartphone manufacturer is to make the most out of every square inch of your device. A well-known principle in tech is that individual components become smaller with each passing year. Our role as a smartphone manufacturer is to maximize the use of the space we free up. Since our components no longer require the entire width of a top bezel, we focused our efforts on maximizing the amount of screen real estate. It's easy to get caught up in a debate on aesthetics, but to us this decision was simply about pursuing optimal phone design. Being able to offer more screen without compromising on size or performance is a great benefit. That said, we wanted to offer the biggest display possible without compromising on hardware, which is why we opted for the notch design.

A central placement is optimal for our front-facing camera for several reasons. Moving the module elsewhere would also affect the angle of the camera, making it harder to orient the camera and take photos quickly. Such a move would also compromise the speed and reliability of our industry-leading Face Unlock feature. We also considered using a smaller module, but decided not to as this would have lowered the quality of your photos. Other speculative technologies, such as a mechanical 'pop-out' camera, are currently in their infancy. While interesting, the technology is not at a stage where it can deliver on durability, speed and performance.

To offer our users the best possible viewing experience, we work with world-leading screen manufacturers. We prioritize three key considerations when implementing a new display. First, we look to maximize the viewable area. Through the notch, we can free up a considerable amount of space near the top of the display, absorbing the notification and status icons. At 19.616mm by 7.687mm, the notch occupies a minimal amount of space in the top-center part of the display. Our research has shown that the space occupied by the notch typically goes unused in standard use. The notch makes optimal use of the vacated space. You gain more viewable space, without losing anything.

Our second priority is display performance. Whether you're looking at brightness level, chromatic accuracy, or color range, there are a lot of factors that determine whether a display is comfortable to look at. Our displays have to match a wide range of requirements, before we consider them ready for market. We ultimately selected a display that matched all of our criteria. It was also optimized for a notch-based design, which we considered an additional benefit. The result is a screen with a larger viewable area and superior performance.

Finally, as our devices gain in worldwide popularity, we need to scale up production accordingly. That means using a display that is readily procurable is the only way we can keep up with global demand. This translates to fewer delays, faster shipping, and the ability to service more people. Our mission is to share the best technology with the world. We dedicated ourselves to implementing a display that is both scalable, while delivering a viewing experience that matches our quality standards. To grow into a sustainable business, we have to deliver a high quality experience on every level. In order to do so, we will continue to make use of any opportunity to improve the accessibility of our devices around the world.

We believe in offering our community the best possible smartphone experience. By listening to your opinions and feedback, we aim to design smartphones that meet your needs and standards. While many of you have asked us not to increase the physical size of our phones, others requested larger and more immersive displays. The notch helps us accomplish both requests. No two people have the same opinion on smartphone aesthetics. Our focus was to deliver the biggest and best screen we've ever had, without compromising on the tech you love. When all is said and done, that's what matters most.

Frequently Asked Questions

We know you guys have a lot of questions. Below you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we've seen.

Will the notch cut off my notifications if the status bar reaches a certain width?

OxygenOS will be optimized to work alongside the notch, ensuring you will always be able to view and access all of your notifications.

The notch cuts into the display, so the actual display size is smaller!

You actually get more screen. Thanks to the notch, we have managed to significantly increase our screen-to-body ratio. It's like booking an airplane seat with extra leg room, which is used to absorb the clock and status bar.

If you're integrating the front-facing camera, receiver, and LED light in the notch, why do you still need a chin?

A ribbon found at the bottom of each display connects the display to the internal hardware. This connection in itself demands the use of a bottom bezel. Our goal is to maximize the amount of real estate available to the user. So, we decided to reduce the size of the top bezel. The result is the largest viewable area we have ever produced.

The notch ruins my ability to enjoy movies and games. Can't you block out the notch through software?

We understand the need to tailor your experience to your personal preferences. That's why we have a compatibility mode on our next device. By setting this mode to individual apps, you are able to black out the sides of the notch when in landscape mode. We have tested compatibility mode with the 1000 most popular apps in the Play Store, and it works wonderfully.