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The week of endless notch takes no one cares about

There's been a lot of chatter about notches this week, which lives in a month and a year full of takes on display cut-outs. The people who aren't a fan of this display trend are plenty vocal, and as we've seen with the Pixel 3 XL leaks the size of the notch is directly related to just how vocal some of us can be. There's even talk of a grand conspiracy, that this notch couldn't possibly be real and Google's going to shock us all in New York next month.

All of this conversation is fascinating, but perhaps more interesting than the vocal rejection of this display design is how little said negativity has impacted adoption. I see notches everywhere these days, from just about every manufacturer. When I wander into a carrier store and listen to people selling phones, the notch almost never gets brought up. It's simply a thing that exists.

Having a giant phone is was worse than having a phone with a notch.

Some additional anecdotal evidence to throw your way, when I ask friends who buy phones without talking to me why they made this decision, the answer is almost always the same. The notch didn't matter, because the screen was bigger without making the phone bigger. There's no need to buy the phone you have to use with two hands when the display extends to the whole body of the phone. For these people in particular, having a giant phone is was worse than having a phone with a notch.

Folks who remember the last Pixel launch will remember the conversation surrounding bezels. The Pixel 2 XL seemed more popular in our comments and forums because the top and bottom bezels were dramatically reduced. Even with the early display problems found with the 2 XL, the larger size and resolution were things that seemed to be the things that mattered. This year, it seems like hardcore fans of Pixel phones are mixed. We've got the "no notch" folks much happier with the reduced bezels in the Pixel 3 renders, while throwing shade at the massive cut out on the Pixel 3 XL.

It's unlikely this conversation is going away anytime soon, and in my opinion that's a good thing. Samsung seems pretty happy to stick with its unique curved edge to edge display without a notch, while leaks seem to suggest Apple is about to go all in on its notch. OnePlus seems to be ready to distract from the notch with an in-display fingerprint scanner, while LG gives you the ability to hide the notch in software. There's no single approach to this experience, and no single cut-out design everyone can agree on. It's a small, and perhaps largely symbolic, thing which makes a lot of different phones in an otherwise homogenous landscape appear unique, and I like that.

Meanwhile, we here at Android Central have a fun week coming up!

  • Qualcomm is finally moving the rest of the smartwatch industry forward. I'm going to go ahead and guess out loud that planning its event right before Apple most likely refreshes its watch is no accident. But remember, it'll probably be a while before anything with this new processor is shipping.
  • Speaking of Apple, I'm honestly not sure what to expect. This is an "s" year for Apple, which historically has meant a fairly iterative update. But with the iPhone X, the rules as we knew them kind of got thrown out the window. Should be fun, and of course our friends at iMore are already on the ground.
  • Those of you who are fans of our PlayStation 4 content are going to have a lot to read this week. SO many games are launching this month and next, it's going to be a lot of fun to see everyone's thoughts on all of this new stuff.
  • My very public loathing for the way Epic Games is handling Fortnite on Android has not stopped it from earning 15 Million downloads since launch, which speaks volumes to how insanely popular this game is around the world.
  • I get why this exists, but Fortnite Monopoly? Seriously?
  • The new season of Iron Fist is way better than the first.

That's all from me this week. Have a good one!

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter

45 Comments
  • I choose to hold off on the notch. Still good with my Moto X4 Android One, even though it is very small.
  • "how little said negativity has impacted adoption." Well, some of the blame can be put on the lack of integrity of reviewers (where Android Central is very much included these days) that pretend the notch isn't there or brush it off instead of pointing out how stupid a design and how worse an experience a phone with it gives. And it gives you a worse experience unless you're a lonely little person whose only ever notification is from spam emails. 'cause more than 3 notifications and the notch renders your notification bar useless. As for anecdotal evidence, well, I could present you with the exact opposite of it. Apart from a couple of iSheep (and those went with the iPhone X which, despite having a notch, never had a notification/status bar anyway so the experience was only made worse design-wise), I know a lot of people who went and specifically bought phones that did NOT have a notch because they didn't want it as they found it off-putting.
    And if you notice marketing materials, in markets like Europe, notched Android phones are seldom advertised with the notch on display. Because most people hate it and seeing it on marketing does makes it worse. Fortunately, the largest most relevant Android OEM has publicly and constantly rejected the idiotic notch.
    I'll just love to see, once Apple ditches the notch (and they will, oh they will), how everyone will suddenly remember that the notch is stupid design. ___________ - I'm actually pretty happy to see the success of Fortnite (I game I couldn't care less about) outside the Google Play Store. Anything that threatens Google's dominance over how Android works is good in my book. Epic Games showing there are alternatives to the Play Store - which can lead us eventually to the growth of alternative stores and as a result, the lack of need for phones filled with Google bloatware - is an awesome thing.
  • I remember you from windows central dj. I won't be doing a phone with a notch as long as there is an alternative supporting Verizon. I'm perfectly content with how my moto g6 is laid out except I wish the fingerprint scanner located on the back of the phone. Other than that I good.
  • I'm indifferent to the notch. My two current daily drivers are the OnePlus 6 and the Note 9. I literally forget which one of the two has it. It's that irrelevant.
  • "I literally forget which one of the two has it."
    Lol, no you didn't :D
  • I'm happy with my notch-less S7. It'll stay that way until it breaks or something else is made.
  • « iPhone X which, despite having a notch, never had a notification/status bar anyway so the experience was only made worse design-wise«  No better, the notch was on the statut bar so making room for real usable screen... and the design is great imo. Still the notch even on android is way better than what samsung is doing with its edge screens...
  • If I want a phone with a notch, I'd buy an iPhone X. I don't want notches on my Android devices. BTW, when I had an iPhone X for 10 months before getting my Note 9, I didn't think the notch added that much more screen real estate. It just looked like a phone that was designed poorly. I was reminded of the notch every damn time I was watching content--whether it was YouTube, DirecTV Now, or Amazon Prime Video. It looked like my dog took a bite out of the display and it was an eyesore. Would you want to watch TV with a notch taken out of the left or right side of the display? Of course not. We shouldn't put up with it on our phones. I'll never purchase a notched device again. It's stupid and unnecessary.
  • I've been saying this for a while. I don't look at it as a screen with extra real estate, but a screen with a notch in it, which is exactly what it is and what everyone calls it. And just like you said, imagine it on a TV, a tablet, a laptop ot the monitor for your desktop. None of that $hit would ever sell.
  • I guess it's a glass half full or half empty thing. I'm more of a glass half full type of person so I see more screen real estate while glaaa half empty people see it as an ugly notch.
  • I have never seen a notch that big. It's beyond ridiculous, wow-we!
  • If Google cakes the Pixel 3 in s**t, some people would still try n convince us it's the best!
  • The OnePlus 6T looks like the first phone notch that wouldn't bother me.
  • It's definitely the most tolerable notch of the bunch.
  • The hysteria over the notch has been a comical read. I went from being concerned to not really caring. Having now seen close up views from what seems like a hundred leaks, it looks fine. Don't like the notch, don't buy one. Problem solved. I'm still on the fence between the two versions over battery size.
  • Agreed!
  • Excellent advice. As for me - I'll pass. No notch.
  • Same here. They look so bad.
  • The notch doesn't bother you? How about you take a chunk out of the left or right side of your TV while watching it and then we'll see if you feel the same way.
  • While doing that will I be adding screen I'd otherwise not have? Will I be able to put information on that additional screen real estate that would otherwise be taking space where the content I'm watching goes? If so, I'd take a notch on the TV just as well as my phone.
  • I have an iPhone X and an HTC U12+. I use both daily and the notch doesn't really bother me either way. The notch cuts out very little video content. I do prefer watching video on my U12+, but it's because the screen is slightly larger and has much better speakers. The lack of a notch has nothing to do with it.
  • Notch or no notch doesn't matter to me, what matters is how do the rest of the features add up on the device I'm looking for. I won't let a notch get in the way.
  • Still trying to figure out how game console articles are relevant here.
  • They're absolutely not relevant.
  • But they make me happy
  • And that's all that matters. 😉
  • Mmm... I love notches... With salsa, jalapenos and cheese... I'm not keen on guacamole, though it is possible I've just never had good stuff.
  • Don't forget the sour cream
  • Guacamole, done right, is great. I could take a spoon and eat it straight! Of course, I also will slice up an avacodo and make it a snack, so I'm biased, lol.
  • You people are so funny! Viva la notch! 😎
  • Whoever think having a bigger phone is worst than a notch is a liar and poor reason for the notch.The notch is one of the worst design in smart phone history. The essential phone might be the only one that get a slight pass, since it's not as hideous , ugly and unbearable like many. The notch remind me of folks going bald and trying to hold on to a ponytail. It's just ugly no matter how you swing it or reasons used to justify having it.
  • You forgot to add "IMO".
  • You know, using the exact same font size, you can fit more text on the U11 than you can on the Essential phone.
  • Sorry disagree, I've got a Honor Note 10, 6.99 inch screen & no notch, thank you... You can actually have your notch and eat it too!!! I do not, will not accept the notion that a bigger screen, no bezel HAS to have the notch! No b it doesn't! Kind regards Richard U.K
  • That's a gigantic phone. The Note 9 is the absolute largest I'd go for.
  • The only notched piece of trash I see are iPhones. Hopefully people really are avoiding notches on Android phones.
  • I'm thinking this notch phase is only going to last a couple years. Actually I'm hoping LoL
  • The notch is really not a big deal. Not having it won’t give you more usable screen estate. On the opposite you get more room for content, the notch being just in the way of the otherwise useless statut bar. It only takes place for some statut on this bar on Android , which is not that bad
  • I don't like them because google has such amateur engineers they had to design Android in such a way that even if you don't have a notch you're stuck with a UI that thinks you have a notch. The clock on the left and cut off notifications is so dumb on phones without a notch. Had they actually put a half brain cell into the design of the UI and given us the option to keep a notchless UI I would have less of a problem with notches since I could avoid them and the compromises they bring. Instead I am using a Pixel 2 Google phone but sitting on Oreo since the UI is a thousand times better than the UI of Pie.
  • As long as iPhone does it, the Android phone manufacturers will be happy to keep doing it. Simple. More rational reason: Those sensors and camera has to go somewhere whilst keeping the sense of an infinity screen.
    Unfortunately they aren't ready to adopt the Mi Mix M2, Oppo Find X, or Nex S route until it's fully tried and tested. Until iPhone does it. lol
  • I rode my bike into an alley when I was a kid, and it was when a business was closing and their attack dogs were outside the door. I tried to stop but slid into them, and you know what? I eventually forgot about the notch in my leg. You just have to get used to it, even if it hurts now and then. Of course, I would have preferred not getting the notch in the first place ;) PS: True story, and I can pinpoint the place in Google Maps where I got "notched", lol.
  • Regarding Apple and the "S" version: They have often had the SOC upgraded to the next version, but I'm not sure if they will do that this time. If they do, at least there won't be a list of phones taking it's lunch money like the A12, and I'm sure they will say it's another 200% faster without any proof whatsoever except a solitary synthetic benchmark. I would like to have a smart watch, but it's not to the point where there's good enough battery life and a design that's not bulky... on the Android side. Apple has the design pared down to an acceptable size, but battery life is still an issue. I can either hammer my phone hard and still go more than a day, or baby it to make 5 days on one charge, but with a watch, you can't stretch it that far.
  • I was very against them. Used the p20 pro, never really noticed the notch. I guess I was wrong. The way the iPhone x implemented it was a disaster for video watching, but they seem to be ok on Android.
  • You know, that was what stood out to me; the big chunk out of your movies. It was the reason we went with the iPhone 8 instead of the X on the iOS side of the house. It's better on Android, but I still love my notchless U11. The P20 Pro is killer... hope you enjoy it!
  • If the Pixel XL 3 is a success, the notch will be here to stay. It's not an issue till it affects the bottom line. Then, and only then, they will take to focus groups and forums to see where they went wrong. Until then, we are just practicing our complaining about it. :-)