iPhone 14 leak: Welcome aboard the hole punch train, Apple

Iphone 14 render
Iphone 14 render (Image credit: FrontPage Tech)

If you've bought a new Android phone in the past two or three years, chances are your phone has a hole in the display where the front-facing camera lives. If a leak is to be believed the iPhone 14 will finally get on board.

The Holey Grail of iPhones.

Yes, this is an Android website where you can learn all about the latest Android news and the best Android phones, and maybe even learn a thing or two you didn't know about how your phone does stuff. But here we are, and we're going to talk about the iPhone 14 and how Apple decided to copy borrow steal innovate copy the design of so many Android phones made by so many other companies.

First, in case you have no idea what I'm talking about, a leak suggests that the iPhone 14 — the model to be released next year — will forego the deep notch in favor of a central hole punch in the display. It will also be thicker to hide the camera bump and look a lot like a great big iPhone 4. Remember, this is a leak and not anything official. Sometimes leaks are wrong. Sometimes they are right. I have no idea if this particular leak will turn out to be true or false.

We expect to see new iPhones that closely resemble the current iPhone very shortly because that's how iPhones work. That and tiny little gnomes to power them. Or maybe it's powerful little processors. One of the two. The current iPhone looks a lot like the last iPhone, and that one looks a lot like the one before it. That's because Apple has been successful and sold a bajillion of the things. It has no reason to change the formula just for the sake of changing it.

Most iPhones look like the iPhone before it. Most.

Every few years, though, Apple does like to shake things up for a generation. Maybe it's making cheap ugly plastic iPhones that everyone hated. Maybe it's dropping the fingerprint sensor everyone loved. These aren't about the design; they are a byproduct. The iPhone X had such a god-awful Pixel 3 XL-esque bathtub notch because it needed to be there to house the Face ID tech Apple wanted to use. The iPhone 5c was plastic because it needed to be cheaper.

So why is now the time for a change? Maybe Apple found a new way to hide the Face ID stuff under the display and decided, "Gee, Samsung has it right. Let's steal that idea." That isn't as crazy as it seems, and the hole might just be the final evolution of the notch. Don't ask me because I still think an eighth-inch bezel is better than either. But I don't design phones and don't get to decide on their level of notchiness or number of holes.

Source: Android Central

The hole punch versus notch debate was silly, but because of how Android works, it was necessary. Every company that makes an Android phone is free to put notches or holes or even a combination of both (don't do it, Samsung) in the display because Google gives Android away without any rules about it. And on some of those phones, it was easy to see why a notch is bad and why a hole is equally bad: both can take away things you want to see.

More important than the notch or the hole is how little disruption it causes.

On the other hand, some companies can build in something like a hole into the software and have very little disruption. Think about how bad some phones from companies not called Samsung handled the placement of the interface compared to how the company that is named Samsung does it. See what I mean? On a Galaxy S or A or Z phone, the hole doesn't cover anything it shouldn't. You also don't have a giant notch that pushes things to the left, to the right, and down. A hole, in these cases, is a win.

iPhone 12 Pro Review

Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

Apple can see it's a win. Apple also has complete control over every bit of the iPhone interface and the apps installed on one. It can build the tools to build an app that "knows" if your iPhone has a notch or a hole, make rules about it all for the App Store, and force every single developer to follow them or be banished. Apple can do a hole the right way even better than Samsung can because it holds everything in a single iron fist.

Apple can copy Samsung and do it just as well, or even better.

Apple also knows that its customers have seen a new phone like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra with a better display that also has more usable space and less notch. Maybe nobody in Cupertino is saying it out loud, but the company knows it could make the change and make customers happier and even more likely to buy another new iPhone. It could even make old iPhones have a different colored bubble in iMessage to drive the point home. OK, even Apple wouldn't go that far.

Really, if this leak is real, this isn't something Apple just did on a whim. The software part is easy enough to sort out, and as long as the Face ID components can be shifted under the display, there is no reason for it to keep that big notch. We should know all the details in 13 months or so.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.