There seems to be a disturbing trend occurring right before our eyes – the notch on the Apple iPhone X is starting to show up on some Android smartphones. One has to ask why this is happening, especially since the notch is of no value in the function department or in its curb appeal. This is a trend which manufacturers will hopefully stop replicating as they should take their design inspiration from Samsung, not Apple. Android is different from Apple for a reason – freedom to select different model phones with an open operating system where customization is key - and with no notches.
The new Apple iPhone X was available the first part of November 2017, and it was met with immediate criticism from Apple and Android users due to the use of the notch at the top of the display. Apple claimed they needed it in order to implement their 3D facial recognition feature, but Apple could certainly have made the black or notched area go all the way across the device. Critics claim it cuts into the main display, that it's awkward looking, and that it makes the overall display smaller, even if the app developers stay within Apple’s designated “safe zone.” Now, Apple iPhone X users are saying the notch is ‘no big deal’ or now they ‘prefer the notch.’ All of a sudden, the hate has turned into a selling point saying that the notch is a ‘fashion statement’ and a way for ‘Apple to separate itself from Android.’ The notch is the latest and greatest from Apple, and that is what their buyers want. It is that same logic that keeps Apple users from buying an Android phone – even if it is the superior device.
The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus just arrived at MWC 2018 - take a look at the picture above and notice the curved edges and the small top and bottom bezels. On Android phones, bezels were disappearing along with home buttons, and navigation buttons showing up on the display only when needed. Our fingerprint sensors are disappearing from the front and moving to the back of the device. More biometrics are being added to use facial recognition and/or iris scanning as a means to unlock your device. Samsung is working hard to include a fingerprint sensor under the display and we may even see it show up on the Note 9 due out this fall. Stereo speakers are now using a speaker on the bottom of the device rather on the lower front while the earpiece does double duty for the other speaker. These are Android trends – practical ideas, not a notch in the display.
However, it is clear from MWC 2018 in Barcelona that some Android manufacturers were indeed using a notch on their new models. Some were smaller or different shapes from clone manufacturers like Leagoo, Noa, Vinci, and Ulephone. But some big name manufacturers, like ASUS with the ZenFone 5 (shown above), were a dead ringer for the iPhone X and even LG is considering the notch on its G7. The Huawei P20 is also sporting a notch, albeit a smaller notch, but why use it at all.
Marcel Campos, head of global marketing operations at ASUS said, “Some people will say it’s copying Apple, but we cannot get away from what users want…you have to follow trends.” However, is it really a trend or is ASUS helping to promote it as a trend. Just because Apple uses it on one phone it suddenly becomes a trend, or is it more a brand recognition issue. Is ASUS trying to increase their sales by using the notch so when an ASUS user pulls their ZenFone 5 out of their pocket, people around them will think it is an iPhone X?
Remember the saying, 'If Johnny jumps off a bridge, would you follow him,' well the same applies in this situation Just because Apple decides to use a notch in their display, does that mean Android manufacturers have to use one too. The answer is a resounding, "No.' If Apple wants to use the notch to differentiate themselves from Android devices, then let them. This is the same Apple that refused to sell a large display, whose small battery needed constant recharging, and up until the iPhone X, still used huge bezels, a home button, and just introduced wireless charging. The trend in smartphones is to copy high end models, but only copy ideas worthy of copying - not the notch. Android devices should look to Samsung, not Apple when it comes to innovation. Samsung may not always be right, but they are a 'notch' above Apple.