What is the notch in smartphones and what is it for

The notch is the indentation present at the top of the smartphone. Here's what it's for and what components are inside

Some call it a notch. Others use the English term. What are we talking about? Of the "notch", the black-colored indentation present at the top of the smartphone display and that since September 2017 we see on most devices. Launched as a novelty by Apple with the iPhone X, the notch soon appeared also on Android devices, top of the range and not.

From the beginning, users were divided between apocalyptic and integrated. There are those who have appreciated the notch because it has brought a breath of fresh air in the mobile world, which remained fossilized on their ideas for too long, but there are also many users who have never loved the notch. That notch inserted in the center of the device can be indigestible, especially to design purists. As explained by smartphone manufacturers, the notch was a necessary solution to contain the size of the devices, which now integrate increasingly large displays.

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What is the notch for

Why did companies (Apple in primis) decide to integrate the notch inside their devices? The answer is very simple and has nothing to do with design. Users demand smartphones with larger and larger screens without increasing the size. To be able to combine these two features, the only solution was to eliminate the frontal bezels of smartphones, keeping a small space to integrate the proximity sensors, the frontal camera and the earphone capsule. And that's how the notch was born, an indentation of varying sizes, within which we find sensors, cameras and fundamental components of the smartphone.

Can the notch be eliminated?

The answer is "no". Android has developed a software feature that allows you to blacken the display space present on the sides of the notch. It is a "buffer" solution, but it does not make the notch disappear. Moreover, this feature is not active on all devices of the green robot. On the iPhone, however, there is no way to make the notch disappear: it is a feature that distinguishes the device from the competition.

How big is the notch?

The size of the notch varies from smartphone to smartphone. Over the months, manufacturers have used increasingly extreme solutions, ranging from the very large notch on the iPhone X, to the "teardrop" notch found on the OnePlus 6T.

The size of the notch depends on the sensors and components inside. The largest notch is present on the iPhone X, iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max, iPhone Xr and Xiaomi Mi 8: inside the notch we find the proximity and brightness sensors, the front camera and the sensors for three-dimensional face recognition. The dimensions are smaller on the OnePlus 6 and Huawei P20, where inside the notch we find only the camera and proximity sensors that have not been inserted under the display. Some companies have also tried alternative solutions, integrating a notch with very small dimensions, just enough space to insert the front camera.

The alternatives to the notch

The notch is not the only solution that smartphone manufacturers have. And this is demonstrated by phones like the Galaxy S9 and Sony XZ 3 that do not feature the notch, but still have very small dimensions, thanks to optimization work on the bezels.

The future of the notch

Are we going to live in a world where all smartphones will have a notch? Of course not. The era of the notch is now on its last legs. Companies are already presenting devices with original solutions. The trend of the next few years will be the hole on the screen (as done by Samsung with the Galaxy S10) and cameras hidden inside the smartphone, in the style of Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 and Oppo Find X.