smartphone

Phones without the notch: Bezel-less phones that have no notch

For a long time, smartphones of any tier had spottable bezels on all sides. Most notably on their upper and bottom sections of the screen where often you would find the selfie camera and a speaker at the top and a Home key at the bottom or touch-enabled sensors that functioned as one.

There have been several attempts to redesign smartphones to make them appear more garish. Visible bezels get in the way in that and aside from aesthetic-related issues, they make phones be larger than they should be. A minimization on bezels enables mobiles devices to rock larger touchscreen displays without significant changes on the overall size of the device.

To minimize the not-touchscreen portions of the screen phones began losing the physical Home key and replaced the three touch sensors under the screen with software cloaking that made them appear into the screen and pushed the touchscreen availability towards all corners. However, there are necessary features that should be into the screen that forbid the true all-touchscreen availability on a smartphone.

What is the screen notch on a phone?

Making phones exteriors glass-only won’t save them from the bezels. Even all-glass phones have their glass panels held together via a metallic framing and each phone should at least have a camera, speaker, and a proximity sensor embedded on the front side. The design attempts to change how phones look in favor of the all-touchscreen concept have had mixed success. The best screen-to-body ratio manufacturers have managed to implement stands at around 88% of the phone’s front panel being touch-functional.

Samsung, until the generation of the Galaxy S9 and Note9, allowed for a not-touchscreen strip at the top of the phone to be where the selfie camera and a bunch of sensors resided. China phone makers Oppo, and Vivo placed a motorized camera to pop up when required and didn’t have to include much of a bezel at the top, while some companies, like Apple, packed close together at the center of the upper section of the screen the speaker, camera, and the proximity sensor to create a display cutout notch that was surrounded on three sides by screen.

What phone components are in the display notch?

There are several components that are essential to have their placement on the frontal side of the phone. The selfie camera is the prime component and in many cases, manufacturers managed to hide most of the other sensors under the display or in the narrow space between the screen and the frame. Such display cutout is often labeled as waterdrop notch.

The front speaker for calls, proximity and ambient light sensor, and sometimes additional sensors that are required for 3D face recognition get placed right on the notch. Depending on wide and deep the notch is, there may be components that are mounted on the screen cut out and have some sensors located under the glass.

Pros and cons of the notch

The primary reason why the display cutout exists in smartphones is to increase the screen real estate for the user. But having it may be itchy when viewing photos in landscape mode, watching videos, or when playing video games. A notch just starring back at you while you’re not doing that great in a game may turn energy for the frustration to build up.

Can you hide the screen notch on your phone?

OnePlus and Huawei allow the user to hide the notch from the Settings. When opting to hide the notch on any of those phones the cutout section will turn into a notifications bar and won’t be displaying anything else. You can disable the notch display on the Google Pixel 3 XL but it will turn black and won’t serve any use at all. In addition, you have the option of hiding the notch on any Android phone by installing apps from the Play Store that do just that.

Apple doesn’t allow you to hide the notch on any of its iPhone X series. There are third-party apps for iPhone that serve as notch removers and they’re basic photo editors that resize a pre-select image and add a black bar to cover the notch. While you won’t be seeing the notch on your iPhone when you unlock the phone, this notch removal won’t affect other apps and it will still be there when you go past the homepage.

Don’t want an ugly notch ‘biting’ at pictures, games, and videos being played on full screen? Here are the best phones that do not have a display notch.

Samsung Galaxy S10 / S10e / S10+

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus hands on review

Samsung’s notch-free Galaxy S10 flagship smartphone is finally here. It has more screen, more cameras, more memory, and more of everything. It drastically decreases the size of the bezels and for the first time ever it has an in-display selfie camera. The S10 Plus actually has two front-facing selfie cameras that are mounted under the screen.

The Galaxy S10 comes in three major models. The 5.8-inch S10e, 6.1-inch standard S10, and 6.4-inch S10 Plus. There’s also the Galaxy S10 5G, a much larger phablet of 6.7-inches that has four cameras on the back and two at the front but its release date has not been announced.

All of the available-to-order versions of the Galaxy S10 sport Dynamic AMOLED of QHD+ resolution with 19:9 screen to body ratios. The S10 and S10 Plus take the lead as the top phones featuring the curved edge display. Samsung dropped curves on the edges of the 5.8-inch S10e.

All the variants of the Galaxy S10 have versions running Qualcomm’s 7nm Snapdragon 855 SoC and the 8nm Exynos 9. There are several storage models for each phone, including a high-end version of the S10+ with 12GB of RAM and 1TB of built-in local storage. Every version of the Samsung flagship ships with Android 9.0 sporting One UI overlay out of the box.

More cameras are a signature of the new Samsung Galaxy phone. The Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus have three cameras on the back. A 12MP standard camera, a 12MP telephoto sensor, and a 16MP ultrawide camera. The S10e doesn’t have a telephoto sensor but instead rocks only the 12MP and the 16MP sensors. The unreleased S10 5G might be the best camera phone made in 2019, it has the three cameras found on its other siblings and a fourth TOF sensor similar to the unit found on the Vivo Nex.

Each version of the Galaxy S10 is the current best phone for selfies. The 10MP selfie sensor found on the Galaxy S10 and S10e feature PDAF and HDR to record 4K videos. The same camera gets backed by an 8MP depth sensor on the S10 Plus to enhance selfie snaps.

The fingerprint reader on the S10 and S10 Plus is embedded beneath the glass putting an end to the fingerprint scanner on the back of Galaxy series of phones. The S10e has the fingerprint placed on the side. All the models of the new Galaxy have top-end sensors including those related to health and run on batteries with various capacities intended to make them powered through the day.

Huawei Honor Magic 2

Huawei Magic 2 hands on review

The maker of outstanding China phones, Huawei, updated the Magic flagship of its sub-brand Honor and changed it big time. The new Honor Magic 2 does not have curves on the edges and has six cameras. Three on the back and three at the front. Honor brings back the slide function on smartphones and places the trio of front cameras along with the speaker for calls and a bunch of sensors in it to enable an entirely touchscreen-enabled display to its Magic 2 flagship. Lenovo and Xiaomi followed a similar path with the upgraded GT edition of the Z5 Pro and Mi Mix 3.

The 6.39-inch FHD display of the Honor Magic 2 eliminates the notch and brings back the slide. Its camera configuration is excellent, two 16MP standard sensors and a 24MP monochrome lens with PDAF and HDR on the back enhance photography and video recording capabilities of the device, especially when it comes to capturing images in black and white. The selfie shooters aren’t disappointing either. There is a 16MP camera that is backed by two 2MP depth-measuring sensors to alternate better 3D rendering of portrait selfies.

Magic 2 is powered by the 7nm Kirin 980 and has versions with 6GB and 8GB of RAM with 128GB and 256GB of non-extendable local memory. The phone is updated to Android 9.0 and has it overlayed with the Magic UI 2. It features Face ID and a fingerprint reader mounted under the glass. A 3,500 mAh battery is supposed to keep it powered for a day.

Asus Rog Phone

Asus ROG Phone Gaming Android smartphone

The best gaming smartphone money can buy in 2019 does not have a screen notch. That’s right. None wants to see blank sections on a screen when playing video games. An opponent player could be positioned right on that spot. Despite having a futuristic design with various geometric shapes being cut out from the back of the device, its screen remains intact from anything that could mess up the gaming experience.

The Rog phone features a 6-inch FHD AMOLED display with 90Hz refresh rate and has it protected by the 6th generation of the Corning Gorilla Glass. There’s a 12MP and 8MP dual-camera setup on the rear and an 8MP sensor at the front. HDR is supported for both cameras, and the phone captures 4K vids with the rear sensors and FHD 1080p clips with the selfie camera.

The Rog Phone is specifically built to create the best mobile gaming environment. It has side-mounted ports that won’t let those cables get in your way when holding the phone with both hands, touch-sensitive sensors on the side, and supports accessories such as a gamepad, a dock that gives you two screens and 6,000 mAh of additional power, or the possibility to stream the games straight to your 4K TV. The CPU of this phone is also cooled by an internal 3D Vapor chamber cooler or an external detachable cooler. Asus Rog Phone is also a smartphone with a headphone jack, none wants to search for the right USB-C dongle to listen to audio on wired headphones anyway.

Nokia 9 PureView

Nokia 9 PureView hands on review

HMD Global refreshed its line of smartphones and released the first Android One phone with Snapdragon 845 and five cameras on the rear. Nokia 9 PureView is different from the most Nokia phones of 2018 as its screen has no notch and adds hardware upgrade to the line. Nokia 6, 7, and 8 editions of last year were less powerful than their predecessors. But now, Nokia finally has a phone of its own that runs Snapdragon 945 and brings something new in the industry, one phone with five cameras on one side.

The new Nokia flagship maintains a compact design and features an OLED display of 5.99-inches boasting the QHD+ resolution of 2880 x 1440 pixels. The camera setup is one of the things that makes the flagship-level Nokia phone stand. It has a total of five cameras on the back and a time-of-flight sensor. All the five sensors are of 12MP and two of them are standard cameras and three others are monochrome. The way Nokia 9 Pureview captures compelling pictures with its cameras is by making them all work together and filter out an image as large as 240MP of data and fuse them together into a 12MP of HDR image. A 20MP sensor that performs quite well is placed at the top bezel of the front side.

Nokia kept the PureView smartphone simple. It has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of non-extendable local memory. On top of that, it offers a neat Google-inspired user experience provided by the Android 9.0 Pie.

The unusually-designed Nokia 9 has glass on both sides, and it supports wireless charging. The fingerprint reader is housed beneath the display, and it has a 3,320 mAh battery for power.

Huawei Honor View 20

Huawei Honor View 20 hands on review

Huawei’s Honor redesigned View 20 has much more to offer than last-years View 10. Although last year’s View 10 is an up-to-date Android phone with a front fingerprint scanner and a physical Home key, the new View 20 belongs to a whole different concept design. It is larger, has a full touchscreen display, and it is a notch-less phone with a circular camera cutout. This is the best alternative to Samsung Galaxy S10 for anyone that’s looking for a phone that has a camera circular cutout notch, but that is not Samsung-made.

The Honor View 20 spotlights a 6.4-inch FHD LCD display and a stunning 48MP Sony IMX586 with PDAF, HDR, and has it accompanied by a TOF sensor for capturing bright 4K videos and slow-mo HD clips of up to 960 frames per second. There’s another 25MP Sony-made sensor at the front for which a cutout notch is made.

The top-tier Honor flagship runs the current-best Huawei-made Kirin 980 chipset and has it backed by 8GB of RAM and Android 9.0 with Magic UI 2 skin on the top. The local storage models of this phone include 128GB and 256GB. No microSD card is supported.

There is a fingerprint scanner on the back, a headphone jack, and a large 4,000 mAh battery to keep it supplied with sufficient power throughout the day.

Sony Xperia XZ3

Sony Xperia XZ3 hands on

Sony has been the most reluctant manufacturer regarding design adjustments on mobile phones. Sony phones have changed little over the years as trends in the outlook of phones came and went by. There’s no Sony phone with a screen notch, and most likely you won’t be seeing one such device anytime soon as the upcoming Xperia 1, the new name for the Xperia XZ4 won’t be exactly like the XZ3, but it won’t have any notch whatsoever.

Xperia XZ3 packs a compact body made of glass that is sandwiched together via an aluminum frame and rocks a 6-inch QHD+ OLED display with curves on the edges. The 19MP single-camera on the back of this phone captures compelling images and even outplays the Samsung flagship in super slow-motion video recording by capturing 1080p clips at 960 frames per second. A 13MP camera at the front does an excellent job for providing quality video chat and selfie shoots.

The current Sony flagship runs on Snapdragon 845 and has it backed by 6GB of RAM and Android 9.0 Pie version of the OS. There are only 64GB of onboard memory, but this internal space can be increased by up to 512GB via a microSD card. The fingerprint reader is placed on the back of the device, and there’s a 3,300 mAh battery for fuel that supports wireless and fast charging.

Xiaomi Mi Mix 3

Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 hands on review

Xiaomi is to be credited with the undergoing efforts by almost every major phone maker to increase the amount of touchscreen availability on phone screens. Company’s first generation of Mi Mix was a successful concept phone that has now undergone through some adjustments to highlight the concept of a phone that has almost whole of its front panel enabled for the touch.

Xiaomi dropped the bottom-mount for the selfie camera and placed it under a mechanical pop-up slider that resembles the one encountered on the Huawei Magic 2. There’s a large 6.39-inch OLED display on the Mi Mix 3 that features full HD resolution and has no cutout or notch carved into it. This handheld device equips two 12MP sensors on the rear, one of which is a telephoto sensor and it can capture slow-mo clips at 960fps at 1080p resolution. There are two selfie cameras mounted on the slider, a 24MP standard unit and a 2MP depth detection sensor.

The standard edition of the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 runs Snapdragon 845 SoC and has variants with 6GB, 8GB, and 10GB of RAM with all of them being upgraded to Android 9 with MIUI 10. Expandable memory is not supported, and there are storage variants of the Mix 3 involve 128GB and 256GB of flash storage. Xiaomi manufactured a Mi Mix 3 phone that runs Snapdragon 855 chipset, and it is one of the very few 5G phones at this time.

The only downside of the 3rd generation of Xiaomi Mix is its low-capacity battery. A 3,200 mAh battery certainly won’t be lasting you long considering the hi-end specifications and the massive screen.

Vivo Nex Dual Display

Vivo Nex Dual display smartphone hands on review

Vivo came up with an ingenious concept to design a notch-less phone. The China-based manufacturer of some of the best mid-range Android phones rebuilt the top-end Nex phone and added a second touchscreen panel onto it. Having a second display enabled Vivo to drop the secondary camera equipment for portrait selfies and video chat entirely, turning the phone in the other side will grant you with the screen to watch how your selfies are made and actually experience an enhanced video chat time. It is no secret, selfie cameras are inferior to the primary sensors in the back on almost every mobile device.

The previous design of the Vivo Nex included a motorized pop-up module that would show up to reveal the front camera. Vivo recreated the Nex phone and equipped it with a secondary 5.45-inch FHD OLED screen on the back. This grants to the 6.39-inch FHD screen on the front side a pure borderless pattern that is not interrupted by any cutting for sensors.

The redesigned Vivo flagship sports three cameras placed right above the secondary display. They are a 12MP primary Sony-made sensor, a 2MP depth detecting unit, and a time-of-flight sensor. This triple camera setup allows for 4K video recording and can be used as a front camera by simply flipping the phone to the other side.

The Nex phone with two screens is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset and has it reinforced by 10GB of RAM, 128GB of built-in non-expandable memory, and Android 9. There is support for two SIM cards, a fingerprint reader is mounted beneath the screen, and 3,500 mAh battery sets to fuel the phone through the day.

Lenovo Z5 Pro GT

Lenovo Z5 Pro GT hands on review

Lenovo’s Z5 Pro GT outraced the Galaxy S10 as the first smartphone to be powered by the Snapdragon 855 chipset. The Lenovo Z5 Pro GT offers a clear insight into how the all-touchscreen displays look on a phone. There’s nothing to interfere with the screen, the camera, speaker, and other necessary sensors that are needed on a phone stay hidden behind the display on a slider that you can pull up whenever they are required. Such a feature is also patterned on the Huawei Magic 2.

Being powered by the new-generation Snapdragon 855 chipset with a premium variant topping 12GB of RAM and 512GB of local storage and sporting a seamless display from edge to edge, Lenovo’s Z5 Pro GT is an excellent smartphone to play games with. The standard model of this phone comes with 8GB of RAM and has versions rocking 128GB or 256GB of inbound memory. Unfortunately, the phone runs the earlier Android 8.1 version of the Android OS and has ZUI 10 skin built on top of it.

The Lenovo flagship phone sports a 6.39-inch FHD OLED screen and has two cameras on the back and two on the front. The 16MP and 24MP rear-mounted record 4K videos with the second duo of 16MP and 8MP sensors placed on the manual mechanical slider and serving as selfie snappers capture full HD videos. Both dual-camera setups have HDR, and only the back-mounted sensors have PDAF.

The fingerprint sensor is placed under the display with the handheld phone supporting infrared face recognition as an alternative for fast unlocking. It packs a 3,350 mAh battery, supports two SIM cards and NFC, and costs less than half the price of the Samsung’s Snapdragon 855-powered Galaxy S10 flagship.

LG V35 ThinQ

LG V35 ThinQ

The LG V35 ThinQ is the only top-tier LG ThinQ phone to not have a notch cutout on the display. The V35 is a solid smartphone that isn’t either too big or too small. It houses a 6-inch high-resolution QHD OLED screen and has it protected by the 5th generation of Corning Gorilla glass.

V35 ThinQ is entirely made of glass, and it runs the Snapdragon 845 chipset with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of extendable built-in internal memory. LG is expected to release Android 9 upgrade of the OS before the end of Q1 of 2019, and there will be a custom UX interface that will be built on top of it.

A 16MP and 13MP dual-camera setup on the rear enables to it 4K video recording and an 8MP camera on the front takes care of everything selfie-related. There is a fingerprint reader on the back, a 3.5mm earphone jack, and a 3,300 mAh battery that is made to allow wireless and fast charging.

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Bledi Memishaj

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