Ever since handset makers started to obsess over making devices with massive edge-to-edge screens, we’ve seen a wide range of weird and wonderful ways of filling out the front of each new phone without losing the all-important camera and sensor array that usually sits at the top of the device.
Xiaomi – one of the first companies to create a big-screen phone with its MiMix concept device – put the camera on the ‘chin’ of the handset, which forced users to turn their phone 180 degrees to take selfies. Meanwhile, Samsung simply gave its Galaxy S8 and S9 phones tiny bezels at the top and bottom of the screen. By far the most famous solution has been the one chosen by Apple for its game-changing iPhone X – the infamous notch.
At the time, the notch felt like a concession rather than a viable design choice; it was almost an admission that the company’s designers couldn’t marry up the promise of an edge-to-edge screen with the need to include elements such as front-facing cameras and proximity sensors. But, as is so often the case with Apple products, it ended up starting a trend which has been embraced by practically every handset maker on the planet.
First, it was Chinese firms like Elephone which copied the notch, presumably in an attempt to mimic the iPhone X and thereby gain a few additional sales. However, as the months have gone on, other phone companies have followed suit, essentially legitimising the notch as a design choice. Google, LG, Huawei, Honor, Xiaomi, OnePlus… all of these firms have released or will release a handset which uses the notch. What was once an eyesore is now simply a way of life for phone owners.
However, we’re now seeing a new trend emerging which could trump the notch – sliding phones. Now, we don’t mean the kind that were popular in the days before smartphones took over; instead, we’re talking about a slide mechanism which allows the front-facing camera (or cameras) to pop out from the top of the phone as and when you need them.
The Vivo Nex and Oppo Find X were the first two Chinese phones to showcase this system, and Xiaomi has recently teased that its upcoming MiMix 3 – set to be unveiled on the 25th – also uses this approach. Now, we have confirmation – via a series of videos, some of which feature Chinese pop stars – that the Honor Magic 2 also has a sliding camera system.
The videos clearly show the slider in action, and the presence of this system means that the front of the phone is totally devoid of any unsightly notches. Of course, it’s not a perfect solution; a sliding system makes it hard to fit a case, and moving parts are prone to failure over time. Still, it’s more agreeable than having a big ugly block on the front of your phone – unless, of course, you see the notch as a fashion statement rather than a practical solution.
Could we see other phones embrace this approach? We’re almost certain we will, but it remains to be seen if the notch – a cheaper solution from a construction perspective – can be totally defeated.