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We asked, you confirmed: Android notches are a no-go

A typical notch on a smartphone

Every smartphone we see at Android Authority has some kind of compromise. Maybe the speakers are no good or the battery life sucks; maybe the design is dated or the UI is atrocious. Recently though, the most controversial compromise of all is whether or not the display has a notch.

Critics say it’s a cynical attempt to copy Apple, and that interpretation is very much the one in the crosshairs of the enthusiast Android community. While there are arguably some reasons for having a notch, fuel has definitely been thrown on the fire courtesy of some fairly tone-deaf comments from the likes of Asus and OnePlus.

A less cynical view is that a notch gives us more screen, not less, along with the usual sensors, speaker and camera we’ve come to demand on the front. With Android P supporting it natively, it’s also likely to be less of a UI headache than it could be. Win-win, right? Well, not quite, as our most recent YouTube community poll shows. We knew the notch wasn’t popular, but we now have a sample of 50,000 votes across two days of voting, as to how a notch will affect your next smartphone purchase.

38 percent, or nearly 4/10 voters, said they simply won’t buy a phone with a notch at all. This is a large slice of the market lost to new phones such as the Huawei P20, Oppo R15, and what we’ll likely soon see in the LG G7 and the OnePlus 6. Some voters did point out that they wouldn’t necessarily rule out the Essential Phone though, due to its smaller and more unique koyhole cut-out for the front-facing camera.

The next biggest voting block is more practical: 23 percent said that while they don’t like them, they’ll survive. So if the notch serves a purpose on an otherwise great phone, almost a quarter of you will learn to live with it. Another 15 percent of respondents are aligned with these thoughts, saying they’ll get a notch phone only if there’s an option to hide it, as per the P20 and R15 (and likely a large percentage of future notch phones).

That leaves us with two groups: the notch fans (all 5 percent of them) and the 21 percent that couldn’t care less about all the notch furore.

Cutting these numbers another way, around 8 in 10 voters feel strongly about the notch in some way, reinforcing just how strongly divisive the design choice has become. It’s the biggest issue we’ve seen since the removal of the headphone jack, so perhaps a good follow-up question to those 8/10 voters would be: if a great new phone had a notch, but also had a headphone jack, would you buy it?

Top comments on the poll:

  • Notch? No buy. Just like the headphone jack: No headphone jack, no buy. It’s that simple.
  • It destroys the harmony and symmetry of the screen. Ugly
  • I’d rather have very slim bezels than a notch. A notch will block some parts of the content on your screen while you’re on landscape mode. They get in the way while you’re watching videos, playing games, etc.
  • Got the Note 8 … So I don’t think I need a new phone for two years, ie until notch period is over….

Read next: 6 alternatives to the smartphone notch

The future of the notch

While we all want as much phone screen as possible and the smallest bezels we can get, having a large-sized chunk taken out of the screen is a pretty poor solution. The good news, as per the last poll comment above, is that the notch saga is highly likely to end within a generation or two of new smartphone releases. First, it will shrink, then it’ll (hopefully) disappear.

Mrwhosetheboss

We’re already seeing some interesting concepts for providing a space to house what normally lives in the top bezel, including the Doogee Mix 4 slide-and-hide prototype. The concept provides the phone with a mighty 97 percent screen-to-body ratio, as much as 12 percent more than next-best Essential, while still leaving plenty of space for a front-facing camera, light sensors, speakers, and so on.

The notch problem will hopefully be consigned to history within 12-18 months as display and component makers elevate their under-glass game or new bezel-less solutions like Vivo’s Apex concept take hold. Then, perhaps, we’ll go back to the previous outrages which will undoubtably continue to bubble away, such as the lack of a headphone jack problem, swappable batteries, removable storage, and so on. Some of these look like long-term issues that are more worth getting upset about.

Thanks for your votes, and if you have more to say on the concept of the notch, as well as an answer to our next question on whether you’d buy a phone with a headphone jack as well as a notch, do jump into the comments below.

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