Who will finally kill the bezel?
Screens are taking up more and more of our devices these days, but that’s a good thing. I was long a proponent of the bezel, but the LG G6 (and since then, the GS8) have made me see the error of my ways. But we’re not quite there yet. We haven’t crossed that finish line just yet. But it seems inevitable that we will cross it some day. So we asked our editors – who’s gonna do it? Here’s what they had to say:
“It will need to be bold.”
I’m going to take a sleeper candidate. It’s easy to call out names like Samsung – because it’s a crazy idea, or LG because of Google money. But I’m going to go with Lenovo/Moto. Last year at the introduction to the Moto Z, Lenovo had a YouTuber standing out in the audience wearing a freakin’ bendable phone on her wrist. This wasn’t some behind the curtain like a shady video rental store situation like Samsung was doing at MWC. No sir. This was BLAM right there out in public, you-got-a-camera-great-point-it-at -this type of setting. That is freakin’ bold, and that’s what it’ll take to eliminate bezels.
Plus, Moto is already working on a shatterproof screen, which a bezel-less phone will need more than ever before.
Anton D. Nagy
“Screen tech pioneer? Only one name.”
My money is on LG. Not necessarily because the company produces displays for other OEMs, but because they have pioneered tech like the curved screens on the G-Flex, and were the first to the market with a tall screen (G6 ahead of S8).
However, Apple’s been rumored to do it. I don’t think it will happen, at least not this year (I’d be happy if it did, because that would open up a new era in smartphones), but, again, my money is on LG. G7 maybe?
I don’t think the bezel will die any time soon with smartphones. OLED displays have proven that this isn’t really an issue of technology, but more of ergonomics. Ergonomics definitely include the ability to hold a product without triggering the display, but I also consider that the viewing experience wouldn’t really improve if bezels go away. Black bezels actually make content more immersive for me in particular.
“Gonna be a tricky, and likely flawed execution.”
Bezels… We all hate bezels. Unfortunately, the march to get rid of them has been fraught with uncertainty, frustration, and mediocre implementation. A bezel is a place where your fingers can grasp the device, but a phone without bezels must be smart enough to detect that the areas being touched aren’t being interacted with – just held. A screen’s radius must match the radius of the case which holds it. And so on. Who will be the first to bring us a phone free of bezels? That I do not know.
Regardless, the company that does will face ridicule (some warranted, some not), criticism, and will alienate one user base while attempting to appeal to another. It’s the Kobayashi Maru of smartphones – and it’s going to take a maverick bold enough to try it before we see what can – and perhaps what should or should not – be done.
Juan Carlos Bagnell
“Why does form have to bow to function?”
Ugh. I loathe the idea of a day when the aesthetic argument drives phone design to a place where there’s no surface area to actually hold a phone anymore. Hopefully by then real geeks will be working on neural implants. Anywho, I’d be willing to bet good money that LG or Xiaomi is actually first to completely eliminate bezel space, but Samsung will take all the credit when its solution arrives shortly after.
“The Pixel will shed the bezel once and for all.”
I originally wrote a single sentence on this topic saying that if any company’s going to bring bezel-less mainstream, it’ll be LG because a good ODM contract with Google will make anyone do things they haven’t done before. Samsung’s got things close and so does Apple, but that I’m willing to ride the black horse on a Pixel 3 or 4 down the road. Yes, that means that I’m willing to drop HTC in the bin — I see them using bezels creatively down the road if it can execute a good landing this year.
Still, if Xiaomi really is going to take so long to seep into the West and, just like its Chinese kin, do nothing to impress with introductory low-enders, it doesn’t deserve the headspace we’ve been giving it.
Wow, more sentences. I’m proud of myself.
“That’s what we think – how about you?”
The argument could be made that a phone with 100% less bezels is not a great idea. Bezels have function, both to protect the glass and to hold the device. Can both of those problems be solved? Can they be solved in a year? Personally, I think LG and Samsung have set a new and exciting precedent for bezel minimalism, and that’s going to be enough to carry us all for a couple of years.
But what do you think? Do you have a dark horse candidate? Anyone want to pick Samsung or Apple, since none of us really did? Let’s figure it out in the comments. Whenever it happens and whoever does it, it’ll be exciting, to be sure.