What do you think about recent smartphones' design? iPhone X, Galaxy S9, LG G7 ThinQ, almost all latest devices have 'bezel less' design. This design is good trend because we can use more spaces for screen and can have immersive experiences.
And how will be this trend in near future (maybe 2 or 3 years after)? Yes, this article's topic is all about 'bezel'.
Limits of today
You know, Galaxy S9 has small chin and forehead. Even iPhone X has 'notch'. Notch is sometimes thought 'the future', but I think it's just makeshift. I don't say notch is a bad thing. What Apple did on iPhone X is incredible because it is expanded the screen to the LIMIT. It means they still can't remove all the bezels. So let's dig down reasons.
First, obviously they need to put front facing camera onto their phones. We often take selfie shots, maybe girls do more. Selfie culture produces huge vein of gold, so why designer cut this? But we don't have technology putting camera under the display yet. OK, we leave camera on top.
Second one is proximity sensor. When we phone call, the display must turn off. This feature is required not only saving battery but preventing malfunctions by touching cheek or ears when you are calling. And I haven't heard any way to embed this sensor under the display or other places. Yes, again, we leave proximity sensor on top.
Third, speaker. Some manufacture put it inside the body, so this one is close to be standard. Xiaomi, one of the biggest manufacturer, launched Mi Mix which integrates 'piezoelectric speaker'. This technology enables to make speaker completely hidden. It vibrates the glass and frames of the phone. And this technique isn't new, so if manufacturers wish, front facing speaker will disappear.
Finally, fingerprints scanner. iPhone X shrunk traditional fingerprints reader and switched to face unlock. But honestly speaking, fingerprints unlock is still useful and I thought apple shouldn't delete it. In 2015, Qualcomm presented 'Sense ID'. It uses ultrasonic wave so that phone can recognize 3D form of fingers. Thanks to this, it doesn't chose what materials they use on the surface of fingerprints reader. It means smartphone not only can scan more deeper even if glass is wet or dirty, but can mount scanner inside of the screen. I don't know specific reasons why smartphones featured in-display fingerprints scanner come out yet, but I assume it because for yield or cost to manufacture. This year, Vivo revealed consumer phone have in-display fingerprint scanner FINALLY. That took very, very long time to realize. Of course, there are many company that put fingerprints reader on the back. But Vivo aims that in the future, they want phone to be able to scan fingerprints every where you touch, entire display. It will be a game changing. So in summary, it will quite common in-display fingerprints scanner in the next couple of years.
To finish this chapter, I have to say a few more. I showed above the limits of battle against bezel today. What I want to tell you is notch or small chin and forehead are just intermediate. It is nonsense to fight which design are superior to. We go forward together toward for the final design, FULL DISPLAY.
What differentiation elements can be considered in the design?
Before getting into the main subject, I want you to see this picture. This is from Microsoft's concept video, "Productivity Future Vision (2011)". When I watch this, I was a high school student. I was really impressed because it is simply very cool. Completely no bezel, wrapped by display even corners, it's FULL DISPLAY. Since that time, I've hoped its realization.
However, when most manufacturer use full display, how designers make differences between others? Back panel? Side frames? I don't know what will be going on. But it is interesting, isn't it? One thing I can clearly say is that everyone wants to use bigger screen packed into small size, so that is inevitable. I know some of you don't want phones to be like this. Increasing mistaken touch? That isn't a big problem because it is easy to erase using machine learning or something like this. Fingers don't reach enough? That can break by software improvements, not a problem of hardware itself. So if every phones become full display, almost all accompanying problems will disappear, in my opinion.
Lastly, I am a big fan of edge to edge display. Notch or small forehead design are not true future. And the time when full display design become common, I believe it is surprisingly great for users. I really, really hope it will realize soon.
Thanks for reading! And this is my first time to write article in English, so I might mistook much. If you don't mind, tell me where were wrong :)