When Apple unveiled the iPhone X a couple of years ago, it split opinion. For some, the notch was an iconic feature that begged to be copied, and many smartphone makers did just that, equipping their devices with very similar black blocks in an attempt to ride on Apple’s coattails.
However, lots of consumers didn’t take to the notch, stating quite rightly that it took away valuable screen real estate. Over the past few months, we’ve seen numerous attempts by rival phone makers to come up with viable alternatives, such as hole-punch cameras, pop-up cameras and sliding cameras.
Given that Apple’s notch is where it hides the all-important Face ID camera, you’d assume it was a design choice that’s here to stay, but reports from the Far East suggest that’s not the case, and that Apple is looking to remove the notch entirely from its future iPhones.
According to China Times, which has apparently seen a research note from analysts at Credit Suisse bank, Apple is looking to reduce and even eradicate the notch in the not-too-distant future. This change will begin with next year’s iPhone 12, but it is believed that the notch will be entirely gone by 2021. The note claims that only one of the three phones released next year – the iPhone 12R, iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Max – will have a notch-less screen.
iPhone 12 Will Move Away From The Notch, But iPhone 13 Will Finally Kill It
Why will it achieve this? Well, according to the report, Apple is looking to use Oppo’s recently-announced under-screen camera technology, which means we’ll finally see an all-screen iPhone soon. Oppo hasn’t actually put this tech into a consumer phone yet, which could explain why Apple isn’t making the shift until 2021. Even so, it should be one of the pioneers of this approach, which will help the iPhone 12 make a splash.
Sadly, by moving to this tech, Face ID could become a thing of the past and we’re therefore very likely to see Touch ID make a comeback – this time as an in-screen scanner, rather than one below the screen.
The iPhone 12 could be significant for other reasons, too; it is rumoured that it will be the first device in Apple’s line to support 5G, which will make it a true next-generation handset in every sense of the word. Apple has been beaten to the 5G market by rivals such as Samsung and Xiaomi, but 5G networks are not widespread at the moment and Apple’s timing could be quite fortuitous; by 2020 5G coverage will have improved a lot and many more people will be ready to take the plunge.
In the meantime, however, if you’re a fan of the notch then you’d better make the most of it, because there’s a chance it might not be around for very much longer. So long, notch, you served a purpose but it’s high time you were shown the door.
Damien McFerran has been covering phones and mobile technology for well over a decade. An Android specialist, as well as an expert reviewer of phones, Damien is one of the best technology journalists working today. He is also editorial director over at the excellent Nintendo Life.