iPhone: Apple May Finally Improve on One of Its Worst Design Features
Apple could drop one of its most controversial design choices, thanks to a technology breakthrough from one of its suppliers. Supplier AMS has developed a new sensor that could reduce the need for the notch, introduced with the iPhone X as a means of powering features like Face ID while making the screen bigger.
The move would mean scaling back one of Apple’s strangest design choices, perceived by some reviewers as an uncharacteristic misstep for the design-centric firm. The notch houses a speaker, camera, TrueDepth system for scanning a user’s face, and light and infrared proximity sensors for adjusting the screen depending on the environment. Reuters reported on Monday that AMS, which supplies the face recognition sensors for the iPhone, has developed a light and infrared proximity sensor that can hide behind the screen, which the company claims could “achieve the highest possible ratio of display area to body size…potentially eliminating the bezel entirely.”
The breakthrough alone wouldn’t be enough to remove the notch owing to the other components, but it takes one step toward making it possible. Samsung has patented a camera that can hide under the screen, while the Vivo Apex concept phone hides the speaker by vibrating the entire display. One leaker claioms Apple plans to transition from a notch to a hole in the screen for its 2020 phone — a design choice that has appeared on devices from smartphone makers like Huawei, and has already earned the nickname “dotch.”
A key hurdle to offering a completely blemish-free display is the face recognition system. It’s essentially a miniaturized Microsoft Kinect, beaming 30,000 invisible dots onto a user’s face and measuring the distance to complete a 3D map. A January 2018 report claimed Apple was exploring ways to combine its face recognition abilities with a camera module, which could help scale the size of the notch down further.
With Apple pushing for as big a screen as possible on the front of the display, it’s unlikely that the firm will offer a fully notch-free (or dotch-free) phone any time soon. Consumers will have to make do with an ever-shrinking cutout until Apple makes a breakthrough in hiding components under the screen, or until the firm does away with the screen entirely through its rumored augmented reality glasses.
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