Apple's iPhone 16 Pro Max bezels will be a sight to behold but no pleasure to hold

Apple's iPhone 16 Pro Max bezels will be a sight to behold but no pleasure to hold
The Apple iPhone 16 Pro Max will reportedly be a sight to behold, with an impossibly thin screen frame and the largest display on an iPhone ever. A sight to behold, but not a pleasure to hold, as we already established in our unwieldy iPhone obesity epidemic piece. Why?

Since it will be even larger and heavier than its predecessor, and the same goes for the iPhone 16 Pro, whose new dimensions may take it out of the best compact phone rankings this year. That's not even mentioning all the ghost touches that can be registered because of the dearth of a frame barrier.

Weird flex, Apple, but ok

The leaked bezel dimensions of what is expected to be Apple's largest phone to date - the iPhone 16 Pro Max - have returned a drastic 33% reduction in the visible bezel's width. Not that the iPhone 15 Pro Max's 1.71mm bezel was huge to begin with, but the bezel on the 16 Pro Max should be the thinnest out there, this side of curved screens.

If Apple manages to pull this off, it would be undoubtedly a significant engineering achievement as, especially with the bottom side of the bezel where the display connector resides, it is very hard to thin bezels further without compromising on performance or durability.

Rumors have it that some of the display diagonal's increase from 6.7 to 6.9 inches has been made possible precisely on account of the new and thinner bezels. This, however, resembles Apple's argument when it released the iPhone X with the notch cutout. 

Instead of calling it a design abomination, Apple argued that it's not the notch which encroaches into the screen, but the other way around, and the panel has extra space on the sides of the notch for displaying content.

It's not you, it's me, the curse of Face ID

While halving the bezel size since the iPhone 14 Pro will be a visible advantage for those who upgrade to the iPhone 16 Pro or iPhone 16 Pro Max, even that difference in width would be barely noticeable.

Granted, the subconscious will register the more elegant frame around the iPhone 16 Pro Max display, and Apple is all about visual details and first impressions. The curse of Face ID will follow it into the new phone, though, no matter how much bezel it shaves off from the sides.

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"The thinnest phone bezel" bragging rights will add some extra screen canvas to browse and watch movies on, and it would be hard to argue against that. It will, however, alleviate none of the design decisions that Apple has had to deal with ever since it decided to be cool and unique with its biometry, and replaced fingerprint scanning with face recognition.

First, it was the notch and the screen "horns" on its side that took a good part of the iPhone screen's top. Then the notch shrank a bit, but still looked like a cutout of the usable screen area.

Afterward, Apple introduced the Dynamic Island take on the punch hole selfie cameras that everyone has been using years before it came around to do it. This freed up a bit more of the canvas and added some extra functionality, but the punch hole and pill-shaped screen cutouts remained as a visible reminder of a forced design error.

In short, what Apple giveth in reducing the screen bezel width, it did already take away with the Dynamic Island. Nominally a boost to the iPhone's screen-to-body ratio, the visible pixels above the screen holes are pretty much unusable.

The Dynamic Island sits lower than the lowest part of the notch before it. While it takes less width than the notch, allowing for some cool notification effects that hide its provocative design decision, it actually occupies a tad more vertical space overall, especially with third-party apps that are not optimized to display anything in the few pixels above it. 

Apple can't backtrack on Face ID now, though, so the thinnest bezel record of the iPhone 16 Pro Max would likely ring hollow until Apple finds a way to bury the Dynamic Island hardware below the screen, at least partially.

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