Don't panic, the hole on the Galaxy S10's display won't be that bad

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Don't panic, the hole on the Galaxy S10's display won't be that bad
It seems like “the notch”, which was the bane of smartphone fans in 2018 is about to get upgraded to “the punch hole” in 2019, which is again stirring controversies in comments and preliminary reviews. Personally, I did not understand the cause for concern in the past, neither can I agree with it now.

But what am I talking about?

Real short and sweet — “the notch” is the cutout (or cut-in) you can see at the top of modern smartphones. Since displays have gotten taller in the past couple of years, with aspect ratios of 18:9 and above becoming the norm, manufacturers still needed room to fit a selfie camera and earpiece (as well as the Face ID sensors, in the case of Apple’s iPhones), so instead of a top bezel, they have a “notch”, cutting into the display to house these hardware elements.

“The punch hole”, as it has been nicknamed, is not a cutout, but the camera itself embedded into the display, with on-screen content surrounding it. It seems Samsung’s next Galaxy flagships will have that, instead of notches, which has some fans up in arms.

The notch hides on-screen content, so will the punch hole. Will it?

I never subscribed to any of the notch worries. The main complaint about it is that it would eat into the on-screen content. Which on-screen content?

When using the phone as normal, in portrait view, the notch is just as deep as the phone’s notification strip, basically implemented as a part of it. Sure, OK, there’s not a lot of room for notification icons now, but nobody likes icon clutter up there anyway.

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What about watching clips in landscape? Most media is currently in 16:9, which means that there will be two black bars on the sides of your screen, boxing the video in. One of these black bars coincides with the dreaded notch. OK, if you are watching film, I concede that 21:9 is the most popular format, in which case the picture will extend enough to be obstructed by the notch. But do we really watch films on our phones on a regular basis?

Games and other apps? Sure, I have noticed the notch eating into content in a couple of games. Like taking a bite out of the text in Vainglory’s tutorial — now that’s not very cool. But I dare argue that this design has been so popular throughout 2018, with multiple Android phones adopting "the notch", that it really falls on the app developers to make sure that these bloopers don’t happen.

Same with the punch hole

From all the leaks and renders that we’ve seen of the Galaxy S10, and from the couple of existing phones that have already been announced, we can see that the “punch hole”, just like the notch, resides at the top of the screen, embedded in the notifications bar. So, there aren’t really that many cases where it would break your experience unless you watch blockbuster movies on your handset on a daily basis. Even then, Samsung's UI might readjust the image to hide the hole, as reported here (which doesn't sound all that thrilling — I hope we are not talking about some major letterboxing here).

Hey, it even leaves tons of spare room for notification icons up there!

So, don’t panic, it’s not that bad

I agree that the hole design might look a bit awkward or off-putting at first sight. It’s not exactly the futuristic, all-screen smartphone we were all hoping to see. With reports that manufacturers are looking for ways to hide the camera under active screen pixels, we may not even have to “put up” with the hole for that long.

But for the time being, it’s not really as bad as the Internet might be making it out to be. Don’t worry, it won’t ruin your games and it won’t hide the videos of your favorite YouTubers. In fact, in a couple of days’ use, you will hardly notice it.

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