Smartphone displays need a bezel. Here's why

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Smartphone displays need a bezel. Here's why
Back in the day before the iPhone 4S, rumor had it that the successor of the iPhone 4 would have a larger display. Furthermore, it was speculated that the iPhone 5, as it was referred to back then, would have a display with no bezel. Or in other words, an edge-to-edge touchscreen. These rumors turned out to be completely wrong.

But the rumor mill knows no rest. It is now speculated that the Samsung Galaxy S III (which has yet to be made official, by the way) will have a display without a bezel on its left and right sides. What's more is that Samsung is allegedly working on another smartphone – the Samsung Galaxy B, which will also lack a bezel around the sides of its display.

Sounds awesome, right? Well, not really. You see, the bezel surrounding your smartphone's display has at least several very good reasons for being there, and we are going to go over them right now.

Firstly, a bezel adds structural integrity to the smartphone and protects it from accidental bumps and drops. If its display extended all the way to the handset's sides, its glass surface would be a lot more vulnerable to cracking. Besides, bezels are there to make touchscreens easier to use. If you are not so sure about that, try the following: get your smartphone and hold it comfortably with a single hand. Now try to touch its display on the side, which is opposite of your thumb. Chances are that the lower part of your thumb will be in contact with or really close to the device's bezel, and if that were sensitive to touch, your smartphone would have a hard time registering your input properly.

But having a bezel around a smartphone's display is not only practical. It also makes the display more pleasant to look at. Let us put it this way: have you ever wondered why pictures tend to look better in a frame? The answer to that has a lot to do with the way we perceive images. You see, a frame acts as a border between the picture and the background, against which it is viewed, thus making it look complete and giving it individuality. As a result, the image stands out as it is separated from its surroundings, which makes it easier for our brain to assimilate the visual information. The bezel on your smartphone's display works in a similar way. Without a bezel, it would be harder for our brains to focus on whatever is displayed on the smartphone's screen, or at least that is the theory.

In a nutshell, eliminating the bezel around a smartphone's display may sound like the next big thing in handset design, but it may turn out to be a not so good idea due to the reasons we just described. However, we are not saying that a smartphone without a display bezel is impossible to make. It is just that whichever company decides to make it should have ways to tackle the aforementioned issues. For example, ensuring that the touchscreen does not register accidental finger contact may be possible with some clever programming.

So, guys and girls, what is your take on the matter? Are display bezels bound for extinction, or are they here to stay? Feel free to share your opinion with us by dropping a comment below.

Mock-up courtesy of Netaholics

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48 Comments

51. Captainjas1

Posts: 1; Member since: May 12, 2016

Okay I see but here is new story... hope someone can solve this problem.... I purchased a galaxy j7 2016 edition from Flipkart.... I see it's black bezel or inner black borders are not at all similar.. I mean either display is not accurate or something I should worried for???? The black borders dont have equal amount of margin I would say... if it's 1.2 mm then other side is 1.5mm.... if I am making sense to you.... :( why it's like this???? It's new phone and everything seems original...also come with 1 year manufacturer warranty.

50. urover

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

Hello 2015, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy Note Edge, Oppo R7 and more...

49. happeningnow

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 03, 2012

well "hello moto" has confirm such a device

48. Asphyxiation

Posts: 3; Member since: Feb 26, 2012

First of all, there will always be a bezel. Even on those fancy televisions, there is a bezel. Even on futuristic technology, you see a bezel. The only thing that will change is that the bezel will be reduced to the smallest possible amount. It might possibly be made transparent, as well. It is still there, though. Second of all, viewing a "bezel-less," or, as I stated before, near "bezel-less," display would not be hard to focus on. Here are the reasons why: I. The screen is alive with colours, II. The screen is constantly changing, III. The eye is an amazing thing -- say you were walking down the sidewalk, looking down at your phone. What would your eyes focus on? The phone. It would not focus on the sidewalk unless you looked past your phone at the sidewalk. It is very easy for our eyes to focus on one particular thing instead of anything else. Ever try to find Waldo? Whenever you are looking for Waldo, even though there is so much clutter, you are still able to find him because you know what you want to look for and as soon as you see what you want, you focus on it. So imagine looking at your vivid phone screen that is most likely changing because you are fidgeting with it and tell me that you cannot focus on it due to there being no frame around the edges.

47. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Bezel should take up at most 10% of the front of the phone. When I look at older phones and/or iphones, all I see is wasted space

45. rallyguy

Posts: 620; Member since: Mar 13, 2012

So why is this not a problem when speculation was the Iphone would have no bezel? Now that the Iphone does have a bezeel, but it's competition does not, suddenly it is a nwgative. I'm getting tired of this crap. What ever the Iphone has is good, and what ever it doesn't have is not needed.

44. Philipb

Posts: 7; Member since: Mar 01, 2012

i like bezel, helps the screen from getting surface scratches

43. W.P._Android_in_that_Order

Posts: 208; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

I disagree. I think that whole "bezel looks nice" thing this is the perception of the person seeing it. PeoPle got use to it, they would like it

41. phoneguru

Posts: 2; Member since: Mar 13, 2012

Any sizable bezel is just wasted area that could be screen space. There is no reason to have a half inch of bezel at the top and bottom of the phone just so the manufacturer can put their logo on the front of the phone. The side bezel should be no more than 1milimeter. This is the way of the future and premium manufacturing. All of you with no vision for the future will see what you're missing out on in the next few months.

40. aakashram2001

Posts: 14; Member since: Mar 13, 2012

its realy funny,when there was a rumour saying that apple iphone 5 to come with edge to edge screen people were praising it like anything,but same thing when samsung brings it in reality then it becomes a very negative aspect why. already nokia has this tecnology posted on the video clips in nokia 700 models pls go through and please be sportive guys

39. u-suck-more

Posts: 529; Member since: Aug 26, 2011

For me i wouldn't want a phone with no bezel. it might look cool and all tt but it would also have a load of problems for sure. At the same time, i also wouldn't want a phone with too much bezel. it would be too ugly. take a look at the Optimus Sol. TOO MUCH BEZEL! I cant believe LG marketed it as a fashion phone here in Singapore.

37. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

...and yes, the bezel size should be minimized. It looks sick with thick lines on the sides.

36. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Why the hell are you guys talking about bezel-less TV? Sure it looks cool, but do you hold your TV on your palm? Think about it... The bezel has a purpose...it can be done without, but it definitely is a protection.

34. TechnoTechyes

Posts: 71; Member since: Jan 24, 2011

Many samsung's TVs are relatively bezel free, I think they look great. I see other TVs with a 2" bezel and I don't think it helps the experience, it look smaller and the drastic contrast makes it look more like a TV than an image. Compare 55" TVs, Samsung has a smaller total frame, but the picture looks bigger (at least to me). As far as phones go, it is a matter of how it works in your hand, and until I see and feel one, I will never know.

31. ajoshi06

Posts: 20; Member since: Dec 08, 2010

they definitely dont have to remove bezel.. but defenitily have to minimize it!!! specially on top, they use too much space for names of manufacturer.. still can be there but be minimized

27. jjjsong

Posts: 76; Member since: Dec 27, 2011

I disagree. I would like to see bezel-less phones myself (my own opinion of course). In terms of bezel protecting the screen. We've already seen flexible OLED screens being tested by hammers. I think that showed enough that the screen seems even more durable than the metalic/plastic bezels. I believe when most people hold their phones, the entire front side of the phone is actually visible - meaning nothing is blocked by the fingers and bezels are only there to waste space.

24. djg71087

Posts: 70; Member since: Oct 10, 2010

well im all about pushing the bar, and i think Samsung is looking "outside the box" in design. Now with flexible screens and technology advances in glass (like Gorrilla Glass 2), why not design something different. For example, we go from cluncky PC's to All-in-One PC's and iMac's, its just the lastest advancement in the tech world.

22. DIYguy

Posts: 190; Member since: Feb 27, 2011

Bezels ftw!

19. JoshuaSailor

Posts: 1; Member since: Mar 12, 2012

What I'd like to see is a tablet with the entire front surface being the screen. No bezel AT ALL ANYWHERE. Edge to edge like a boss. Then just leave a black boarder all the way around that would be reserved for navigation/task management/etc. Kind of like the Galaxy Nexus except have one side dedicated to navigation (Back/Forward/Home/Stop/Reload/Whatev is needed), have one side be reserved for task switching, have side reserved for App specific menus/features, etc. The idea isn't perfect and would require more thought from a design/use perspective, but it seems like it'd be easy to follow, easy to use, and hard to mess up. Plus, it'd get rid of a whole bunch of layering that tends to occur, hiding useful features. Another option would be to allow customization of the sides. IE widget type apps. Make the top bezel contain stock quotes or a volume slider, etc. Maybe add multitouch swiping to allow switching between apps. Make it, prefereably, with a super amoled screen so that it could be ink black and any relevant buttons white. Have them automatically turn off after 30 seconds or something and bring them back by swiping left to right/top to bottom/whatev depending on user preference. If you want to hide them but don't want to wait 30 seconds, swipe the opposite way. This would prevent any accidental interaction, as tends to be one of the primary defenses for keeping the bezel. Obviously, I feel this would be most useful on tablets and not phones as there is much less precious screen real estate on phones. I feel like this could eliminate buttons entirely. (Though there will be some who will espouse the convenience of certain physical buttons, so maybe keep the power/lock buttons and such.) Another argument would be that it's a waste of pixels. There's no arguing this one. You either think it's a good use of pixels or you don't. Personally, I'd rather vastly increase my ability to multitask and use my tablet as a legitimate computer than be able to watch a video with an additional 1/2 inch of picture on each side. Finally, there's power consumption. Frankly, I find it hard to believe that the technology doesn't exist to make this pipe dream a reality with minimal battery drain. I mean, for all intents and purposes, even with all 4 bezels active, we'd be talking 25% of the pixels lit up and, for the majority of use, all 4 bezels would be off.

18. gallitoking

Posts: 4721; Member since: May 17, 2011

remember when I said that no bezel. no way... this supports my theory... in a way

26. EclipseGSX

Posts: 1778; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

No one remembers or cares what you say m'kay

30. gallitoking

Posts: 4721; Member since: May 17, 2011

even better that way i have the liberty to say what i pleased.. thanks for the heads up

29. Cwebb

Posts: 501; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

This just in, Apple announces the iPhone 4$2 will have no bezel... Your thoughts?

33. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

I'll remember that when the i5 bezel free rumors start coming in..

17. Jeromeo

Posts: 135; Member since: Jan 11, 2010

Could someone please create a design that doesn't leave a gap which traps finger oils, dust, dirt, and gunk in between the edge of the bezel and the screen glass?

16. VebbX

Posts: 41; Member since: Feb 26, 2012

Soz, but they have to go, the new thing will be smart covers over the screen. Like a liquid! Soulja Boy, super solve it!

13. VJo003

Posts: 365; Member since: Mar 11, 2012

May be they will use some industrial strength toughened glass which will negate the need of having a bezel

12. rhinoceros

Posts: 33; Member since: Mar 01, 2012

What Andro said

11. tward291

Posts: 559; Member since: Feb 14, 2012

the only form that a bezel-less would be impractical is on a tablet

9. andro.

Posts: 1999; Member since: Sep 16, 2011

We don't want bezel free just minimal bezel. Especially massive unnecessary bezel top and bottom of the screen,this google has aimed to remove by having no physical menu buttons and no doubt the galaxy s3 will have a reduced top and bottom bezel The iphone top and bottom bezel is huge for instance and will continue to be so because of the screen being stuck in the old non widescreen format.

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