The Essential Phone has a weird cutout display

The Essential Phone is now official and one thing you cannot deny about it: it is not afraid to dare and dream big. It competes with the best phones out there: the iPhone and Galaxies, and it dares dream up a new modular system, even after others like LG recently failed spectacularly with their own takes on a modular system. 

The Essential Phone is gutsy.

It is gutsy for one more reason: there is one other small thing that everyone will notice about the Essential Phone from the very first time. Yes, it's that cutout screen. The jury is still out on how to call this: Moto had the notorious 'flat tire' on its smartwatch, but here we don't have a round screen. What we have is a small, but very weird cutout in the middle top section of the display.

Call it the cutout screen, call it 'the crease', or whatever else comes to mind (our bet is that Apple would call it courageous), but you cannot deny its weirdness. And yes, it's definitely a bit ugly.

What do you think about the cutout display on the Essential phone?

I'd live with it, I'd take it as a compromise for an edge-to-edge screen
It annoys me, I prefer a regular display

But what does it mean in practical terms? 

  • What will happen to full screen apps like YouTube? 
  • Will they show black bars at the top? 
  • Or will that small part of a YouTube video simply be missing? 
  • Or do we get to have a choice between these two inevitable evils?

So far, the Essential Phone clearly shows that with wallpapers, there will be no black bars: a small part of the wallpaper will simply be missing. 

Essential owns the cutout: it makes it part of the Android notification tray and it even uses what's on the side for displaying additional controls in apps like the camera. 

This way, the top part of the screen acts a bit like the second screen on the LG V20.

Small peculiarities like this one tend to quickly grow into a huge topic among users and we are already seeing discussion about this being one of the most discussed aspects of the Essential Phone. We measured the size of the cutout: it's about 0.5% of the whole screen, but it is the fact just how noticeable, how up-front and in the center it is, that will make it a polarizing issue.

What do you think about this weird cutout in the screen: is it something that bothers you? Or do you gladly accept this as a necessary evil to get that coveted edge-to-edge screen?

Related phones

  • Display 5.7" 1312 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2450 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 3040 mAh



1. jellmoo

Posts: 2673; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Honestly? That would annoy the heck out of me. I use the front camera so infrequently anyway, it would seem like a huge waste whenever I was viewing content.

3. Bankz

Posts: 2550; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

Meh.. This phone will sell like hotcakes on looks alone. Its even smaller than the gs8 ffs with dual cameras, stock android, ceramic/titanium backs, sd 835, BT 5.0, 128g storage, ufs 2.1, this is an instant hit at the premium market.

4. jellmoo

Posts: 2673; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

I really doubt it, unless they get carrier backing along the way.

6. Cat97

Posts: 2017; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

Look at the poll...not everyone thinks like you.

9. jellmoo

Posts: 2673; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Of course they don't, that's cool. But don't mistake a poll on a mobile tech blog about whether people can live with a camera cutout on the screen for an indicator that the device is going to be a huge sales hit.

5. cmdacos

Posts: 4374; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

If by hotcakes you mean less than 5 million units, then sure.

11. Bankz

Posts: 2550; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

Which is more than impressive for a start. Even lg's/htc/sony/moto flagships doesn't sell as much as these.

13. tedkord

Posts: 17507; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

I sincerely doubt it. Unless the carriers sell it and subsidize it, I'd expect it to flop.

17. lyndon420

Posts: 6914; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Agreed. The more I look at this thing the more I want one. Honestly I think this thing is sleek looking.

23. cdm283813

Posts: 424; Member since: Jan 10, 2015

Your average consumer does not have $700 outright to drop on a phone. A $35 per month S8+ for 24 months looks more attractive than coughing up $700. That's why S8 and Note 8 will be the Android winners this year. This phone needs to be $500 and even that is expensive upfront.

24. KingSam

Posts: 1515; Member since: Mar 13, 2016

Its ugly until apple does it! (Reviewers) But IMO it would probably annoy me. That could be a tiny cutout in the top corner rather than center. Complete with a black front and amoled panel.

2. Myphoneisonfire

Posts: 403; Member since: Sep 05, 2016

It'll just be a black bar with information of the battery , signal strength etc.

7. cmdacos

Posts: 4374; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Not across all apps though. Even the render looks horrible with the hole cutting into the screen.

8. Cat97

Posts: 2017; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

I have no problem with the cutout, actually it gives the phone some personality. But I do have a problem with the fingerprint sensor on the rear, when there was clearly room on the lower bezel for a properly usable sensor. But I do think I could live with this too (and not use it at all - problem solved).

10. libra89

Posts: 2333; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

I think this would bother me because of aesthetics. The bezeless screen is nice but eh, I see it eventually bothering me. Kind of in the same way the Pixel's design did.

12. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3109; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

People will find anything to complain about. You can't satisfy every one.

15. jellmoo

Posts: 2673; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Which really is the point of these discussions though. It's a deal breaker for some, a non-issue for others, and an unknown for yet more. There is no perfect device, so it becomes important to identify and discuss potential shortcomings.

14. tedkord

Posts: 17507; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

That would be an immediate non-starter for me. It would annoy the hell out of me while I was watching Netflix or YouTube.

16. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

No worries, since it's an 18:9 format and Netflix/YouTube doesn't support that format, it will show black bars on all sides anyway ;)

25. KingSam

Posts: 1515; Member since: Mar 13, 2016

Wasn't it 16:10? If its 18:9 they can have a 16:9. video with the extra length just black where the cutout is.

18. talon95

Posts: 1007; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

I think it could have been OK if they had done the 18.5:9 ratio and made the status bar black. There's never anything in the middle of the bar and if there is it can be to the side. I'm not a fan of the FP sensor on the back, but titanium is cool.

19. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

IMO, MiMix camera position is better (even if user need to rotate that phone to get better angle) that cutout will interfere all full-screen apps and videos.. btw, why they only release render image? no pic of the real phone?

20. NoAllegiance unregistered

What if it was placed like LG 2nd display or like Huawei Honor ShotX?

21. 36dbldz

Posts: 15; Member since: Jan 16, 2017

does it double as an do you hear calls on this bad boy

22. monoke

Posts: 1205; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

Would've preferred it moved to the bottom bezel like the Mi Mix if there wasn't gonna be an earpiece as well. And flipping phone wouldn't be too inconvenient since selfie isn't common for someone like myself.

26. tonizheng

Posts: 2; Member since: Mar 29, 2017

Sure thing this phone is no perfect ultimate phone. There's something off about it. Why bottom bezel so thick. How about no bezels at all on all edges?

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