Versus: For and against curved edge smartphone displays

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Versus: For and against curved edge smartphone displays
The display is arguably the most important part of a smartphone. With text messaging pushing away calls as the main way of communicating and video becoming the go-to entertainment on your mobile device, the screen largely determines if you'll have a good time or not. A few years ago, Samsung decided to introduce a new type of display – one with curved edges.

The shape allowed for display borders to become thin and almost unnoticeable, giving the phones a sleek and eye-catching look. At the time, this design approach was little more than an experiment, but it quickly became the part of what Samsung's flagships are known for. Nowadays, more and more manufacturers are going for curved displays on their premium models. However, not everyone finds the curves attractive, including some members of our team. So we decided that our second Versus article will be about the pros and cons of curved edge displays. Now let's see what each side has to say!


In defense of curved edge displays


Peter Kostadinov

Peter Kostadinov

Okay, I’m not entirely convinced that curved screens are the next best thing since sliced bread, but after looking back on my smartphone usage over the past year, it dawned on me that I’d used phones with curved screens for most of the time. My heavy rotation consisted of the Galaxy S9+, Galaxy Note 9, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, and aside from a very short and unsuccessful switch to the Galaxy S10e, all these devices had those saucy curves that many people love to hate on.

Don’t get me wrong – I am totally not a fan of the ghost touches, the reduced grip on the sides, and the glare in bright lighting conditions. All of those are legit issues that I experience almost daily with any of the phones I mentioned above.

Still… I’m convinced that curved screens are an acquired taste that slowly grows on you as you use the device.

The aesthetics of a curved screen have grown on me – they really help elevate the premium feel of a device, giving it that super-sleek futuristic look that I love. It also creates the illusion of a slimmer device, which is certainly a desired effect these days. Additionally, thanks to curved screens, we’ve had that bezel-minimizing effect on the sides of the phone, which I definitely like a lot.
 
Versus: For and against curved edge smartphone displays

Granted, those could be the only upsides of this controversial design element, and I admit that from a usability standpoint, devices with curved displays are not the very best ones out there.

Another cool feature that isn’t necessarily exclusive to phones with curved screens – but is found on many of them – is Samsung’s Edge panels. I admit that I’m a fan of Samsung, and every time I’ve used a Samsung device, I’ve offloaded some of my most common features and shortcuts to the Edge panels on the side. For example, instead of a cluttered home screen with tons of distracting colorful app icons, I put a dozen of those in the Apps edge. As an added bonus, I’ve recently been putting commonly used multi-screen combinations of apps in the Apps edge panel.

Technically speaking, a curved display is not a prerequisite for Samsung’s edge-related functionalities as proven by the Galaxy S10e, but saying that this feature is mostly exclusive to such devices wouldn’t be that long of a shot.

Against curved edge displays


Georgi Zarkov

Georgi Zarkov

I’ll agree with my colleague Peter on one point, and that is that there is an advantage in terms of looks. However, as soon as you turn the display on, that advantage pretty much disappears. What you’re left with are two lines of reflections and a slight color distortion along the curved edge of the screen, as if something has gone wrong with it. I think that when your phone is a device that’s almost entirely about its functions, it seems illogical to worsen your user experience for the small benefit of better looks. You’re basically losing parts of the display just for the sake of vanity, and as a result, the phone feels even taller and narrower than the display's aspect ratio already made it, but without the benefit of being easier to hold. 

You can clearly see the reflection along the edge of the curved display

You can clearly see the reflection along the edge of the curved display

As it was already mentioned, the only function that's closely related to the curvature of the display, the side-swipe menus, can be implemented in regular screens just as easily. The only reason this feature suits curved edge displays better is that the tab that you pull from the edge is somewhat hidden by the curved glass. 

Which leads me to the next gripe I have with curved displays – they’re more vulnerable to damage. If you’re the type of user that is prone to drop things, such phones are your worse enemy. One fall at the wrong angle and it’s time for repairs. And as you might have guessed, these displays aren’t cheap either. Even if you don’t drop it, the bulged out shape of the display is more prone to scratches which are often enough to ruin your experience.

Of course, you can always go for a case. Most slim-fit cases, however, don’t cover the edges of the display because, you know, they’re pretty and you want to look at them. If you want proper protection, you have to get a bulky and usually ugly case, basically negating the only real advantage of the curved display – the aesthetics, and make it harder to use any edge functionality in the process. So why even bother? Well, maybe because you had no choice to begin with.

In a frustrating turn of events (at least for my camp), instead of this fad dying out, it’s only becoming more prevalent. Huawei’s latest flagships, the Mate 20 Pro and the P30 Pro now have curved edge displays as well and it appears that even OnePlus will jump on the trend with its OnePlus 7 Pro model. So in many cases, if you want the best a brand has to offer, you're stuck with a curved display. And while there are usually flat-screened alternatives, there's always some spec that's been downgraded, making that option inferior.

Curved displays are one of those features that look good in promotional materials but once you have to live with them, you see that there’s hardly any benefit. If they disappear tomorrow, I don’t think many will miss them. But maybe I'm wrong? Let us know what’s your opinion in the poll below!

Do you like smartphones with curved edge displays?

Yes, curved displays make the phone look and feel better!
30.26%
No, it's a gimmick I want to see gone!
56.68%
It doesn't matter to me. I don't even notice it.
13.06%

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33 Comments

1. kiko007

Posts: 7491; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

I don't really mind either way (as long as the screen is of quality) but I suppose I prefer a flat display out of sheer familiarity.

25. tuminatr

Posts: 1106; Member since: Feb 23, 2009

I prefer a non curved display for the reason that it seems to be easier to protect with a case.

2. Takeharu

Posts: 283; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Got a Galaxy Note 9 which is my first phone with curved edges, don't care about them but I don't hate them either.

3. libra89

Posts: 2259; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

I stand with the against viewpoint. Not only is the reflection annoying, the fact that it is easily damaged is a no for me. I have only owned one phone with curved edges but I hated it. I have always used phones with flat edges...

19. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3944; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Not to mention the added vulnerability he talked about, curved displays don't even have a good selection of glass screen protectors and cases for that reason. I see cases now for phones that use to come with a built in protector but the curved version has the protector removed, curves have no benefit other than looks and it just proves how vain we are that they are still around.

4. EC112987

Posts: 1213; Member since: Nov 10, 2014

I personally hate curved displays. I buy the note because it’s my favorite phone series but a flat note 10 would change everything.

5. Carlitos

Posts: 648; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

Don't care about the curves much They make the phone look really pretty and distinguished compared to all other phones and actually like the feeling on the fingertips when i use UI elements that involve swiping from the side (Edge panels, back gesture, hamburger menus) Ive noticed the glare on the sides and honestly they rarely show and when they do it's when i'm viewing the phone at an extreme side angle like how they used for the picture above. But thankfully i like to look at my phone straight ahead Accidental touches never been much of an issue, just learned how to hold the phone differently pretty quickly. Thankfully Samsung has also released an app that completely blocks touches from the curves

6. Whitedot

Posts: 725; Member since: Sep 26, 2017

I hope non-curved srceens will bounce back.

7. dritani

Posts: 18; Member since: Oct 14, 2013

I just don't like curved displays: simple as that!

8. User123456789

Posts: 587; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

How can someone defend it? There is no benefit ... I had few minutes experience with s6 edge. Awful, I thought I was gonna drop it anytime.

11. drunkenjay

Posts: 1647; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

to be fair, s6 edge was very curved compared to the newer galaxy line ups.

32. KakashiHatake4444

Posts: 74; Member since: Jul 30, 2018

Don't blame anyone because you're clumsy

9. Chris_ABN

Posts: 187; Member since: May 16, 2018

While curved edges serve no real purpose besides minimizing the bezels. I love my S9+

10. j_grouchy

Posts: 164; Member since: Nov 08, 2016

Only thing I don't like about my S9+ is the difficulty in protecting it properly. About the only protection you can get that is worth anything is the Whitestone Dome, which is way expensive.

12. splus

Posts: 147; Member since: Nov 26, 2011

Curved screens don't have one single Pro reason except they maybe look nice on a phone. They're not nice to use, read text or watch videos. I'll never buy a phone with a curved screen, even if it's $100 cheaper than the same phone with a flat screen!

17. torr310

Posts: 1627; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

hahaha! You are right!

13. HildyJ

Posts: 334; Member since: Aug 11, 2012

Would anyone think their new 40" 4k TV would be better if it had a curved edge display? No? Case closed.

14. Cat97

Posts: 1774; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

The only advantage is that curved edges make the phone narrower. There may also be an aesthetics advantage. However, there are multiple disadvantages: - The sides of the phone get a lot thinner, increasing the change that you will drop it and decreasing comfort of using it; - It's near impossible to find a good screen protector for it; - The cases are a lot less effective at protecting the screen in case of a drop; - Accidental touches are much more likely So basically there are just too many disadvantages.

15. monoke

Posts: 1145; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

Gimmick. Why would I want images/videos appearing narrower than it should be? And edge glares? What's the positive in that?.. 'But but the phone can be 2-3mm less in width.'.. Like really?

16. torr310

Posts: 1627; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

How about make it flat and bring down the sales price?

18. wickedwilly

Posts: 587; Member since: Sep 19, 2018

Having used curved screens since they started to appear, I have to say the disadvantages are nowhere near as bad as is made out. I always use a case, all phones are vulnerable to drops especially when made of glass, so my phones are no more liable to break than flat screened ones. Even without a case, drop tests have shown flat screens fare no better and often worse. Familiarity with the use of a curved edge as well as the use of a case virtually eliminates false touches, those who complain tend to not have used one or only fleetingly. I have no problem finding excellent screen protectors either, they may be a little more expensive, but then am using an expensive phone.

20. Deadeye37

Posts: 288; Member since: Jan 25, 2011

Sorry, I have to protect my investment, so I want a case that will protrude slightly above the screen so that if I drop the phone, there is a lot smaller chance of the screen getting scratched/cracked. A curved display basically negates this. My other issue with going virtually bezeless & having curved displays is that you get ghost touches if you grip the sides of your phone. If you have a phone case (like I mentioned earlier), the lip of the case makes getting swipes at the edges of the display harder to register. But they do look pretty.

21. jchgaming69

Posts: 1; Member since: Feb 01, 2017

Curved displays have made it very hard for companies to make good tempered glass screen protectors. Most of the curved tempered glass screen protectors (with the exception of LOCA glue based one's like whitestone dome) are terrible and to me a good Tempered glass screen protector is necessary to protect your phone screens from scratches and especially drops.

29. Larry_ThaGr81

Posts: 559; Member since: May 26, 2011

I couldn't agree with you more and this one of the reasons why I purchased a fully protective phone case because I can't rely on the plastic screen protector that the s10 and s10+ come with to protect my screen in the event of a drop. I'm not saying tempered glass will always protect my phone in case of a drop either, but it will more than likely protect the display vs a plastic screen protector.

30. Larry_ThaGr81

Posts: 559; Member since: May 26, 2011

True story, I work for a package delivery company and my s8 Active with a flat display was blown by a strong gust of wind out of my jacket shirt pocket that was hanging on the back of my seat and out the passenger side of the truck traveling 50mph. Thanks to the tempered glass and the fact that my phone was fully protected inside a holster with the screen facing forward, I had to replace the tempered glass, the phone case and the only reminder that I have of the incident is a very tiny ding in the display bezel on the bottom right. I simply can't say enough about tempered glass screen protectors and fully protective phone casing.

22. bucknassty

Posts: 1311; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

gimmick to those who don't use them....

23. MarmiteTheDog

Posts: 188; Member since: Jul 31, 2017

Flat display with nicely curved glass has been easily the nicest setup to use.

24. frequency

Posts: 102; Member since: Aug 13, 2013

hate curved, the screen is so easy to break

26. Voodooman

Posts: 26; Member since: Oct 20, 2017

I voted that I like them, but here I can say that I hate them! I do not like them, but this didn't stop me from buying the Galaxy S10. I feel that I lose a lot of screen real estate, but the handset feels good in the hand and looks nice. I cannot make up my mind!

27. TBomb

Posts: 1205; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

Never used curved because I'm not a huge fan of Samsung, but I can see the advantages. The glass already slopes down on the edges for flagships anyways... the Edge Sense or whatever it's called seems nice.

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