We’ve been hearing rumors that Apple would get rid of the notch for ages, but reports to that effect seem to be heating up. Earlier this week, a report by Korean publication The Elec suggested that Apple is getting rid of the notch on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, although it will remain a fixture of the cheaper non-Pro models. Instead, Apple is rumored to use a hole-punch camera, like so many Android phones out there.
I have no concrete information to disprove these leaks. But as much as I’d love for them to be true, the idea that Apple would get rid of the notch now just strikes me as really odd.
The reason is simple: with so many phones sporting nary indistinguishable designs and most people keeping their phones in cases, the notch is one of the few ways Apple manages to differentiate itself from the competition. The notch, outdated as it is, is part of Apple’s modern design language. It’s much the same reason Apple stuck with chunktastic bezels for so long before the iPhone X debuted; having a distinct visual identifier helped Apple maintain the iPhone’s exclusive “luxury’ smartphone status.
Moreover, the company just went through the trouble of trying to make a notch on a laptop acceptable with the new MacBook Pros, despite the fact the laptops don’t offer Face ID. In that case, it’s clear the notch appears to be as much of a design statement as it was a design compromise.
The other bit that strikes me as weird is that a camera cutout would just look so… late in 2022. I mean, we’ve had hole-punch cameras on Android since 2019, and much smaller notches than the iPhone since before the iPhone X. Of course, Apple also has to cram Face ID tech in there, but presumably, it’s found a way around that if it plans on getting rid of the notch now.
After all, we’ve already seen several phones that manage to stick a camera under the display now — anything else would be par for the course at best. And while early iterations of these cameras were not great, more recent models (the ZTE Axon 30 5G in particular), make it so that it’s hard for you to tell there’s a selfie camera at all. Image quality takes a dip, but it improves with every new phone model, and I have no doubt Apple would be able to throw enough resources at the problem to make an under-display camera at least competitive.
I suppose it’s possible Apple could try to make a camera cutout unique in other ways. Some have suggested the company would use a pill-shaped cutout in order to fit Face ID. That would at least help it stand out a bit more, but there have already been multiple Android phones to feature such a design as well, and it would be easy for copycats to imitate the look. That’s kind of what makes the iPhone’s notch, erm special; it’s so obnoxious that only Apple could possibly get away with it. If Apple does get rid of the notch, I’d bet whatever replaces won’t just be your run-of-the mill circular camera cutout.
We’ll have to see whether this leak holds up once actual hardware renders and images start to make the rounds, but until then I’ll consider rumors of the notch’s death to be greatly exaggerated.