Smartphone forecast: Bezels are going out of style in 2017

by Haadi Bakar
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As we are increasingly glued to our smartphones, phone makers are pumping out more, more and more screen real estate on their devices.

Recent advancements in display tech have enabled new smartphones to carry massive screens without enlarging the phones’ overall dimensions to uncomfortable phablet territory.

For instance, the new Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus shows us how their smartphones can be elegant with their edge-to-edge ‘infinity display’. Their design alone instantly pulled the crowd’s attention: the AMOLED screens wrap beautifully to the side giving the illusion of an all-glass handset.

LG also brought a massive 5.7-inch display to its G6, packing the largest pixel densities than any other phones in the market without making the phone too uncomfortable to hold in one hand.

But nothing could prepare us for last year’s Xiaomi Mi Mix with its edgeless 6.4-inch display. With just a single chin at the bottom, the Mi Mix is almost all glass on its face, yet the phone is no bigger than the 5.5-inch Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge!

The Xiaomi Mi Mix boasts a 6.4-inch ‘edgeless’ display. Too bad this phone is only available in China. Image courtesy of Xiaomi.

The next iPhone is also reported to join this edge-to-edge display trend, seeing that having more screen on a comfortably-sized phone is so much better than giving consumers another ‘Plus’ handset.

This trend is also starting to make other phones with bezels that stick out seem less attractive. Though we’ve come a long way since the thick-bezelled and chubby-chinned iPhone 5 and HTC One M7, current flagships such as Sony’s Xperia XZs and HTC’s U Ultra are already showing their age when put side-by-side with the Galaxy S8.

Consumers who have already experienced edge-t0-edge displays in the recent past, particularly on Samsung’s Galaxy Edge lineup (and the short-lived Galaxy Note 7) have enjoyed the merits of having more screen real estate on a small form factor phone.

It’s also an early sign of jumbo-sized phones, or phablets, losing its streak.

When Samsung kicked-off the phablet category with its first Galaxy Note back in 2011, everyone loved it for that massive 5.3-inch display, but not so much for the phone’s gargantuan size. Having a bigger screen to work on was great, but it was also unwieldy to use with one hand.

Even on the iPhone 7 Plus, it takes a lot of effort to navigate your thumb around that massive 5.5-inch display in times when you only have one usable hand. And not a lot of people actually use that Reachability function.

With those bezels sticking out, the Sony Xperia XZs is starting to look dated, and this phone only came out just early this month! Image courtesy of Sony.

With edge-to-edge displays, you have the best of both worlds: a phone that’s as pocketable as they once were, with a display big enough to let users do more.

The only caveat to this is that more glass on a phone means increased vulnerability to damage. With no bezels and chins to protect the screen, a single accidental drop is enough to break it.

This is where screen manufacturers like Gorilla Glass need to up their game. Until then, It’s back to putting on protective cases on your phone.

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