When it comes to the iPhone notch, there is great disagreement in the Apple community: some find the notch at the top of the screen ugly and demand that it be banned from the smartphone screen, while others celebrate it as a unique distinguishing feature of an iPhone - similar to the Home button. Others have either got used to their appearance or they didn't care from the start.
Regardless of public opinion, Apple does seem to be looking for ways to reduce the notch, or remove it all together. When the 2021 iPhone launches this autumn it is expected to have a smaller notch. That rumour has been doing the round for some time, since leaker Ice Universe published a 'leaked' graphic on Twitter that showed a narrower notch back in October 2020. Further reports and leaks have followed that back this up, with notorious Apple leaker Jon Prosser confirming that the notch on the iPhone 13 (if that's what the 2021 iPhone is called) it will be smaller.
However, there are also rumours that Apple will bring at least one new model to the market in 2022 with no notch. The iPhone 14 Pro (the 2022 successor to the iPhone 13 Pro, or iPhone 12s Pro) will, according to TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, have a "punch-hole display design".
How will this notch-less design impact on the future of the iPhone?
No notch: what about Face ID?
If Apple's plans are to remove the notch the following question arises: where will they put the Face ID sensors?
Face ID projects more than 30,000 infrared points onto a face in order to create a depth display and a 2D infrared image. "These images are then converted into a mathematical value that is stored in a specially protected area on the iPhone," explains Apple. "Every time you now use Face ID, your face is converted into a mathematical value and this is compared with the reference value stored on the iPhone. If both values are identical, the iPhone unlocks. And just as you can never reconstruct your fingerprint from the reference value of Touch ID, it is impossible to reconstruct your face from the Face ID reference value." All this tech has to live somewhere.
Touch ID under the display, retractable and retractable front cameras with face recognition, even face recognition under the screen: the competition has already shown that there are alternatives - even if these options are not quite as secure as Apple's Face ID. Even Apple recognises that Face ID isn't the be all and end all: the current iPad Air has a Touch ID integrated into the power button.
How a notch-less iPhone could look
It is relatively unlikely that Apple will forego Face ID and switch to a less method. Face recognition will probably only be replaced if Apple has developed an alternative that is at least as secure and practical at the same time - such as fingerprint recognition under the screen. But does an iPhone with Face ID need to have a notch?
An iOS developer has published three different design options on his Twitter account. These show an iPhone that is still equipped with a Face ID, but has no notch.
@OliverJHaslam Sorry for the delay, I finally got around to those mocks. All of these remove the ambient light sensor and sub w/ induction speaker.— Cameron.swift (@CameronD_swift) March 4, 2021
1st- Based on current notch layout
2nd - Based on 11/12 camera module (my fav)
3rd - #2 with under display concept like ZTE Axon 20 pic.twitter.com/KPLJNwP3wv
His concept shows how Apple could use the "punch-hole design" suggested by Kuo. Although in this case "hole" would have to be in the plural. The front camera including Face ID sensors are no longer "hidden" in the notch, but would instead stand out with three small black dots in the display. These can be arranged differently: Either horizontally (as is currently the case with the notch) or as a triangle. A third variant shows a Face ID under the display.
Whether this design is better than the current one including the notch is a matter of taste. We'd rather stick with the notch than have three "holes" in the display.
Update, on April 2021 Indian site, 91Mobiles, shared a bunch of renders showing a smaller iPhone notch. More here: More iPhone 13 renders appear showing smaller notch. Plus, one analyst thinks there will be no iPhone notch in 2023.
This article originally appeared on Macworld Sweden. Translation by Karen Haslam.