Perspective Problems: A wacky comparison to the iPhone X

16 August 2018

When Apple launched the iPhone X last year, the most controversial design feature was undoubtedly the notch. “Why has Apple done this to us?” the people screamed. And then it turned out that it wasn’t a big deal. And then practically every other smartphone manufacturer, even the ones no one had ever, ever heard of, proceeded to rip Apple off with notches of their own. Now Apple’s reign of supremacy over the notch world is over, and we can definitively say that there’s one smartphone manufacturer who’s got Apple beat in the notch game.

Writing for BGR, Jacob Siegal brings us the news: “OnePlus 6T mockups show a tiny notch that puts the iPhone X to shame.”

Oh, right, it’s based on a mockup. The OnePlus 6T is expected to be very similar to the Oppo R17, which is the device that actually has the tiny notch. Uluroo is somewhat confused as to why Siegal didn’t just say that the Oppo R17 puts the iPhone X to shame. Well, he kind of does.

What immediately stands out about the R17 is its notch…

It is about as inoffensive as a notch could possibly be from a design standpoint…

Hence it is the thing that “immediately stands out.”

[Jazz hands]

Let’s just agree to disagree on that design part. Uluroo prefers the iPhone X’s notch, not least because it contains the guts of Face ID. But it just looks better anyway. And iPhone X owners have already spoken: after you use the iPhone X for long enough, the notch isn’t a problem.

More on design: in addition to a notch, the R17 has a noticeable chin bezel. It looks to be close to the same size as the iPhone X’s, but what makes it look so bad is its blunt asymmetry with the side and top bezels. Oppo’s own product page for the R17 doesn’t even include an image that showcases the phone’s entire front side, maybe because it would look terrible with the lopsided bezels. The iPhone X, even with its notch, maintains a look of controlled symmetry.

While Apple carved a huge chunk out of the top of the iPhone X display to make room for the notch, the notch on the R17 is just a small half-circle dipping down from the top bezel.

[Confused glance toward camera]

But… you do realize…

The R17’s notch contains a single selfie camera. The iPhone X’s notch contains the miniaturized Kinect that enables Face ID. Which one would you expect to take up more space?

Comparing a notch like the Oppo R17’s to the iPhone X’s notch without mentioning Face ID at all is about as obtuse as you can get. Face ID is the elephant in the room, and it offers far more utility than a selfie camera. Why isn’t Siegal talking about it? Clearly one would expect a notch that packs more technology to be larger.

This comparison is totally bunk because Apple and Oppo are fighting different battles. There are two major kinds of notches: the ones that have selfie cameras and the ones that have facial recognition. It should not be news to anyone that a single technological component is smaller than several. Props to Oppo for getting such a small selfie-camera notch, but that in no way “puts the iPhone X to shame” or justifies a comparison that ignores Face ID.

This isn’t the first time a notch has been smaller than the iPhone X’s. Even the Essential Phone, which was released before the iPhone X, had a single-camera notch that was quite small. Nobody said it “put the iPhone X to shame” because they were reasonable enough to understand the added utility Face ID brings to the iPhone X’s notch.

It seems that we’re past that, and the smallest notch wins no matter what features larger ones can offer. Uluroo wishes we could analyze new devices by taking into account all that they offer, rather than ignoring their most important features. But maybe he’s asking too much.