Why Is Everyone Ignoring the Smartphone “Chin” Problem?
December 3, 2018 Andrew Cheng

Display notches on smartphones, like it or not, are here to stay. Since the iPhone X debuted with a notch – though it was the Essential Phone that did it first – many other smartphone makers released their own take on notched displays. In a bid to maximise display area, the notch is a necessary evil, for the lack of a better word.

However, it’s odd how these very same phone makers are not following suit with the iPhone X’s other design element: a “chin-less” display. So far, there are practically no other phones that have a display like the new iPhones, and that’s unfortunate.

So the question is, why is everyone still focusing on “solving” the notch problem? Eventually, manufacturers will have to address the chin problem too if they really want to realise the “all-screen dream.” With that in mind, we’re gonna take a look at how Apple managed to eliminate the chin, and how other phone makers can possibly do it as well.

Let’s start with the iPhone X, which arguably started it all. Its notch aside, the phone practically has no bottom bezel, and this sleek design is brought over to the iPhone XS and XS Max too. The iPhone XR, on the other hand, doesn’t exactly have the same aesthetic.

While it doesn’t technically have a chin, the bezels surrounding the phone are much thicker than those found on the more expensive iPhone models. This, in turn, effectively hides the chin. It’s a smart workaround, and it doesn’t look half bad – unless you put it next to the iPhone XS.

So why does the iPhone XR have thicker surrounding bezels than its higher-end siblings? Simple: it’s using an LCD panel. The thing is, the iPhone X and its successors’ chin-less displays are achieved with their flexible OLED panels.

Popular YouTuber Marques Brownlee explained this very well in his video above. Basically, Apple folds the iPhone X’s display at the bottom in order to make room for the ribbon connecting the screen to the phone’s logic board. Obviously, this cannot be replicated with the iPhone XR, which uses a rigid LCD panel instead.

Not only is this a costly method to eliminate the chin, it also makes the phone thicker as a result. But hey, it’s a sacrifice Apple was willing to make, and it gives the iPhone X and its successors a display no other phone maker managed to replicate…yet.

Is it possible for Android manufacturers to use the same method? Sure, it’s very probable. Chances are, it’s a question of whether or not they’re willing to do it. After all, not many smartphone makers can follow Apple’s premium pricing strategy with its iPhones.

That being said, once there’s a more cost-effective way to remove the display chin, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to assume that more smartphones will sport chin-less displays. However, it’s still up to phone makers to figure out a more efficient method of doing this, and that’s assuming it’s an “issue” these manufacturers are actually looking into.

Considering the creative ways phone makers are solving the notch conundrum – I’m a fan of the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3‘s sliding mechanism – it would’ve been fantastic if they can eliminate the bottom bezel too. Aesthetically, it also looks much more symmetrical to have equal amount of bezel at the top and bottom of the display.

And of course, we’ll finally have a true all-screen smartphone. No notch. No camera hole. No chin.

But until that day comes, the iPhone X, XS, and XS Max will remain to be the very few phones without a noticeable smartphone chin. In fact, even the iPhone XR is somewhat in the same category too, though it doesn’t look quite as sleek or elegant as its more costly siblings.

Personally, I’m looking forward to the possibility of an Android smartphone without any noticeable chin. While it won’t be the first phone to do it, it’ll definitely capture a lot of attention in the Android space.