This week marks the fifth anniversary of Apple revealing the iPhone X, one of the biggest redesigns in iPhone history. Among other innovations, the iPhone X introduced a notch to the iPhone with Face ID and a design language that has stuck with it over the last few years.
In memory of the notch turning five this week, we thought we’d take a look back at the history of the iPhone’s display bezels and how they evolved into the pill-shaped piece that they are today.
The Age of Thick Bezels
During the first decade after the debut of the iPhone 2007, all iPhones featured relatively thick bezels at the top, bottom, and sides of the screen. The bezels are black or white, depending on the color of your device. The bezels are very thick at the top and bottom, considering the need to house the front camera, earpiece, and Home Button, which got Touch ID in 2013.
During those early years, Apple barely touched the bezel design around the iPhone screen, retaining the thick “forehead and chin” bezels as the screen gradually grew from 3.5 inches in the first few generations to 5.5 inches with the “Plus” variant. ” from the iPhone 6, 6s, and 7. It wasn’t until 2017 that things started to radically change.
Say Hello to Notch
When Tim Cook announced the iPhone X at the Steve Jobs Theater in 2017, he used Apple’s iconic phrase “One More Thing” to mark the unveiling of the most significant redesign in iPhone history. iPhone X introduces several new features to the iPhone, with the most notable being Face ID which is placed in a new notch that protrudes towards the top edge of the screen.
With significant changes to the iPhone display, Apple has had to rethink how iOS handles content. The new design also means that third-party apps need to be updated to support the notch and be sized correctly for the new look. The notch remained a key design element of the iPhone for four years until it was never touched again.
Notches Get Smaller
With the notch essentially unchanged through the generations of the iPhone X, iPhone XS/XR, iPhone 11, and iPhone 12, Apple has finally managed to reduce its width with the iPhone 13. The notch on the iPhone 13 is made smaller in width but slightly taller. The change is subtle, but it emphasizes Apple’s efforts to minimize and ideally remove the notch, which would see another significant move a year later.
Welcome to Dynamic Island
Five years after the notch debut, Apple has finally moved on, upgrading the notch on the latest iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max into a pill-shaped piece that separates from the display bezel. While the chunks may look like one big pill-shaped screen distraction, they’re actually two separate chunks that are digitally combined and hidden within the iOS user interface via a feature called Apple’s Dynamic Island.
Dynamic Island is an entirely new way to interact with iPhone that integrates pill-shaped chunks into the iOS experience by moving alerts, notifications, and other information to the top of the screen and around chunks, which are digitally resized in response to being displayed. The Dynamic Island has received praise since its launch last week, with some calling it “Apple’s best design work in years.”
With the shift to pill-and-pit shape on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, the question is what comes after Dynamic Island. While the end goal may be a completely unobtrusive design without notches or cutouts, it may be far in the future until the technology to adequately hide the various cameras and sensors under the screen is in place.
Current rumors suggest that Apple is planning to bring Dynamic Island to the standard iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus models next year as the feature drops off the high-end models, so it looks like Apple’s notch replacement is here for at least a few more years. What would you like to see as the next major design change on the iPhone? Let us know in the comments.