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This week marks the fifth anniversary of Apple revealing the iPhone X, one of the biggest redesigns in the iPhone's history. Among other innovations, the iPhone X introduced the notch to the iPhone with Face ID and a design language that has persisted through the last several years.

iPhone-X-2022-Upload.jpg

In memory of the notch turning five years old this week, we thought we'd look back at the history of the iPhone's display bezels and how they have evolved into the pill-shaped cutout it is becoming today.

The Thick Bezel Era

iPhone-6s-Front.jpg

For the first decade following the iPhone's 2007 debut, all iPhones featured relatively thick bezels at the top, bottom, and sides of the display. The bezels were either black or white, depending on the color of your device. The bezels were particularly thick at the top and bottom, given the need to house the front-facing camera, earpiece, and the Home Button, which gained Touch ID in 2013.

Throughout those initial years, Apple hardly touched the bezel design around the iPhone's display, keeping the thick "forehead and chin" bezels as displays gradually grew from 3.5 inches in the first few generations to as large as 5.5 inches with the "Plus" variants of the iPhone 6, 6s, and 7. It wasn't until 2017 that things started to radically change.

Say Hello to the Notch

iphone-x-notch.jpg

When Tim Cook announced the iPhone X at the Steve Jobs Theater in 2017, he used Apple's iconic "One more thing" phrase to mark the unveiling of the most significant redesign in the iPhone's history. The iPhone X introduced several new features to the iPhone, with the most notable being Face ID housed in a new notch that protruded into the top edge of the display.

With that significant change to the iPhone's display, Apple had to rethink how iOS handled content. The new design also meant that third-party apps needed to be updated to support the notch and be sized correctly for the new display. The notch remained a key design element of the iPhone for four years until it was ever touched again.

The Notch Gets Smaller

iPhone-13-vs-iPhone-12-notch-comparsion-zooomed.jpg

With the notch remaining essentially unchanged through the iPhone X, iPhone XS/XR, iPhone 11, and iPhone 12 generations, Apple finally managed to reduce its width with the iPhone 13. The notch on the iPhone 13 was made smaller in width but slightly taller. The change was a subtle one, but it emphasized Apple's efforts toward minimizing and ideally removing the notch, which would see another significant step a year later.

Welcome to Dynamic Island

flighty-iphone-14-digital-island.jpg

Five years after the notch's debut, Apple is finally moving on, upgrading the notch on the latest iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max to a pill-shaped cutout separated from the display bezel. While the cutout may look like one large pill-shaped display intrusion, it is actually two separate cutouts digitally merged and hidden within the iOS user interface through a feature Apple calls Dynamic Island.

Dynamic Island is an entirely new way to interact with the iPhone that integrates the pill-shaped cutout into the iOS experience by moving alerts, notifications, and other information to the top of the display and around the cutout, which digitally resizes to respond to what's being displayed. Dynamic Island has received praise since its unveiling last week, with some calling it the "best design work from Apple in years."

What's Next?

Beyond-iPhone-13-Better-Triad.jpg

With the shift to a pill-shape and hole-punch cutout on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, the question becomes about what comes after the Dynamic Island. While the end goal may be a fully unintrusive design with no notch or cutouts, that may be far out in the future until the technology to adequately hide the various cameras and sensors beneath the display exists.

Rumors currently suggest that Apple is planning to bring Dynamic Island to the standard iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus models next year as the feature trickles down from the highest-end models, so it seems likely that Apple's notch replacement is here to stay 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 down in the comments.

Article Link: A Walk Down Memory Lane: Evolution of the iPhone Display Bezels and Notch
 

city_17

macrumors member
Oct 25, 2021
69
127
I think Apple is brilliant to turn a controversial design element into a feature. However it looks awful when viewing video. Also I think people will call it the pill and not dynamic island. It blows my mind that this is the feature people care so much about.
The fact that a minor feature hiding a 'negative' feature (the pill) is considered the biggest announcement of a new iPhone says enough about the lack of innovation.

Still don't think that's really Apple's fault, it's just the maturity of the market. Except for maybe foldables, phones have reached their final form for now.
 

JHBrown

macrumors member
Oct 22, 2012
54
84
Southern California
I think Apple is brilliant to turn a controversial design element into a feature. However it looks awful when viewing video. Also I think people will call it the pill and not dynamic island. It blows my mind that this is the feature people care so much about.
It blows your mind because you are not accepting that people have personal choices in what they find exciting. This is then a personal problem for you. For many, doing things like viewing video, does not change their personal choice, or excitement.
 

Eldaerenth Faexidor

macrumors 6502
Aug 30, 2022
427
1,893
I hope that the next iPhone I’ll buy, let’s say in 3 years from now, has better upgraded speakers with more immersive sound capabilities. Maybe a next-level object based speaker system. Immersive sound makes everything so much cooler.
 

Shreducator

Cancelled
Oct 17, 2020
201
307
It blows your mind because you are not accepting that people have personal choices in what they find exciting. This is then a personal problem for you. For many, doing things like viewing video, does not change their personal choice, or excitement.
I agree to each your own.
 

giggles

macrumors 6502a
Dec 15, 2012
926
993
What if the notchless iPhone 16 Pro will work this way:

- black Dynamic Island most of the time during regular usage (with the pixels above the under-display-camera turned off), just like the 14 Pro

BUT

- actually notchless when you're watching a full screen video in landscape


This way it would keep the distinctive Dynamic Island but also leverage its "notchlessness" when in landscape.
 

Cromulent

macrumors 604
Oct 2, 2006
6,514
525
The Land of Hope and Glory
I think Dynamic Island (what?) is actually a brilliant solution and something that deserves praise. Seems like Apple being truly creative again. Under screen cameras are not there yet and a compromise I wouldn’t take.
I agree. Every phone needs to show notifications etc.; hiding them in the notch area is an excellent way to free up the rest of the screen for the more important stuff.
 
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macrumors 6502
Sep 21, 2016
436
2,086
Over the history of the iPhone I have had, 3G, 4, 5s, 6, 6s, 8plus, X and 12.

Favourite form factor was the 4. Best feel without case was the X.

But the bit of Kit I miss most was my 1st Gen ipod nano, 1GB, with capacitive click wheel (remember when iTunes was a useable music database, not like the ridiculous GUI of Apple Music today)
 
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