The Bezeled Truth: are edge-to-edge screens practical for real-world use? [POLL]

no bezels

Earlier this week we got our hands on the Sharp Aquos Crystal and its amazing “edge-to-edge” display. The specs of the phone are no more than a simple mid-range device, but the display alone has drawn a lot of attention. The “bezel-less” phone has been a dream for tech geeks for a long time. We’ve seen these devices on Star Trek and other sci-fi media, but they have eluded the real world.

The appeal of a device with no bezels is clear. As displays get bigger and bigger so do devices. If you could eliminate all the area around the display it would be much easier to hold. The Aquos Crystal is one of the closest devices we’ve seen to the bezel-less dream, despite having a big “chin” bezel. I’m still not sold on the idea. Are phones without bezels practical to use in the real world?

sharp-aquos-crystal-10

The big problem with a device that has no bezels is where your hand goes. If there is no bezel around the display you have to hold the device awkwardly in order to not accidentally trigger a touch. Some devices have deliberately been made with larger bezels in order to accommodate the way people will hold it. Those bezels are serving an important purpose. Imagine trying to play a game in landscape mode with nowhere to put your thumbs. This is a problem that some companies are already addressing.

Some phones with minimal bezel have a display that can detect when your hand is accidentally touching the display. When this happens it will ignore those touches so you can still interact with the device normally. This is great, but it doesn’t completely solve the problem. Your hand may not be triggering incorrect touches, but it’s still blocking something from your view. What good is a big bezel-less device if your hand and fingers are constantly blocking part of the screen?

I’m not ready to jump into the world of no bezels, but I know many of you are. Right now I think bezels serve a very important purpose. Some devices do come with a ridiculous amount of bezel (ahem, HTC One M8), but most devices do a good job of trimming it down. Do you have any of the same concerns that I do? Are you dying to buy a phone with no bezel? Let us know in the poll and comments below!

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  • Del373

    I get the landscape mode argument, but when holding a device in portrait this line of reasoning becomes invalid. I can’t think of a single person who wraps their digits around the sides of the phone to the front when holding it landscape.

    My personal taste would be a phone with little/no bezel on the sides (portrait) and then symmetrical top and bottom bezels. That would give it a nice even appearance and would at least partially solve the issue of where your thumbs go for landscape viewing.

    I hesitate to use this example here, but something like an iPhone with no bezel on either side…and maybe less bezel on the top/bottom.

    • germ.sws

      when holding in portrait, EVERYONE’S hand will wrap around the edge just a little bit unless you hold it with your fingertips, but thats not practical. i personally hold my phone in my palm with 3 points of contact on the phone most of the time…. the “butt” of my thumb, tip of thumb, and at least one finger on the opposite site. at a minimum, the “butt” of my thumb overlaps the edge of the phone. if no bezel, then that could register a touch on the scree that is not wanted.

      • malcmilli

        i hold it similarly to you, except i don’t have an issue hittng the screen in portrait mode. My fingers rest on the sides as well as the thumb meat you describe, if the phone is small than i can easily reach the other side without stretching. If the phone is big and i need to stretch, then my thumb is a little more elevated so i can reach the other side, and my thumb butt doesnt hit the screen due to the elevation.

        • germ.sws

          i dont have an issues either, but i am also not using a bezel-less phone either.

          • malcmilli

            the g3 is the closest i’ve been to bezel-less

          • germ.sws

            i stay away from samsung like the plague. touchwiz is horrible, and i hated paying 500+ for plasiticy pos. last samsung phone i had was the Vibrant, and it will be the last. that just my personal pref. HTC and LG have some great UI’s IMO, but vanilla is the way to go.

            edit, my bad, i read S3, not G3, lol.

          • xjedinerdx

            The Note Series is Amazing. Best hardware despite TouchWiz

          • meyerweb

            Plasticy, yes. POS, not hardly? Samsung’s plastic phones are virtually indestructible, and unlike HTC’s metal phones don’t dent, and the finish doesn’t chip or wear off. And the G3 that you apparently think is OK is also 100% plastic.

          • germ.sws

            i think the POS was taken a different way than what i intended. for example, a similar unibody plastic build is used in a number of sub $200 phone, ex. LG L90 which is $140 outright, and it felt the same if not better than any non Note series samsung phones. the POS part is due to the fact that in MY experience with Samsung smart phones and the Touch Wiz interface has not been a good one. I bought the Samsung Vibrant when it first came out, outright, for like $500. I returned the phone FIVE TIMES before i finally asked for my money back. so yes, in my opinion, my experience is that Samsungs smartphones have been a POS. not only that, i have had many co workers using the S2, S3, and S4, and every single one of them have had some issue with their phone. most recently, my coworkers S4 charging port took a dump and will no longer charge the phone. the phone is less than a year old. and i am sure he hasnt abused it since he is the web developer for our company and i am the tech support/help desk for our company.

      • irishrally

        Speak for yourself. The phone rests in my hand and is supported on the side edges on the back of the phone and a little bit on the side faces. My hands or fingers never touch the top edges near the bezel.

        • germ.sws

          first off, i did speak for myself and it sounds like you are a fingertip holder, which is not common and was address in my post.

          i will go out on a limb and say that the vast majority of users will hold there phone like picture 2 in the article, or a variation of it (which is what i do). never did i say that people hold it like picture 1 in the article.

          i will also go out on a limb and say that you are part of a minority on how you hold your phone.

          maybe this could be a poll question on phandroid????

          edit – if you use one handed, and use your thumb, how do you NOT have some skin not overlap?

          • meyerweb

            To be honest, you didn’t “speak for yourself.” You said “EVERYONE.” I capital letters. That’s an assumption you just can’t make.

            Those few people who have actually handled the Aquos, and reported on it, have universally said it feels great, and haven’t complained about accidental touch activation. What makes you think you know more about it that the people who have actually used it?

          • germ.sws

            i did say everyone, yes, but the next sentence i explained my side.

            as far as those few people, sure they handled it, but i would be interested to see how many of them used it for more than a few minutes. I want their review when they have used it for a couple weeks. I say this because there have been MANY reviews of phones that went quite well on the initial review only later to have a not as good review once they were able to use the phone for a week or two.

            initial thought and impression reviews are just that. i want a real world use review.

  • improvius

    No bezel, please. If I really want to have bezels, I’ll just slap on an Otterbox.

  • Andy Kaylie

    What’s the first thing most do when they get that new phone? Get that new phone case! Instant bezel for your fingers to rest on, but now the phone isn’t as wide post case.

    • sdrawkcab25

      Now you would need a bezel free case or the case would be covering usable screen space…

  • King_James_The_Wicked

    My G3 is about as little bezel as I want.

  • Chimphappyhour

    The edge of my palm ends up activating stuff on the Note 3 which has fairly thin bezels on the sides. After that, I’m all for a good bezel.

  • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

    Zero bezel means it’s impossible to securely fit a case and is easier to crack the edges of the glass, so I vote minimal bezel.

    On the sides, up to 3mm is fine, and on the top and bottom (chin) up to 1cm is fine with me, especially since these areas should always house awesome stereo speakers (and no buttons) on my dream device.

    • germ.sws

      I 95% agree with you. only thing different is that i personally like my buttons off the screen, but rather on the chin of the device. dont like them using those buttons for valuable real estate on the screen.

      • chris_johns

        ooh yes sooooo valuable

      • Marc Perrusquia

        I dunno I think softkeys, especially stock just look elegant, I can understand why somebody would want the extra real estate for things, but they go away for video and some games are finally getting immersion mode. I think the best of both worlds would be having both like the one plus one that’s pretty much a perfect example of what android is all about choice.

    • meyerweb

      I don’t use a case on any of my phones, so that doesn’t bother me at all.

      • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

        Yeah, well, most polls consistently show over half of people DO use cases all the time (and another XX% use ‘em sometimes).

        • meyerweb

          And most statistics o the internet are made up out of whole cloth. Here’s one article that says only 40% use cases: http://gizmodo.com/5420874/forty-percent-of-you-clowns-use-a-case-on-your-phones

          No, I don’t think this is the final word, either. I’m sure there are other articles that provide different numbers. The point is you shouldn’t put too much stock in any of them.

          But so what? My statement was about what matters to me, not about what other people do. If you want to use a case, and can’t put one on a particular phone because the bezels are too small, then don’t buy that phone. Just as I choose not buy some phones (like the HTC One) because the bezels are so huge.

          • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

            “But so what”

            The “so what” is just that phone manufacturers won’t want to shoot themselves in the foot by pissing off the huge percentage of buyers who use cases, so we’ll probably never see that many completely zero-bezel devices (even when possible). Also, many phone manufacturers make $ off their own “official” cases.

            (EDIT: Actually, if zero-bezel devices did end up being a thing, which I doubt, I suppose cases could somewhat be accommodated as long as there was a fool-proof way of attaching them, such as with torx screws at the corners. Not snap-on/snap-off easy, but doable.)

          • meyerweb

            Just as no manufacturer is going to shoot themselves in the foot by making huge phones that the majority of people think are too big? Oh, wait! Or make phones without removable batteries when many consumers really value that option?

            The market it all about differentiation and designing products to fit market niches. If manufacturers were only targeting the largest possible market for each device, all the phones on the market would look pretty much the same. Instead, manufacturers make phones from less than 4 inches to 6 inches, with metal chassis and plastic, with and without removable batteries and SD cards, with a wide variety of memory, resolution, and processor specs, rounded corners, square corners, and a host of other options.

            There’s room in the marketplace for a wide variety of solutions, including “zero bezel” designs. The fact that you won’t buy it doesn’t mean lots of other people won’t.

            As far as case designs, just look at the Samsung Tab S, which has a cover that snaps onto the back of the phone. That could easily be adapted to zero-bezel phones.

    • dara_parsavand

      Exactly. 2-3 mm sides, 7-10 mm top and bottom (with stereo speakers and stereo mics allowing you to talk with the phone either direction and to record stereo audio).

      I can also do without the home button. Though I don’t own an LG G3 (I have a Samsung Note 2), what I read about the double tap function on the LG makes me think that it can substitute for the home button well enough.

  • URABUS0924

    What kind of ham fisted ogre holds a phone like that?

  • J Cav the Great

    LGs got the right idea.

  • meyerweb

    This poll is really meaningless. Asking a bunch of people, the vast majority of whom haven’t held even a G3, much less the new Aquos, produces no useful data. Asking the same question a year from now might product useful data.

  • Barry D.

    I think a minimal bezel is a good thing. It seems like without a bezel the edges of the screen would crack easier. Also if you put the phone in a case some of the screen will be covered which besides covering it might cause some touch issues.

  • Elizabeth Randy

    I hesitate to use this example here, but something like an iPhone with no bezel on either side…and maybe less bezel on the top/bottom.

    • 5hri

      Basically you mean LG G2 or G3 :)

  • chris_johns

    moto x and g2 had it right

  • Andrew torres

    They just need to create the virtual bezel with software, n this should be no problem at all….the full screen is in use, but about 2-4mm around the sides of the phone remain useless. when holding a phone tightly the skin from your palm and the middle finger can set off the screen to go crazy, about a good 4+mm on to the screen from the edge…most hold phones lightly while in use….if we can simulate a no reaction zone similar around the phone with a virtual bezel as thick as the one on the sides of the htc M8 then this shouldnt be a problem. one thing that would look weird because of the virtual bezel’s are having keyboards end at the border where the virtual bezel begins. it would look a lil weird but i can deal with it as long as the whole screen can display somethin in the Virtual bezel areas…

    • EarlyMon

      You want to pay money to simulate bezels on an active display rather than get the same results with cheap plastic? I don’t follow you…

      • dara_parsavand

        The reason you aren’t following is that you forgot about the display function of the display. Andrew is simply stating that it is easy for the OS to accommodate bezel less phones by making a (in my mind user configurable) parameter that determines how many pixles of the screen don’t respond to touch input. This is exactly the right idea and I’m amazed it hasn’t been implemented already.

        For my perfect phone, give me 2 mm bezels on the sides and a symmetric minimal bezel (7 mm perhaps, no more than 10) to hold two front facing speaker ports, mic on both sides, FFC on one side, and a light sensor. I don’t care how thick the phone is in the center (within reason), but it should be thinner near the edges. 5.5″ to 6″ display.

        Dara

        • EarlyMon

          Pretty sure that I didn’t forget about the display function of the display.

  • CGS

    I don’t get the hate against bezels. They’re fine. Perfectly fine. I think the edge-to-edge screen look is far uglier than having a thin bezel separating the glass from the edge. That phone pictured is not something I’d ever buy.

    • dhinged

      I agree, I think bezel-less sides are ugly. A nice border around the screen looks as nice as the border around a painting, a picture, or a TV screen. People complain about letterboxes around movies on their laptops so we all have squished laptop screens but they want the same look on their phones?

  • Ryan

    Many people have already adjusted the way they hold their phones to accommodate having a giant screen. Minimal bezel will be the same…we’ll adjust to it.

    Of course, there’s always people who resist the trend (and for good reason!). There’s always a phone out there that caters to their wants.

  • Keith

    Well I would be okay with a little bezel and then smaller top and bottom bezel as well, I will end up putting a case on my phone anyways so an edge to edge screen would be wasted.

  • scoter man1

    I don’t really care since putting a case on any phone makes it have some kind of obstructed edge. It just shouldn’t be like the Nexus 7 or iPhone bezelishous crap.

  • steveb944

    As long as they implement it like the OPO there’s no issue to going bezel-less, raised glass. I have a bumper on it and a tempered glass protector on top.

    Who the hell holds their phone like those images? You can’t even use it that way. I have it rest on my pinky, 3 fingers on back, and the thumb actually using the device.

    I had issues with my Nexus 4 or 5 in which I wouldn’t be able to touch the edges due to the case covering up the bezel completely. Raised glass is the solution for case users.

  • Juan Sebastian Camargo Visbal

    I have an LG G2 and i hold it just fine, and it has one of the more minimal bezels available (almost like the first image). I guess if you are going to carry your phone like that, you might as well have a 3 inch screen on the inside instead of 5 or more.

  • dhinged

    As I’m learning with my Moto X in a protective case, minimal bezels are a terrible idea. It’s almost impossible to move shortcuts and widgets around home screens, or swipe things in from the side (like the lockscreen widgets). Even typing, I sometimes miss the furthest keys because my finger gets hindered by the case’s sides. Without the case sides, the phone will slip out. I would much prefer a smaller screen with more bezel just for grip and touch response alone.

    • Trent

      I had this problem with my old Thunderbolt, which wasn’t known for its razor thin bezels, but it’s more of a case design issue than a bezel issue.

  • monkey god

    Yes, i do want a minimal bezel screen, but there’s no real practical use other than making the phone smaller for its screen size. The two major downsides are that it can pick up your palm touching the screen and there is a greater chance of the LCD panel being damaged if the phone falls and lands on its sides..

  • floorman63

    A case simply gives you a place to hold the phone, therefore an almost bezelest phone is perfect!

  • patapongirl

    For all who said there’s no place to hold the phone, c’mon..

  • BleedingPurist

    This is truly one of those things that until you actually use it, you won’t realize it’s a bad idea. The use of a case was mentioned as a solution for a place to hold it. Really? Where is the case edge going to go? This also touches on the physical button debate. I roll my eyes every time I see this group worked into a frenzy voting in favor of no home button. Having an easily reached button to quickly turn on my screen has been one of the things I actually was happy to have back once I went on to Samsung. I hated having to constantly reach around to hit the power button, particularly if I’m driving and it’s in the cradle.

  • ari_free

    Engineers don’t choose to have bezel. It’s like saying you prefer to have a thick phone with a small screen. It may in fact be more comfortable but you won’t get any industrial design awards for having it (unless you’re Apple)

  • dontpanicbobby

    The HTC One (M8) although it has a rather large bottom bezel is practically bezel-less on the sides. The raised glass concept is used on this device and frankly it feels like your running a razor blade over the side of your hand when your holding it sometimes. I would never by a bezel-less phone.

    • manu4216

      Are you kidding? The smooth side bezzle is gentle to touch (I have a nexus 4 and a Moto X). Don’t worry, you can’t cut yourself in the screen. Anyway, it’s the top and botom bezzle that we’re talking here, 2 cm of no use IMO.

  • Del373

    I think they should take the bezelless idea and run with it on wearables. Ah la a bezelless smart watch. Then you don’t have to worry about holding it because it’s strapped to your wrist.

  • legalkill

    Even on my Galaxy s3 my palm would touch the screen in one handed use, when reaching my thumb over, and interrupt what I was actually trying to do. I have not noticed it so much with the G3, maybe because it fills my hand more and I can’t reach as far. That would be the only concern in real world use that I see. Aesthetically, the no/minimum bezels and wrap around screen mockups look sleek and futuristic.

    • manu4216

      your phone is too big for a single handed usage. try getting a smaller one mate

  • Jason Yuen

    If you’re having trouble with accidental touches, someone famous once said:

    “You’re holding it wrong”