Nov 1st, 2018

Yesterday’s unveiling of the Lenovo Z5 Pro may have passed under your radar, but it signifies something quite important — the death of the smartphone display notch. While the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 and Honor Magic 2 both feature a similar slider design which allows the front-facing camera and sensors to be hidden below the display, the Z5 Pro is the first sub-$300 smartphone to do so.

When the iPhone X made its debut, Android fanboys were among the first to criticize Apple for the massive notch which dominated the top of the display. While the size of the notch was justified due to the number of sensors that it housed, it definitely wasn’t pretty and the extra screen real estate offered by the space on both sides of the notch was negligible.

But to the dismay of many, most Android smartphone manufacturers jumped head first into the notch arena, delivering dozens of mid-range and flagship smartphone with notches at the top of their displays. Shockingly, the smartphone with the most offensive notch is actually Google’s own Pixel 3 XL which features an obnoxiously tall notch for no apparent reason. With the exception of the OnePlus 6T, I’m sure we can all agree that notches don’t look good. But they do have one redeeming quality — offering a high screen-to-body ratio, fitting a larger display into a device with a smaller footprint.

Fortunately, smartphone manufacturers appear to have come to their senses. A few months back, the Oppo Find X and Vivo NEX introduced mechanical pop-up front-facing cameras to get rid of the notch, but the new slider designs from Lenovo, Xiaomi and Honor are a lot more practical and cheaper to build.

The Lenovo Z5 Pro is equipped with a Snapdragon 710 SoC, 4 or 6GB of RAM, 64 or 128GB of storage, a notchless 6.39-inch display with a resolution of 2,340 x 1,080 and a 95.06 percent screen-to-body ratio. The sliding display hides the earpiece, proximity sensor, and dual-sensor 16MP+8MP infrared front-facing camera setup and you also get a 16MP+24MP dual-sensor camera on the back of the phone. Lenovo also crammed in a 3,350mAh battery and included an in-display fingerprint sensor. Not bad for 1,998 yuan or roughly $288.

There’s no guarantee that all manufacturers will stop copying Apple and ditch the notch. But now that we have five smartphone manufacturers looking at alternative ways to deliver full-screen displays, the notch will hopefully go down as a short-lived fad that we can hopefully erase from our consciousness.

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