I’ve never been a big proponent of the iPhone’s notch that houses the selfie camera and Face ID sensors. It’s always been in the way for me, but after many rumors and speculation, Apple announced the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro that both feature a smaller notch, the first major improvement in this department since it debuted in 2017 with the iPhone X.
I’ve always understood why the notch has been there, but I’ve never liked it, even after three years of owning an iPhone X. I’ve put up with it because of how good Face ID is compared to Touch ID, mainly due to the ease of how the device scans your face to use the iPhone without lifting a finger.
However, as my iPhone X has been showing signs of wanting to move to the big iPhone graveyard in the sky, I’ve been waiting for the new iPhone 13 to be announced, which has finally happened. While Touch ID didn’t make a return as some had hoped, a smaller notch has instead arrived, which means I can be less distracted by it.
When Apple usually makes a reduction in size to a feature, such as phasing out 3D Touch in the iPhones, it usually means they’re already planning on getting rid of it in time, and I can’t wait.
- Apple has also announced the New iPad mini (2021)
- Here's everything you need to know about iOS 15
- Here's everything that's coming to iPadOS 15
A notch distraction
iPads with Face ID have never had a notch due to the bezel-heavy design (compared to iPhones), which has meant a notch has never been needed - the border can hide the true depth cameras that enable Face ID and selfies for Apple’s tablets.
The Face ID authentication system works with three cameras in the notch - all of these work together to make sure that it’s your face when scanning, so it can grant you access to the iPhone.
However, we were in a simpler time before this, with Touch ID merely requiring your finger or thumb to authenticate access, which is still the much easier method when using ApplePay.
However, with every major iPhone model that’s launched towards the end of the year since 2017, there’s been an ever present notch that has housed Face ID, getting in the way of my content.
Sprawled across the top of the display, every app in iOS has to adjust to it, with video apps such as YouTube giving you the option to zoom in, covering the display and giving no exception to the notch. While some proudly exclaim they don’t notice it after a period of time, I do. It’s a constant annoyance, and gets in the way of how good the iPhone X, and subsequent iPhones are.
But the iPhone 13 series now has a notch that’s 20% smaller horizontally, while the height is slightly longer, with apps not needing additional work to adjust to this smaller design.
I rejoiced. While I had been planning on an upgrade this year regardless, a smaller notch has sealed the deal even more, reducing this three year pain point of mine by 20%. But I’m still not completely satisfied.
- Here's all of the iPhone 13 deals that have been announced in the US so far
What could be next?
Apple is a company that thrives on the elegance of simplicity, reducing certain steps or peripherals so you can access features more quickly.
Getting rid of the headphone jack with the iPhone 7, doing away with the home button entirely with iPhone X and replacing Touch ID with Face ID are just some of the examples.
The smaller notch is another example of this, with more screen estate now available for the apps you use each day, no matter how minute the reduction is for the iPhone 13 series.
But in the other city of the smartphone world, plenty of Android devices have already moved on from a notch and even the smaller ‘hole-punch’ design which was the size of a single, circular camera lens.
The Samsung Z Fold 3 has a front camera under the display for instance, so the whole screen is now notchless.
While this feature still has a long way to go, it shows what could happen with a future iPhone if Face ID was to be behind the display, getting rid of the infamous notch entirely.
A smaller notch in the iPhone 13 series is a great start, but clearly Apple is beginning to work towards an iPhone that is all display, with nothing getting in the way of what’s being shown on the screen, similar to the iPads but in a 6.1 and 6.7-inch display.
The iPhone X had its use over the years, but with the iPhone 13 series finally having a smaller notch and a much-improved camera compared to the X, this is a sign to me that my next iPhone upgrade in the far future will hopefully include a display without a notch
I’m already looking forward to the day when this occurs, so we can finally train our muscle-memory to forget the small lip at the top of our iPhones.
- Apple has also announced the Apple Watch Series 7
Get daily insight, inspiration and deals in your inbox
Get the hottest deals available in your inbox plus news, reviews, opinion, analysis and more from the TechRadar team.
Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', alongside podcasting and usually found playing games old and new on his PC and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.