The advent of smartphones with near bezel-less displays such as the LG G6 and Samsung Galaxy S8 got us at HWM thinking: is a near bezel-less display really that great?
The science behind a bezel-less phone’s appeal goes beyond simple novelty. According to Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye by Rudolf Arnheim, our visual judgement perceives an object by relating to its environment. Hence, a near bezel-less aesthetic would juxtapose the screen’s content, granting the viewer an impression of a larger display size while drawing them to what they are looking at.
For the longest time, a smartphone having a larger screen usually meant an increase in phone size. The magic of design manufacturing allows phone makers to break the mold. Take, for example, the LG G6 – the phone’s dimensions (148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9mm) contain its 5.7-inch screen, yet the similarly sized LG G5 (149.4 x 73.9 x 7.7 mm) packs a 5.3-inch display. This is good news for folks who like chasing after larger displays, but are hesitant about how large phones have become.
Increasing the display length on these phones would grant them uncommon aspect ratios, which doesn’t play nice with videos that conform to the more common 16:9 ratio. That said brands like Samsung have a workaround. Their 18.5:9 Galaxy S8 and S8+ come with the option to stretch, resize, or crop your streamed YouTube video to fit the entire display. While this isn’t a perfect solution, it can help circumvent the need for letterboxing.
There’s also a slow-growing catalog for 18:9 content out there. Movies like Jurassic Park (2015) and Netflix original series Stranger Things were shot in 2:1 aspect ratio, which 18:9 effectively is, so your uncommon display ratio won’t stay uncommon for long.
Such displays are also not without compromise. The reduction of a bezel takes away some structural integrity since the exposed glass is more vulnerable to accidents. Battery drain is already a problem for existing phone models, and having more real estate to render would shorten precious up time on your smaller devices. Whether near bezel-less smartphones are right way forward is something only time can tell.