Bezel-less screens aren’t new, what’s different is how Samsung, Xiaomi et al are approaching them now

Bezel-less screens aren't new, what's different is how Samsung, Xiaomi et al are approaching them now

Samsung has been religiously trying to kill the bezel since 2014. Only earlier, it kind of restricted these antics to one series, the Galaxy Edge to be precise. With the Note 7, it tried to mainstream the concept only to be caught foot in mouth later. The Note 7, as they say, is history. But, Samsung hasn’t given up on the concept.

The Galaxy S8 and the S8 Plus are expected to cram in near bezel-less screens so much so that even though they are likely to be bigger than their predecessor phones, they will occupy a (much) smaller footprint in comparison.

The concept of a bezel-less screen isn’t new. OEMs have been down that road before. Japanese major Sharp has been building them for as long as one can remember. Sharp’s Aquos Crystal was nothing short of an engineering marvel of its time. Sadly, its borderless display was the one and only highlight of the Aquos Crystal. The phone was found lacking in almost all other departments.

In 2016, OEMs tried going that road once again, with a different approach, however. Companies like Xiaomi built bezel-less display toting phones — Mi Mix and Mi Note 2 — but did not compromise on specs.

Mi Mix: A concept phone that’s for real

Designed and jointly developed by renowned designer Philippe Starck, the Mi Mix boasts of a full ceramic body and a screen-to-body ratio of 91.3 per cent: an almost perfect edge-to-edge to be precise. The phone does not have a forehead, just the bottom. It is mostly flat like a pancake and the display — a 6.4-inch IPS LCD — is curved around the corners of the top.

Also Read: Mi Mix: How Xiaomi built the phone of the future

The phone essentially uses an ultrasonic proximity sensor through the display, through the glass, through the whole thing. It senses when you bring your phone to your ear just like an infrared proximity sensor.

Since the Mi Mix does not have a forehead, the selfie camera (5-megapixel) is tucked away at the bottom. When you’re taking a selfie, you look down or simply flip the phone around. The ultrasonic proximity sensor understands that you flipped the phone, and changes the orientation of the front camera accordingly.

It is pretty well-equipped too, the Mi Mix. It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor with up to 6GB of RAM and up to 256GB of internal memory. The phone is backed by a 4,400mAh battery and has a 16-megapixel rear camera.

Nubia Z11: New flagship killer in town

Nubia’s Z11 also makes a classic case for itself when it comes to killing the side-bezels. The Z11 comes with what Nubia calls an aRC 2.0 bezel-less display that allows the Z11 “to appear thinner and lighter due to significant reduction in thickness of the glass panel” according to the company. Essentially, the Z11 has 2.5D curved Corning Glass 3 on the front. On the inside, the company has — using some clever optics — managed to stretch the length of the main display area ever so slightly so it actually extends beyond the frontal curve. The whole thing — when lit up — gives the illusion that the display is gradually wrapping around the glass and is virtually edge-to-edge. Unlike the Mi Mix, the Z11 comes with an 81 per cent screen-to-body ratio.

Also Read: Nubia Z11 review: New flagship killer in town

The Z11 is being marketed as a no-bezel phone, and just so Nubia can emphasise more on this aspect, the phone comes with plenty of ‘edge’ based features. You can quickly select your desktop by holding the edge and swiping inward, you can switch between apps by swiping up or down from the edge, you can swipe repeatedly from the edges to kill background apps and swipe from both edges to adjust brightness.

It’s also mighty powerful, the Z11. The phone is powered by a 2.15GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor coupled with Adreno 530 GPU and whopping 6 gigs of RAM. You get 64GB of internal memory straight off the bat, and a hybrid expandable slot that supports microSD cards of up to 200GB. The phone supports 4G LTE (VoLTE-ready) and dualSIM via hybrid card slot.

If that wasn’t enough, the Z11’s 16-megapixel — Sony IMX298 — rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, triple image stabilisation (consisting of HIS (Hand-held Image Stabilisation), Optical Image Stabilisation and Electronic Image Stabilisation), and PDAF is capable of doing point-and-shoot very well, at least most of the time. Should you need more granular control, the Z11 is practically jam-packed with options.

Samsung and Oppo to follow suit

Samsung will be looking to turn the tide (in its favor) with the Galaxy S8 (and the Galaxy S8 Plus) at MWC 2017, where it will likely announce these phones for the first time. While the Galaxy S8 is said to be a 5.7-inch device, the Galaxy S8 Plus is said to be a 6-inch one. But, because these phones will reportedly come with almost no side bezels (and dual curves) they would be more compact in actuality. Also, the phones will reportedly be missing out on a Samsung-trademark home button on the front. The fingerprint scanner will reportedly be on the rear in these phones, just so the Galaxy S8 and the S8 Plus may have a borderless screen.

The Galaxy S8 Plus, in addition, will also reportedly carry a dual camera setup on the rear, like it is in the iPhone 7 Plus, although its functionality isn’t clear yet. The Galaxy S8 will likely be missing out on the dual camera setup to cut costs.

Because the Galaxy S8 (and the S8 Plus) will be high-end flagship phones, these would invariably come with top-tier spcecs. These phones are expected to cram a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor under the hood. There may also be a batch with an Exynos version of the same chipset, in line with the company’s recent trend.

Not just Samsung, even Oppo is working on a bezel-less display for its next flagship, the alleged Find 9. The phone – leaked in a couple of renders – seems to have a borderless design, on the lines of the Galaxy S8. Which means, the Find 9 is also expected to edge past the side bezels and have bare minimum top and bottom bezels. Which means, the Find 9 is also expected to have no physical home button on the front and instead opt for on-screen navigation buttons.

Rumour has it that the Oppo Find 9 will have two variants: one with Qualcomm Snapdragon 653 processor with 4GB RAM and 64GB of internal memory and another with a Snapdragon 835 CPU with 6GB RAM and 128GB of internal memory. The phone will also reportedly come with a built-in AI system called Find OS and is likely to launch sometime in the first half of 2017.

Also Read: Samsung Galaxy S8 rumours: Home button out, dual-camera in

 

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