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A notch too far? Back to the drawing board for Google

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Nothing has been quite as divisive as the emergence of the notch on flagship smartphones. In one camp, there are those who reject the notch without exception. On the other side, there is a growing number of tech-heads who greet the notch with ambivalence. The issue of the notch is about to become center stage once again and, this time, it is going to be hard to ignore. The notch on the Pixel 3 XL, if the leaked images are to be believed, is just too big. And I can prove it.

Android 9 Pie users can dip into the developer options and switch the display to simulate a cutout. Playing around with these options allows Pixel 2 XL owners (or those with any other smartphone running Pie) to get a better idea of what life with a notch is like.

developer options notch
Switch the display to simulate a cutout in developer options. / © AndroidPIT

Recent leaks suggest that this notch design is indeed real.

pixel3xl unboxing leak
The notch on the Pixel 3 is too big.  © Android Police

Enlargements of this image show that the notch forces the notification bar upwards, and this has concrete disadvantages. One argument in favor of the notch is that it provides more display space. This is true, to some extent, because the notification area is actually moved to an otherwise unused part of the screen.

However, once the notch becomes too large, it begins to waste space. I activated the giant notch on my Pixel 2 XL for one day, just to see if I would notice a Pixel-3-XL-style notch in daily use. The result: It stands out, and that’s disturbing. Thanks to the notch, so much space is created that is simply unused. A huge empty area floats above web pages. At least one line is cut off from my chat window. The list goes on and on.

google pixel 2 big notch
With the notch activated: Too much unused space remains at the top. Note: The simulated notch is not visible in screenshots. / © Screenshots: AndroidPIT

These screenshots illustrate my problem. The large notch takes up a lot of display space. The difference between this and the normal-sized notification bar is clear.

Yes, the Pixel 2 XL will appear as though it has a 6.7-inch display, which will compensate for the loss of space. But this is a sham, nobody can really use the size of the display because a clearly visible part at the top remains virtually empty. An area of 6 or 6.2-inches is usable. In that case, is it not better to be honest and simply provide borders, as with the Pixel 2 XL?

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Design images of the Pixel 2 XL. / © Google LLC

Some people will argue that such leaks are deliberately released to alleviate the hysterics about certain topics at launch. ‘So, here’s the notch’. Everyone has time to get used to the notch and, by the time of the October reveal, we should all be over it. Who knows if this is true or not. But my day spent with the simulated notch lead me to believe people won’t get over it. This is one notch too far.

How do you feel about the potential for a large notch on the Pixel 3 XL?


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