All Hail the Notch: The Best “Top-Notch” Smartphones You Can Buy Today

In case you’ve forgotten, not everyone was impressed when Apple unveiled in August 2017 that its future flagship smartphone, the iPhone X, will have a very prominent notch at the top of its almost-bezel-less screen.

Although some were convinced that the notch was necessary in order for the phone to be able to house its impressive array of camera and sensor hardware—with one reviewer from The Verge even maintaining that Apple is curating the notch as the defining feature of the new generation of iPhones—others were not as persuaded. One South China Morning Post  writer called the notch “an eyesore,” while Apple’s rival Samsung even took a jab at the design choice by making fun of it in a TV commercial it produced for its new Galaxy phone. Hardcore Apple fans at that time were divided, and quite predictably, Android fanboys also had a field day, taking the chance to make their disapproval of the iPhone X design known in all platforms known to humankind.

Needless to say, it was one of the most polarizing issues of the time—barring climate change, veganism, Donald Trump, and South China Sea vs. West Philippine Sea. Eventually, however, it became clear that the much-derided iPhone X notch has begun making its way to many an Android smartphone’s design aesthetics. One Redditor complained that the “abomination” is spreading in Androidland, while a writer from The Verge lamented that “bad iPhone notches are happening to good Android phones.”

At the same time, retrospective observers have also begun reflecting on the usefulness of the iPhone X notch, arguing that it wasn’t so bad after all. One writer from BGR even compared the user interface of the iPhone X screen to that of a newly released Android phone, which he described as suffering from “hideous asymmetry.” The difference, according to the author, convinced him that Apple made the right choice with the notch.

Given the apparent paradigm shift towards bezel-less smartphone design that has taken place in recent months, many people now appear to be ready to embrace the notch. And with the many phones emerging with this design feature, you may be wondering which one is the right one for you. This short guide summarizes some of the most popular options for Filipino consumers today.

iPhone X

The iPhone X wasn’t exactly the first smartphone to have a notch-type design. After all, the Essential Phone did have a circular camera that jutted out of its top bezel. However, it’s arguable that the iPhone X did popularize the notch, and the fact that this phone’s notch has an assembly of proprietary technologies up its sleeve is not so bad either. It’s where the iPhone X’s front-facing camera, infrared camera, flood illuminator, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, speaker, microphone, and dot projector are housed in. It’s the notch that makes Face ID possible, allowing the iPhone to make a detailed map of your face by analyzing more than 30,000 invisible dots. It’s also the front-facing camera and the sensors under the notch that allow users to create beautiful Portrait Mode selfies with sharp foregrounds, artfully blurred “bokeh” backgrounds, and studio lighting effects. (See:Poundit.com’s iPhone collection)

Oppo F7

Another phone with a “top-notch” design is the Oppo F7 smartphone, which is basically a mid-range phone that is designed for selfie addicts. Released as a successor to the Oppo F5, the Oppo F7 has a 6.23-inch screen, a 25MP front-facing camera, and a 16MP rear camera. Like the iPhone X, this phone also has front-facing camera that uses artificial intelligence to enhance images. The AI-assisted Beauty Mode promises to portray users “at their flawless best.” (See:Poundit.com’s Oppo smartphone collection)

Huawei P20 Pro

The Huawei P20 Pro smartphone is not exactly the most affordable of Android phones since it is being positioned by its manufacturer as a rival to both the iPhone X and the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus. That said, the Huawei P20 Pro is still cheaper than either of its rivals, and what it lacks in brand equity, it makes up for with its great battery life and its revolutionary Leica Triple Camera system. This rear camera system comprises a 40MP main RGB lens, a 20MP mono lens, and an 8MP telephoto lens. As for its 24MP front-facing camera, the Huawei P20 Pro also makes use of an AI-driven 3D facial modeling technology that adjusts to create the most flattering selfies. (See:Poundit.com’s Huawei smartphone collection)

Vivo V9

The Vivo V9 smartphone is another mid-range phone that sports the notch feature. Like the Oppo F7, one of its top selling propositions is its ability to take amazing selfies, and it does so with its 24MP front-facing camera that also capitalizes on AI to smooth out imperfections on the user’s selfie images. On its rear, the Vivo V9 boasts a 16MP primary camera and a 5MP secondary camera, which can also create portraits with bokeh effects. It can even be used to record 4K videos, which is a feature unavailable on the Oppo F7. (SeePoundit.com’s Vivo smartphone collection)

Asus ZenFone 5

Not to be confused with the Asus ZenFone 5 released in 2014, the 2018 Asus ZenFone 5 is a sleek new device that probably looks the most iPhone X-like among all the notch-wielding smartphones today. You’re going to love its 6.2-inch Full HD display, its beautiful glass back panel, and its powerful Snapdragon 845 chipset, which also powers other flagship Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S9. On its rear, it sports a 12MP Sony sensor with a large f/1.8 sensor, which you can expect to perform great in low-light conditions. On the front, its notch hides an 8MP f/2.0 front camera and sensors that work together to let you shoot in modes like Beautify, GIF Animation, and Selfie Panorama.

OnePlus 6

OnePlus phones have always punched above their weight, offering remarkable performance and flagship-quality features for such affordable price points. Its latest offering, the OnePlus 6, continues this tradition in style by swapping out the phone’s traditional aluminum chassis for glass back and front panels, as well as by updating its predecessor’s 6-inch display to a 6.28-inch OLED screen. Moreover, the OnePlus 6 is speedy and has a reliable battery life, a feature that will please power users. The front-facing 16MP camera system under its notch also ships with a beautification feature that can render your portrait images into watercolor masterpieces.

Like many revolutionary design changes that manufacturers have adopted in the past, the smartphone notch is definitely here to stay. And because somebody is yet to find an engineering solution to hide away the remarkable hardware that these notches contain, all we can do at the moment is to embrace the notch and enjoy it in all its awkward glory.