One of the main changes with the new iPhone 13 lineup is staring you straight in the eye when you look at the display of one of the four new models – a smaller notch. The unsightly home of Face ID technology, front camera and earpiece has finally shrunk for the first time since its introduction.
In addition to looking better, the smaller notch provides more screen space for the status bar and large screen content that should wrap around the notch. (Think photos and videos.) Apple says the notch on the iPhone 13 is now 20% smaller than previous phones dating to the iPhone X, and based on the images and renderings shown at from the product launch on Tuesday (September 14), the change is certainly noticeable.
Apple introduced the notch on the iPhone X, which was also the first phone with Face ID. This technology requires multiple sensors and the front camera has to be placed somewhere. So Apple, in its desire to create an all-screen experience, opted for a notch cutout for everything it needed instead of a thick bezel to house the camera and other sensors.
The notch was criticized immediately, and I remember finding it quite unattractive at the time. In the years since, and even after I upgraded to an iPhone 12 Pro as my daily driver, my opinion of the notch hasn’t changed. I find it ugly, and it takes a toll on an otherwise beautiful phone.
It looks like the iPhone 13 stays on Face ID entirely, which is good – as long as you’re not wearing a mask. Apple’s lack of mask-compatible authentication with the iPhone 13 is a whole different story, but you’re hardly out of luck unless you have an Apple Watch for the workaround introduced in iOS 14.5.
A smaller notch is a step in the right direction, especially since Apple is said to be working on sub-display Face ID technology and possibly a notch-less iPhone in the future. Considering the poor condition of the under-screen front cameras right now, I guess the notch is here to stay for a while. Still, I’ll take what I can get and commend the effort to reduce the notch.
To accommodate the iPhone 13’s reduced notch size, Apple moved the earpiece above the notch and moved the Face ID sensors closer together. A 20% reduction doesn’t seem like much, but be prepared for side-by-side (or two-sided) comparisons between the iPhone 13 and iPhone 12 to see how much has changed.
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