In the recent times, we’ve seen several Chinese brands walk on the path set by Apple and adopting the display with a top notch to accommodate some of the sensors. We also saw the Vivo Apex that completely eliminated the need for the notch and squeezed the sensors within the device bezels and showed yet another advancement in technology. One of the recent announcements in the MWC conference that got a lot of attention was the Asus ZenFone 5Z that comes with some of the best specifications in the industry and the “Top notch” that’s proudly inspired by Apple and reduced in size to take up less of the device.
However, what really matters here is not just the size but the functionality being served by each of the notches. In this article, we will try to understand the components that constitute the notch and the reason for the difference in the sizes of the notch across the smartphones.
Starting with the ASUS ZenFone 5Z, the notch is pretty small compared to what we saw on the iPhone X. However, this is pertaining to the fact that it comes with much fewer sensors that need to be accommodated within the notch, the Asus ZenFone 5Z comes with most of the conventional sensors that we see on every other device. The array of sensors in the notch consist the Selfie Camera, an Ambient Light Sensor, a Proximity sensor, the earpiece and an LED notification light which doesn’t take up a lot of space. The company proudly boasts about fixing the notch that was previously seen on the iPhone X by reducing the size and making a few other software changes.
On the other hand, the iPhone X comes with all the sensor offered on the ZenFone 5Z notch along with a few additional sensors for the FaceID and the Animoji feature to work flawlessly. The sensor array on the iPhone X includes an Infrared Camera, a Flood Illuminator, a Proximity Sensor, an Ambient light sensor, the earpiece, a microphone, the Front camera and a dot projector. This list is considerably larger with three major additional components on the iPhone X. The above sensors are present on the iPhone X for a reason, the device comes with one of the most advanced Face Recognition technologies, the FaceID scans the face in 3D and works even in low light.
The Dot projector projects small minute dots on the Face the reflect off the face structure and are captured by the sensors in the notch, the Flood Illuminator in the notch is used to light up the Face in a very subtle manner to provide the same quality Face recognition even in the dark. The last additional component which is the Infrared Camera is used to capture all the additional data from the reflected dots to analyze the Face structure in 3D. This technology is so much better than the conventional face recognition as it analyses the face as a structure and not as an image, this prevents the device from getting fooled by an image and it works more reliably.
The same sensors allow for the proper functioning of the Animoji featured, the Animoji feature in the iPhone X can never be appreciated to the fullest till you see similar counterparts on the Samsung Galaxy S9 and the Asus ZenFone 5Z. While the ZenFone 5Z also comes with the ZeniMoji, it is nowhere close to the implementation of Animoji. The ZenFone 5Z only uses the front camera to capture the expressions and movements on the user’s face, on the other hand, the Animoji uses an array of sensors that scan the face in 3D to get the expressions and movements much more accurately compared to its knock-offs.
Another notable fact that Asus talked about in the launch event is the fact that the sides of the notch are used only to display information such as the indicators and notification dots, for rest of the content such as videos, the display would apply a black patch on the notch and end the video before the notch starts, this technology helps the user with a better experience without pixels getting lost in the notch region as we saw on the iPhone X. However, the implementation of the feature isn’t perfect, this application of the black patch in the notch region tends to create asymmetry, with the bottom part of the display ending in a curve while the top part ending abruptly in a squared manner. This is something that can easily be fixed with a software update and the implementation still lacks the details.
It can be applauded that Asus was successful in reducing the notch to a smaller size to get a better screen-to-body ratio, however, it should be kept in mind the other sensors that Apple was able to accommodate in the extra space.