back to article Nokia reinstates 'hide the Notch' a day after 'Google required' feature kill

Nokia has reinstated the ability to hide the display cutout – "The Notch" – after seemingly pulling it due to a request from Google, according to a company representative. Nokia 6.1 with Notch Click to enlarge HMD Global chief product officer Juho Sarvikas said on Twitter this morning that the blackout option would be " …

  1. Who Knows?

    Can't make sense of this.

    Not an Android user and don't have a "notched" iPhone so I'm struggling to understand this article. How can you hide what is a physical part of the phone (the notch)? Or is is just created in software on the display (which doesn't seem to be borne out by the pics), and in which case why would you do that?

    1. Displacement Activity

      Re: Can't make sense of this.

      And... umm... what is a 'notch' anyway?

    2. iron Silver badge

      Re: Can't make sense of this.

      If you set the screen to black on either side of the physical notch it is "hidden".

      It all looks bloody stupid to me and I'm sure somewhere at Apple HQ an engineer is laughing his ass off at an April Fools joke that went worldwide.

      1. onefang Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Can't make sense of this.

        "I'm sure somewhere at Apple HQ an engineer is laughing his ass off at an April Fools joke that went worldwide."

        Another notch on his belt? I'm notch-ure anything good will come of this.

        1. VeganVegan

          Re: Can't make sense of this.

          buenas noches, notches?

          1. Havin_it
            Joke

            Re: Can't make sense of this.

            Snotch to the muthafuckin' notch, snoogans.

    3. Who Knows?

      Re: Can't make sense of this.

      Answering my own question; found a video demonstrating this amazing ability. It basically entails adding black bars to either side of the notch. The future is here.

    4. EastFinchleyite

      Re: Can't make sense of this.

      Don't try. It doesn't really matter.

    5. LosD

      Re: And people trust goo ...

      It's simply making the area around the notch black and featureless and moving the notification bar down. ... And you'd want that if your prefer to have a proper full-width notification bar instead of a tiny bit extra screen.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Isn't adding black bars on either side of the notch

        exactly the same thing as not having a notch in the first place? i.e. what the notch haters wanted?

        In what way is it better to not have a notch, versus having a notch that you can disable and make the phone look exactly like it would if it didn't have the notch?

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Isn't adding black bars on either side of the notch

          Being able to hide the notch (which isn't so much about adding black bars to either side of it as it is about moving the status bar down it) would indeed resolve the real issue I have with the notch.

          The only remaining issue is an aesthetic one, but that's trivial.

          1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

            Re: Isn't adding black bars on either side of the notch

            The only remaining issue is an aesthetic one, but that's trivial.

            I just want parts of the phone I can hold/touch (with these clumsy fingers) *without* it activating something on the screen. Forget wrap-around screens, give me a 1/8" bezel around the edge. It isn't like I'm going to need those extra pixels for viewing email/webpages, since those are unviewable on anything smaller than a 7" tablet, and realistically need a 10" tablet. Make the phone actually USABLE for it's base functions, and stop listening to Jony Ive-wannabees.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Isn't adding black bars on either side of the notch

              "give me a 1/8" bezel around the edge" ..... "viewing email/webpages, since those are unviewable on anything smaller than a 7" tablet ".....

              The technical term for what you need is a case....... and glasses.

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: And people trust goo ...

        Pareto analysis: I get 80 % of the info I want from 20% of the possible notification icons, namely battery, time, and signal levels in the right, and SMS, WhatsApp and email on the left. Other notifications I'm not fussed about; indeed, I wouldn't want them to be given equal status to the above.

        I don't have a notch because Samsung sticks too many sensors up there, but I wouldn't be upset by a phone that did have a notch.

  2. Lennart Sorensen

    The notch is an indentation in the screen where the speaker (usually) is. So the screen is not actually a complete rectangle. Hiding the notch is done by not using the part of the screen next to the indentation so that you only use the part of the screen that is a complete rectangle.

    1. Alumoi

      And still pay a premium price for not being able to use the whole screen.

      People are just dumb.

      1. Spazturtle Silver badge

        I see no notch, only display ears.

        You realise the notch doesn't take any screen away? It adds more screen, it is extending the screen into where the bezel would be otherwise.

        1. onefang Silver badge

          Re: I see no notch, only display ears.

          The problem with that view is that Disney may sue Apple. Actually, that sounds like fun. I'll get the popcorn, you bring the drinks.

        2. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: I see no notch, only display ears.

          "You realise the notch doesn't take any screen away?"

          This statement doesn't address the problem with the notch. I don't think anyone is complaining that it's "taking screen away". The problem is that it gets in the way of an important UI element, the status bar. Being able to hide the notch is an essential option and stops the notch from being a straight-up showstopper.

          However, it strikes me as a troubling thing that it's necessary for the OS to work around a clear design flaw like this. It would be better to eliminate the flaw rather than have to implement a hack.

        3. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: I see no notch, only display ears.

          It adds more screen, it is extending the screen into where the bezel would be otherwise.

          But not in any useful sense, you only get a couple of corners. Hence the perception that it takes away from the screen.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I see no notch, only display ears.

            "Hence the perception that it takes away from the screen."

            Perception. That is a lot of the issue. By calling it a "notch" many people perceive it as something being taken away, not something added that may or may not be useful to you depending on how much stuff you want on your status bar. People don't like change either. The folks who have got use to having 10 items displayed on a full width status bar are dismayed to have to cut this down to 8.

            1. James Scholes

              Re: I see no notch, only display ears.

              16 items and it's the weekend. Fight me

        4. Tikimon Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: I see no notch, only display ears.

          It adds no USEFUL screen space, only little blind corners where you can lose your socks or car keys.

          What a "notch" really does is keep some idiot designer and a slew of marketers in business, claiming that they've come up with something breathtakingly new and awesome. Just like Ribbon UIs and their ilk, change for its own sake and breaking functionality as a side effect.

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        > And still pay a premium price for not being able to use the whole screen.

        There isn't a premium price - the notch is cut as part of the same process as the whole screen being cut out.

        You're not losing a slice of screen, you're actually gaining a couple of 'ears' of screen for the most important icons.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Economies of scale result because the manufacturer can produce one phone that appeals to those that want to make use of the extra screen space and those that would prefer not to. It also means that the user can change their mind, which is a feature worth paying for.

    2. WonkoTheSane

      Not just the speaker. Phones also hide the selfie cam there too.

    3. jmch Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Surely a much smarter and more effective solution is to re-engineer the status bar so it's split in two, one on each side of the notch, without any status information being hidden by the notch. That way in normal use, you can still get to use the slice of screen that would otherwise be taken by the status bar.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        "re-engineer the status bar so it's split in two, one on each side of the notch, without any status information being hidden by the notch."

        That wouldn't solve the essential problem that the notch makes the status bar too short to display all the status information, though.

      2. ilmari

        Um, clueless user of a notch less Xiaomi phone here, but

        Surely the OS knows not to put things in the not visible area taken up by speaker/sensor/camera ? Surely?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          What happens to the non-existing pixels?

          > Surely the OS knows not to put things in the not visible area taken up by speaker/sensor/camera ? Surely?

          I don't know why people downvote without bothering to give an explanation what it is they didn't like. The above is a perfectly sensible question.

          So how are non-rectangular viewports supported in Android?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What happens to the non-existing pixels?

            > So how are non-rectangular viewports supported in Android?

            Would like to know that too. I remember back when this was a technical site.

  3. karlkarl Bronze badge

    Black electrical tape will suffice for me

    ... but I never gave much of a sh*t about phones.

    1. Updraft102 Silver badge

      Re: Black electrical tape will suffice for me

      I've never had any interest in getting a smart phone (or a smart... anything, given that every single thing I see sold as "smart" seems really dumb to me), and I have to say that the design decisions they've been making with these phones doesn't make me think I may soon change my mind. Like Windows 10, they just keep getting worse and worse.

      Louis Rossman (the component level Macbook repair specialist who hates Apple and Apple products, and also has a Youtube channel) made a good point when he remarked that these phones are designed for product reviewers (who get new products sent to them all the time, so they never have to worry about long-term things), not actual users. If you design products for people who coo over every new shiny but who don't ever have to worry about things like "what if I need a battery replacement down the road" or anything like that, you're going to end up with different kinds of products than what most people would actually want if given a choice.

      I'd also want a smart phone that never spies on me and doesn't treat me like an infant and expect me to pay double for the privilege of being patronized, so I guess I'll have to continue not having one just as I have all along (and not once thought I was missing out on anything good).

    2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: Black electrical tape will suffice for me

      ... but I never gave much of a sh*t about phones.

      This is all about trying to make "smart"phones 'usable" for things they are sorely inadequate for.

      They want to impress me with smartphone design? Make it work in the dead-zone that is my street, improve battery life, stop making them so thin that corrugated cardboard seems heavy by comparison (and this will improve battery life too), stop stretching the screen out so far I can't actually hold the device, and very importantly; add the ability to synchronize data (contacts, memos, calendar) *LOCALLY* rather than having to rely on distant, insecure servers. The PalmOS sync protocol is still available to implement that last bit.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Black electrical tape will suffice for me

        > stop stretching the screen out so far I can't actually hold the device

        True that. There is design aesthetics and then there is functional design. Those two should complement, not fight each other.

        > add the ability to synchronize data (contacts, memos, calendar) *LOCALLY* rather than having to rely on distant, insecure servers

        Are you talking synchronisation or backups? For the former, Nextcloud has got you covered. You can run a Nextcloud box in your office / home / mountain cottage if you like.

        1. Anonymous Cow Herder

          Re: Black electrical tape will suffice for me

          "stop stretching the screen out so far I can't actually hold the device" - maybe somebody could develop a screen with side notches for your fingers.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Black electrical tape will suffice for me

      > ... but I never gave much of a sh*t about phones.

      Said Karl, commenting on an article about phones.

  4. James 51 Silver badge

    Screen coverage % of the front of the phone is why the notch was designed in. I could be useful for system notification battery level, unread text etc etc but it's an ugly design imposed for a stupid reason.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      It's this year 3D TV: a solution in search of problem. More fool HMD for not thinking more when they were sourcing panels.

  5. Kevin Johnston

    Notch?

    That's not a notch, it's a bloody great chunk bitten out of the display. A notch is...

    Definition of notch

    1 a : a V-shaped indentation

    b : a slit made to serve as a record

  6. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Joke

    It is all Apple's fault

    Hasn't anyone sued them for starting this stupidity???

    1. LochNessMonster

      Re: It is all Apple's fault

      A common but incorrect urban myth.

      The first smartphone with a display "notch" was the Essential Phone, announced in May 2017. That was four months prior to Apple revealing the iPhone X.

      It is all Andy Rubin's fault.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: It is all Apple's fault

        But if Apple hadn't adopted it, it would have died with the Essential, as it should have.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: It is all Apple's fault

          There were rumors about the iPhone X and its notch long before the Essential phone came out. Not saying they copied the Apple rumors of course, but the notion that Apple 'copied' the notch from them is ludicrous. As if Apple could design a whole new phone in the three months from when the Essential phone went on sale to when the iPhone X was announced.

          In fact, I saw something recently (maybe it was here at El Reg, but maybe not) where an exec at some company, might have been Huawei, lamented the fact that they'd come up with the notch two years earlier when they were pondering how to remove more of the bezel, but were afraid of doing something so radical.

          Its a pretty obvious idea if you want to maximize display area when you have some front facing elements that can't be display, knowing that you have status information that doesn't take the whole top row. You can't "steal" this idea any more than you steal the idea of a bigger phone, or steal the idea of having a 5G phone.

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: It is all Apple's fault

            "when they were pondering how to remove more of the bezel,"

            For the life of me, I still don't understand why phone makers think this is such a desirable thing to do.

            "knowing that you have status information that doesn't take the whole top row."

            The problem is that for many people (including myself), the status information does take up the full row. So this "knowledge" is, in fact, incorrect.

            1. Dave 126 Silver badge

              Re: It is all Apple's fault

              Actually it was LG with their V20 who first put notifications in line with the camera and ear piece, ( by means of a secondary display ) not Essential Phone.

          2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

            Re: It is all Apple's fault

            I'm just waiting for the interocitor phone...

          3. Wincerind

            Re: It is all Apple's fault

            You can't "steal" this idea any more than you steal the idea of rounding the corners of a rectangle

            FTFY

    2. YARR

      I thought the reason Android phones gained a notch was because Apple's screen supplier had too much unsold stock after the initially underperforming sales of the iPhone X.

      In practice, missing the central part of the status bar must be magnitudinally more inconvenient than having a few millimetres of sensors / cameras / speakers along the top of a phone.

      OTOH, could it be an industry scheme to trickle-down a retrograde 'feature' to mid-range phones, then re-introduce normal screens back to premium models, to hike up the long term price of a normal, usable phone?

      1. onefang Silver badge

        "OTOH, could it be an industry scheme to trickle-down a retrograde 'feature' to mid-range phones, then re-introduce normal screens back to premium models, to hike up the long term price of a normal, usable phone?"

        Then several years later they'll repeat the entire scam, only this time around they'll take the left corner out of the screen. Third time around, it'll be the right corner. Then notch at the bottom, etc. They can keep this going for some time.

      2. DougS Silver badge

        Android phones with a notch aren't using 'leftover' displays

        The displays Apple is using (at least up until now) are Samsung OLED, while AFAIK all of the Android phones with a notch are LCD. They'd all not only be OLED but be the exact same size, resolution, same notch dimensions etc. if they were using leftovers.

  7. Benchops

    Two comments. One sensible, one silly -- you choose.

    1) A simple fold-down extra bit if cardboard in the middle could easily hide the notch. Wouldn't help the display but would hide the notch. It could be build in to protective cases. YMMMV

    2) I think Sailfish is the occupational descendant of Meego, so Sony and Gemini PDA still carrying that torch...?

  8. John Robson Silver badge

    Ears...

    The ears are being hidden, not the notch.

    Just needs a two step status bar... Clock, network and battery notification in the ears - the actual status bar beneath that is then able to display more of whatever you want on it...

  9. Mage Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    Here's an idea!

    Have a simpler purely rectangular screen and make the case 3mm longer for a camera and speaker. The length isn't critical, only width. Also while you are at it make the phone and case thicker:

    1: More bend proof.

    2: Maybe twice battery capacity.

    The phones have been pointlessly thin for years, unless you have skin tight jeans with no stretch.

    Also a cover that would fold to back with cut out for speakers, status and rear camera so you don't almost double thickness with a case. The case can increase width & length by easily 6mm and thickness by 8mm.

    Current phones look nice in review photos (though all similar), but are an ergonomic failure in real life. A phone that needs a bumper / cover is a design failure.

    !!

    Apple is more about appearance and perception than usability today.

    Was Apple's idea of the notch simply to differentiate the appearance?

    Was removal of the 3.5mm ear/mic jack purely to sell expensive buds? It and the desire to remove the SIM holder are not about space or saving money! They need charged, they reduce quality as you STILL have a DAC and stereo amp (potentially a worse one due to smaller batter) and add the degradation and latency of a Bluetooh codec pair in phone and earbuds. Also means the FM tuner can't be used (it comes "free" in WiFi chips) as the earphone cable is the aerial. No, streaming doesn't replace radio, it's complementary to it.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Here's an idea!

      "Was removal of the 3.5mm ear/mic jack purely to sell expensive buds?"

      Pretty much, yes.

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: Here's an idea!

        ""Was removal of the 3.5mm ear/mic jack purely to sell expensive buds?""

        Some of the most expensive earphones have 3.5mm jacks.

        I am sure the reason was to sell earphones with tiny, short lived batteries and thus keep the replacement cycle going endlessly. When I read about BT earphones with batteries as easily replaceable as those on a hearing aid I will review that statement.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Here's an idea!

          I like my hearing aids - they work very well as BT headphones...

          I don't understand why you can't get something of the same design (RIC, open dome, behind the ear) which is a dedicated headset.

          Never come across anything so comfortable for long term use - and so good at giving me audio information.

          Now there is some leakage, but then most people's ear buds leak like crazy as well...

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Here's an idea!

      As I always say, if you want thicker phones with more battery life you already have them today. Buy a case for your phone that has a built in booster battery. Why should I have a thick heavy phone because of people who use their phones so heavily they can't get by for a day on a full charge? I often get two days out of my iPhone X - used to sometimes get three days out of my 6S plus. I have no use for a phone with more battery life. Not saying I want a thinner phone, but if it had a little less battery life I wouldn't have a problem with it.

      If there was sufficient demand for phones like this, you would see them in the market place. And there are a few - you're just choosing to ignore them because you want that form factor to be forced on everyone so you have lots of options.

  10. Not Enough Coffee

    And what if you rotate the thing to landscape? Does it take a bite out of the side?

  11. TonySpoons

    Hey Reg

    Android One is not the programme for low end phones, that's Android Go. The Nokia 6.1 is part of Android One, which in simple terms is series of phones that run unmodified Android in order to help with faster updates (among other things)

    1. Persona

      Re: Hey Reg

      "phones that run unmodified Android in order to help with faster updates "

      And for that reason I couldn't imagine buying any Android phone that wasn't branded as Android One.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There’s a notch

    In my crotch

    And I’m eating a scotch

    Egg

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ok, so now that we know what The Notch is ...

    With developer hat on, I say this is actually a good thing if it catches on, as it should boost work on and support for non-rectangular graphical user interface layouts.

    This is helpful in many instances, such as car dashboard displays, aircraft cockpits, and really all kinds of displays where the shape of the display should fit the object's functional design needs and not the other way around.

    At the moment what we have is mostly ad-hoc and/or hacky ways of dealing with non-rectangular layouts, which is not very efficient.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hopefully this fad will be gone within a year or two. Who actually wants a U-shaped screen?

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      .....Who actually wants a U-shaped screen?

      Do not give them ideas.

      (Because I'm a peasant, I would want a non-U shaped screen).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > Who actually wants a U-shaped screen?

      An aircraft, ATC, or navigation bridge simulator designer, for example. However, I do not quite understand how that ties in with an irregular shaped design?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > However, I do not quite understand how that ties in with an irregular shaped design?

        Unless this means like U-shaped in the vertical plane. In that case and as previously mentioned, that is what you already have on your car's dashboard. Just because it is made of discrete, possibly analogue instruments it is no less of a display than your laptop's screen. Making that a single digital display unit reduces costs and increases flexibility.

        Then again, maybe you're a fan of the Tesla 3's dashboard.

        1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

          I guess the people that find the notch so ugly also wear spectacles like Geordi la Forge's. Wouldn't do to have a notch on your face, right ?

  15. Richtea

    I like the notch

    Why wouldn't you want the maximum display area?

    On a OnePlus 6 if you really object to notch aesthetics, in settings turn the notch area black, and you won't comprehend what is notch and what is black background, but the status info remains. Everybody happy!

    Theory #1: Notch haters haven't tried a notch phone for more than 30s.

    Discuss.

  16. Havin_it
    Joke

    Top pic:

    Why are all the actors in that Android pic Canadian?

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