2023 Could Finally See the End of the iPhone’s Notch

Notchless Iphone 2020 Credit: Ben Geskin
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Even though the notch has become a normal fixture of recent iPhone models, it looks like Apple is still looking for ways to ultimately eliminate the gap at the top of the screen and deliver a true edge-to-edge experience.

When the iPhone X made its debut back in 2017, many found the big notch at the top of the screen to be an odd decision for Apple — a company that’s usually obsessively focused on aesthetic details. Apple made no apologies for it, however, and simply owned the design outright, boasting about the cool new TrueDepth camera system and Face ID technology that it powered.

It was apparent that the only way to include such a sophisticated front camera system was to make room for it back then. Somewhat amusingly, however, other smartphone makers began blatantly copying the design, even though they really didn’t need to, since their front camera systems weren’t nearly as sophisticated as the iPhone’s TrueDepth camera.

As much as Apple made no excuses for the notch, however, it’s fair to say that it’s mostly been a necessary evil — an unsightly aberration on what could otherwise be a gorgeous full-screen design. There’s little doubt that Apple has been eagerly waiting for screen technology to reach the point where it could finally do away with the notch, and it looks like it could be almost ready.

While we’ve been hearing rumours for years about Apple trying to slim down the notch, that’s never really happened — in fact, the notches on this year’s iPhone 12 lineup are slightly bigger overall — but it’s fair to say that Apple isn’t really wasting too much time worrying about shrinking the notch. After all, a smaller notch is still a notch. Apple’s focus is almost certainly on eliminating it entirely.

Some reports have suggested that Apple wants to get rid of the notch so badly that it’s willing to ditch Face ID in favour of in-display Touch ID. While there are reliable reports that the more advanced Touch ID is likely arriving this year, everybody pretty much agrees that it will supplement Face ID, not replace it.

Keeping Face ID Without the Notch

That doesn’t mean Apple is giving up on its efforts to eliminate the notch. Now the venerable Ming-Chi Kuo is following up on an earlier report on next year’s “iPhone 14” with the prediction that Apple will have fully licked the problem of notch-less Face ID by 2023 — in time for the “iPhone 15.”

While at least one smartphone maker has already introduced an under-display camera, it’s clear that the technology isn’t yet ready for prime time, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be someday.

Apple, of course, is a company that’s happy to bide its time, and according to Kuo, it’s already working on building an under-display camera system to power Face ID, which would naturally eliminate the need for a notch.

This lines up with other recent predictions Kuo has made for the 2023 iPhone, suggesting that at least one of the higher-end models would feature an under-display fingerprint scanner and a full-screen display with no notch at all. His latest investor note doesn’t provide any additional details on whether that’s still going to be exclusive to the “iPhone 15 Pro,” but since 2023 is still a way off, it’s likely too early to really be certain.

Kuo had previously reported that at least some of next year’s “iPhone 14” models would also eliminate the notch by going with a punch-hole camera design. However, that may only come to the higher-end Pro models. While it seems unusual for Apple to transition to a new screen design for only a single year, a full under-display TrueDepth camera is a much more ambitious undertaking, so there’s no guarantee that Apple could have it ready for 2023, in which case the punch hole design could be with us for a bit longer.

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