Designers have been targeting the bezel on phones for several years now, with an eye toward reducing those edges to non-existence. It’s all come to a head in 2017, which some are calling the year of the bezel-less phone. Whether you call them bezel-free, bezel-less, edge-to-edge, or infinity phones, these are the best of the best that came out of 2017.
Let’s get to it. Here are our 2017 top bezel-free phones:
Apple iPhone 7 & 7 Plus
With a 65.6% screen-to-body ratio, the Apple iPhone 7 sits at the bottom of the heap in our bezel-less roundup. Nevertheless, it’s still a beautiful phone. Apple apparently hasn’t figured out what to do with the physical home button and the front-facing camera so, although the 7 counts as bezel-less, it’s got ways to go since those features are still taking up space on the front of the phone.
We’ll be watching what happens in the next iteration… it’s hard to imagine Apple designers accepting defeat in this department. Steve Jobs would turn in his grave!
Lenovo Moto G5 Plus
Along with the pricier models, we thought we’d reserve a slot in our roundup for a modestly-priced model from Lenovo. With a 12 mp camera that has a f/1.7 aperture, the camera is a leading highlight of this phone. The Moto G5 Plus features a metallic body with chrome accents, unlike its plastic predecessors, so it already feels like an upgrade.
But they’ve kept the fingerprint sensor and the camera on the front, which helps explain the lower screen-to-body ratio of 67.1%.
Google Pixel & Pixel XL
Unlike the Lenovo model, Google’s Pixel phones have fingerprint sensors on the back of the phone. However, the bottom bezel is still huge. So are the side bezels. That results in a dismal 69% and 71.2% screen-to-body ratio (Pixel and Pixel XL), near the bottom of the heap in this roundup.
Strangely, Google chose to leave it at that: a huge yet empty bottom bezel and ungainly large side bezels to go with it.
With a 78.6% ratio, the G6 isn’t the most bezel-free of phones on the market, but it’s certainly the most beautiful phone LG offers at the moment.
LG takes a different route to bezel reduction: tinkering with the aspect ratio. At 18:9 (most phones are 16:9), the G6 is unusual yet beautiful… and it works, especially for anything that’s viewed in widescreen format (much content is, these days).
The corners are pleasingly rounded, although not for everyone. The cameras are made by Sony, they’re 13 megapixels, and one of them has a super-wide angle lens. This will be a deciding factor for some of the more photo-minded consumers.
Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus
With its virtual home button and an edge-to-edge display, the Samsung Galaxy S8 has helped put doubts about the Galaxy to rest after last year’s exploding Galaxy 7 battery debacle. The S8 provides a stunningly sharp display that’s so bezel-free it actually wraps around the phone on two sides. The S8 Plus has an even bigger screen (6.2 inches), making for an even more stunning, edge-to-edge display.
That display, thanks to a 2,960 by 1,440-pixel resolution, combined with the tall, narrow sleek design that fits neatly in anyone’s palm, is part of what makes the S8 and the Plus the hottest phones in town right now. Yes, sometimes looks do matter.
But the battery life will impress, too, as will a feature that Galaxies are known for water resistance. Throw in wireless charging and a hot-rod fast experience and it’s a no-brainer why this is a favourite right now. For those who can afford it, it’s the equivalent of driving a BMW.
Xiaomi Mi Mix
At 6.4 inches, the screen size of the Mi Mix is even bigger than the S8 Plus. The screen-to-body ratio is the same as the Samsungs, 83.6%, but the larger screen means even more edge-to-edge viewing pleasure.
By locating the selfie camera in the bottom bezel, designers at Xiaomi managed to create a behemoth of a display with no top bezel. But at the same time, they may have sacrificed user experience (UX). Case in point: some find the relocation of the all-important selfie camera to be unnerving and awkward.
Before the Mi Mix rolled out, the manufacturer had claimed a 91.3% ratio but that didn’t pan out. Watch for the upcoming Mi Mix 2, which had been rumoured to push the limits with the industry’s first 93% but now looks like will be around 90%.
What happens when you toss together top engineers from Apple and Google, then let the creator of Android lead them all? You get Essential, the AI-infused smartphone that’s designed to work with other devices in the Internet of Things.
Oh, and you also get a bezel-free phone with an 84.9% screen-to-body ratio. Part of what makes that possible is their treatment of the home button. The Essential solution to eliminating the physical home button is not to eliminate it but work around it. The screen features a cutout dip that winds around the button, which many people may find distracting and inelegant.
Standout features include a USB Type C port, a rear fingerprint pad, and high-end construction materials (titanium and ceramic). There are several mods to entice consumers, such as a 360-degree camera and integration with Essential Home.
So far, what vexes designers of bezel-less phones the most—what to do with the physical home button, the fingerprint sensors, the speakers, and the selfie camera—have been well-handled by the major phone manufacturers. Each in their own way has brought creativity to the design and technology solutions required in order to make a bezel-free phone that’s a pleasure to use.