Why iPhone 14 is finally getting 5-year-old Android tech in 2022

Here we are in mid-February, 2022. For a while now we’ve had Samsung’s latest and greatest Galaxy S22 series in hand, and as the hype is slowly starting to settle, we can also look forward to the other smartphone goliath and its next big annual release – Apple, and the iPhone 14 series.

Expected much later in the year, most likely around mid-September, the iPhone 14 might just be another incremental upgrade over what we got last year, just like last year’s iPhones were an incremental upgrade over the 2020 models. After all, if it ain’t broke…

However, there’s a rumor that although the overall body design of the iPhone 14 will remain largely the same, its notch might go the way of the dodo. Finally, 5 years after Apple first introduced the whole notch idea to the masses with the iPhone X, it’s allegedly going to be replaced… with a hole-punch?

Real quick – what’s a notch and what’s a hole-punch?

Surely most of you are well aware of what those are, since our audience largely consists of well-informed tech enthusiasts, but for the few of you who could use an explainer, here it is…

What’s a notch? Well, basically it’s that black bar at the top of the iPhone’s display that cuts into it. Why is it there? It contains the phone’s front camera and its Face ID sensor array, which, as the name suggests, detects its user’s face to unlock the phone. In addition, the iPhone notch contains an earpiece and even a microphone. There’s a lot of technology crammed in there!

What’s a hole-punch (or punch hole) camera? A picture’s worth a thousand words. Look at the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra photo above – it clearly doesn’t have a notch at the top of its display, instead using a circular hole-punch that contains a single selfie camera. Since it’s just the one camera and no additional sensors in there, there’s no need for a notch, or a bigger and wider hole-punch. Many modern Android flagships use a similar hole-punch display design to fit a single front camera. From all the big brands, only Apple has never done this (yet?).

And once upon a time, before notches and hole-punch cameras, we had bezels. Remember those? Anyway, we’re well past that, although the occasional flagship might still have those in order to, say, pack huge front-facing speakers in them, like the Asus ROG Phone 5 does.

Now that we’re all caught up – back to the topic at hand… Why does it take so long for Apple to replace the notch with something Android phones have had since at least 2017?

The notch is a significantly recognizable iPhone design element, so Apple isn’t in a hurry to replace it

First and foremost, the rumors that the iPhone 14 (perhaps only the Pro models) will replace the notch with a pill-shaped hole-puch are still just that – unconfirmed rumors. However, they do come from various sources that we consider reputable, such as the reliable analyst Ross Young.

So, assuming the rumors are true – why did Apple seemingly take way longer than it needed to finally replace the notch in 2022? Well, the first significant reason is a simple one – the iPhone notch has been one of its most recognizable design elements for many years now, nearly as recognizable as the Apple logo on the back of the phone itself.

Whatever minor irritant the notch may or may not be for some iPhone users, until now Apple clearly didn’t consider it a big enough deal to replace it, losing such an iconic, recognizable design element in the process.

In fact, Apple is so fond of the notch concept to this day, that its newest MacBook Pro laptops even came with notches for their cameras.

In the quest for thinner bezels around its laptop and iPhone displays, Apple surely could’ve gone with the hole-punch design a long time ago, but perhaps the company considers it less appealing, or more importantly – less recognizable as an Apple thing, like a notch is.

And sometimes the marketing angle trumps all else – even if Apple’s rivals made fun of the notch (only for some to also adopt it later (hi, Samsung)), for the trillion-dollar Cupertino company this is just free advertising.

Indeed, the word “notch” and how a notch looks have become largely associated with Apple products, specifically iPhones, and that’s a plenty good reason to stick with it for longer.

Apple might be more focused on behind-the-scenes AR research and development, the iPhone is fine as it is in the meantime

Why are iPhones so similar year over year? Particularly – why is that notch still around, again? As we said, Apple was likely never in a hurry to replace it at all, because the iPhone is arguably pretty much perfect as it is right now, in terms of design. Apple has reached its vision for what a smartphone should be like.

Nobody seems to have any major complaints about the iPhone’s build quality either – it’s premium, those flat edges are beautiful, and aside from the notch – nothing about the iPhone seems to be in “dire” need of updating right now.

So in the meantime, Apple could actually be focusing its efforts on its next big thing – the Apple AR glasses. AR stands for “Augmented Reality”, and that technology might change our entire way of being, our way of using the internet, fairly soon. We’ve already talked about AR in-depth, so if you’re interested in learning more, check out:

As exciting as AR is, our discussions about it from years prior usually ended with the same statement – “the technology isn’t ready yet”. But there’s a reasonably good chance that 2022 is the year Apple finally officially unveils those AR glasses it has secretly been working on for the last 4-5 years.How do we know it has? Mostly thanks to the many Apple patents that mention such a device, released over the years, plus based on what Apple’s CEO has shared in the past, which we’ll take a look at in a minute. It’s no plain unconfirmed rumors – Apple has been, and likely still is working hard on AR projects.

With that in mind, let’s get back to why the iPhone has been staying largely the same for, surprise, surprise – the last 4-5 years? Because there’s a good chance Apple has focused its best engineers and overall efforts into AR research and development – the future.

Now, that’s just a theory, but a plausible one nonetheless, and backing it up even further – as mentioned, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook himself has shared his excitement for AR many, many times over the years. And there’s little room for interpretation in his words:

Apple fitting its Face ID tech inside a hole-punch would actually be a great achievement

Now that we covered Apple’s potential reasons for waiting until now to replace the iPhone’s notch with a different design element, we can take a moment to appreciate that this was never going to be an easy task from a technical standpoint.As we mentioned, cramming a single camera into a single hole-punch on a phone’s display can easily be considered old technology by now – which isn’t a bad thing – it means it’s easy and likely cheaper to do than it was 5 years ago.

However, as we also covered, Apple’s notch contains many sensors, not just a single front camera, and cramming those into a traditional hole-punch isn’t possible, so the company has to “think different” when planning on how to do it.

By some accounts, what the iPhone 14 might be getting is a pill-shaped second hole-punch, in addition to a more traditional one for the front camera, as shown in the concept above. We can also reasonably assume that Apple will keep the earpiece in exactly the same spot as it is now, inside the top bezel of the phone.

In any case, time will show. But Apple has many reasons not to rush it, or even worry about removing the notch, even in 2022. But I’m sure by now many of us would prefer that it did.

What about you? Share with us how you feel about the iPhone notch, and whether you have any theories for why it’s still around.

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