A Walk Down Memory Lane: Evolution of the iPhone Display Bezels and Notch

This week marks the fifth anniversary of Apple revealing the iPhone X, one of the biggest redesigns in the ‌iPhone‌'s history. Among other innovations, the ‌iPhone‌ X introduced the notch to the ‌iPhone‌ with Face ID and a design language that has persisted through the last several years.

iPhone X 2022 Upload
In memory of the notch turning five years old this week, we thought we'd look back at the history of the ‌iPhone‌'s display bezels and how they have evolved into the pill-shaped cutout it is becoming today.

The Thick Bezel Era

iPhone 6s Front
For the first decade following the ‌iPhone‌'s 2007 debut, all iPhones featured relatively thick bezels at the top, bottom, and sides of the display. The bezels were either black or white, depending on the color of your device. The bezels were particularly thick at the top and bottom, given the need to house the front-facing camera, earpiece, and the Home Button, which gained Touch ID in 2013.

Throughout those initial years, Apple hardly touched the bezel design around the ‌iPhone‌'s display, keeping the thick "forehead and chin" bezels as displays gradually grew from 3.5 inches in the first few generations to as large as 5.5 inches with the "Plus" variants of the ‌iPhone‌ 6, 6s, and 7. It wasn't until 2017 that things started to radically change.

Say Hello to the Notch

iphone x notch
When Tim Cook announced the ‌iPhone‌ X at the Steve Jobs Theater in 2017, he used Apple's iconic "One more thing" phrase to mark the unveiling of the most significant redesign in the ‌iPhone‌'s history. The ‌iPhone‌ X introduced several new features to the ‌iPhone‌, with the most notable being ‌Face ID‌ housed in a new notch that protruded into the top edge of the display.

With that significant change to the ‌iPhone‌'s display, Apple had to rethink how iOS handled content. The new design also meant that third-party apps needed to be updated to support the notch and be sized correctly for the new display. The notch remained a key design element of the ‌iPhone‌ for four years until it was ever touched again.

The Notch Gets Smaller

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 notch comparsion zooomed
With the notch remaining essentially unchanged through the ‌iPhone‌ X, ‌iPhone‌ XS/XR, ‌iPhone‌ 11, and ‌iPhone‌ 12 generations, Apple finally managed to reduce its width with the iPhone 13. The notch on the ‌iPhone 13‌ was made smaller in width but slightly taller. The change was a subtle one, but it emphasized Apple's efforts toward minimizing and ideally removing the notch, which would see another significant step a year later.

Welcome to Dynamic Island

flighty iphone 14 digital island
Five years after the notch's debut, Apple is finally moving on, upgrading the notch on the latest iPhone 14 Pro and ‌iPhone 14‌ Pro Max to a pill-shaped cutout separated from the display bezel. While the cutout may look like one large pill-shaped display intrusion, it is actually two separate cutouts digitally merged and hidden within the iOS user interface through a feature Apple calls Dynamic Island.

‌Dynamic Island‌ is an entirely new way to interact with the ‌iPhone‌ that integrates the pill-shaped cutout into the iOS experience by moving alerts, notifications, and other information to the top of the display and around the cutout, which digitally resizes to respond to what's being displayed. ‌Dynamic Island‌ has received praise since its unveiling last week, with some calling it the "best design work from Apple in years."

What's Next?

Beyond iPhone 13 Better Triad
With the shift to a pill-shape and hole-punch cutout on the ‌iPhone 14‌ Pro and ‌iPhone 14‌ Pro Max, the question becomes about what comes after the ‌Dynamic Island‌. While the end goal may be a fully unintrusive design with no notch or cutouts, that may be far out in the future until the technology to adequately hide the various cameras and sensors beneath the display exists.

Rumors currently suggest that Apple is planning to bring ‌Dynamic Island‌ to the standard iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus models next year as the feature trickles down from the highest-end models, so it seems likely that Apple's notch replacement is here to stay for at least a few more years. What would you like to see as the next major design change on the ‌iPhone‌? Let us know down in the comments.

Popular Stories

iPhone 16 Pro Sizes Feature

iPhone 16 Series Is Just Two Months Away: Everything We Know

Monday July 15, 2024 4:44 am PDT by
Apple typically releases its new iPhone series around mid-September, which means we are about two months out from the launch of the iPhone 16. Like the iPhone 15 series, this year's lineup is expected to stick with four models – iPhone 16, iPhone 16 Plus, iPhone 16 Pro, and iPhone 16 Pro Max – although there are plenty of design differences and new features to take into account. To bring ...
maxresdefault

Apple's AirPods Pro 2 vs. Samsung's Galaxy Buds3 Pro

Saturday July 13, 2024 8:00 am PDT by
Samsung this week introduced its latest earbuds, the Galaxy Buds3 Pro, which look quite a bit like Apple's AirPods Pro 2. Given the similarities, we thought we'd compare Samsung's new earbuds to the AirPods Pro. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design wise, you could potentially mistake Samsung's Galaxy Buds3 Pro for the AirPods Pro. The Buds3 Pro have the same...
Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID Single Camera Hole

10 Reasons to Wait for Next Year's iPhone 17

Monday July 8, 2024 5:00 am PDT by
Apple's iPhone development roadmap runs several years into the future and the company is continually working with suppliers on several successive iPhone models simultaneously, which is why we sometimes get rumored feature leaks so far ahead of launch. The iPhone 17 series is no different – already we have some idea of what to expect from Apple's 2025 smartphone lineup. If you plan to skip...
macbook pro january

Best Buy's Black Friday in July Sale Takes Up to $700 Off M3 MacBook Pro for Members

Monday July 15, 2024 11:05 am PDT by
Best Buy's "Black Friday in July" sale is in full swing today, and in addition to a few iPad Air discounts we shared earlier, there are also some steep markdowns on the M3 MacBook Pro. You will need a My Best Buy Plus or Total membership in order to get some of these deals. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Best Buy. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small...
Generic iOS 18 Feature Real Mock

Apple Seeds Revised Third Betas of iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 to Developers

Monday July 15, 2024 10:09 am PDT by
Apple today seeded updated third betas iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 to developers for testing purposes, with the software coming a week after Apple initially released the third betas. Registered developers are able to opt into the betas by opening up the Settings app, going to the Software Update section, tapping on the "Beta Updates" option, and toggling on the ‌iOS 18/iPadOS 18‌ Developer Beta ...
ipaos 18 image playground

Apple Releases First iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 Public Betas

Monday July 15, 2024 1:16 pm PDT by
Apple today provided the first betas of iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 to public beta testers, bringing the new software to the general public for the first time since the Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Apple has seeded three developer betas so far, and the first public beta includes the same content that's in the third developer beta. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. ...

Top Rated Comments

sniffies Avatar
24 months ago
My perfect iPhone:

Bezelless, notchless, Touch ID (with Face ID), USB-C, and yes, I would still like Dynamic Island.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
I7guy Avatar
24 months ago
The notch was a defining design element —love it or hate it. The iPhone has to have a recognizable feature so that people know it’s an iPhone. Not a generic slab of screen.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Shreducator Avatar
24 months ago
I think Apple is brilliant to turn a controversial design element into a feature. However it looks awful when viewing video. Also I think people will call it the pill and not dynamic island. It blows my mind that this is the feature people care so much about.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
city_17 Avatar
24 months ago

I think Apple is brilliant to turn a controversial design element into a feature. However it looks awful when viewing video. Also I think people will call it the pill and not dynamic island. It blows my mind that this is the feature people care so much about.
The fact that a minor feature hiding a 'negative' feature (the pill) is considered the biggest announcement of a new iPhone says enough about the lack of innovation.

Still don't think that's really Apple's fault, it's just the maturity of the market. Except for maybe foldables, phones have reached their final form for now.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheYayAreaLiving ?️ Avatar
24 months ago
In my opinion, the notch will always stay iconic forever.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LoveTo Avatar
24 months ago
Dynamic Island looks so cool that they can even choose to retain and enhance it after perfecting no-notch/cutouts in future.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)