In defense of the bezel

Let’s get one thing straight: I think the phone screen-as-device face looks as attractive as anyone else. But am I so married to the mantra of bezel-less handsets and tablets that I’d go screaming at every bezel I saw in an article, post, or tweet? Of course not, and you should’t either. The fact is that a very vocal contigent of “bezel-haters” has sprung up in the last few years, forcibly pushing manfacturers into sacrificing usability and structural soundness in pursuit of this seeming expressed consumer preference. The vitriol of some of these haters is ridiculous, attacking any device unfortunate enough to be low end and unable to afford the flagships’ million-dollar development budgets and manufacturing techniques.

When I first saw the upper screen corners of the LG G2, I couldn’t even believe it was a real product. It’s a great phone to be sure, but I still cringe at the thought of dropping it from any decent distance off-the-ground and having it land smack on that little sliver of plastic. I once had the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 — built by HTC (codename Venus) — and that thing was a little tank. Dropped it many times on any number of surfaces from a few heart-stopping heights, and it sits in my drawer today almost like new, recessed screen out-of-vogue but completely crack-free and ready to shine. Phones today, with their tiny bezels, are churning through warranty claims so fast that the deductibles have inflated to nearly the same as the price of a brand new handset.

The other issue that plagues small-bezeled devices is a preponderance of unintentional screen taps. To use the G2 as an example again — sorry LG! — I can’t tell you how many times I accidently tap the screen while my finger is hovering around the border contemplating a selection. Usually the tap is completely benign and only the slightest bit annoying, but sometimes it results in the device performing a more serious miscue, and it make me wonder how the aging Generations X, Y, and beyond are ever going to sucessfully avoid accidents with what will surely be wraparound, completely bezel-less displays. I’ve not even touched on the entirely separate issue of palms on tablets, and how the so-called rejection technology is far from universally perfected across the wide breadth of OEMs. Nor did I mention the superior viewing experience offered by a screen with a distinct black border around it — a bezel.

I honestly think that the bezel-haters are actually just a vocal minority, and that the vast majority of people are reasonalbe enough to see all these yet-to-be-addressed issues with the unwavering march towards no bezels, anywhere, for anything. Maybe I’m wrong and just getting old, in which case I can only hope for the rapid ascension of alternative display technologies, the voice-controlled Google Glasses and motion-responsive Oculus Rifts of the future.

  • Wojtek Czaderna

    But unfortunately something that is better is gone away because it just doesnt look good as moste people want to be…
    Anyway I understand your opinion

  • Joe

    Yea, you’re getting old.

    • @evleaks

      Still, I’ll take the wisdom that comes with age over the idiocy of youth. My own surely included.

      • http://www.animenews.biz Humberto Saabedra

        Completely agree with you on the X1 and its tank-like endurance. I wish T-Mobile and Sony would revive the X1/X2 series under the Sidekick brand. As for the idea of smartphones without bezels, I’m actually against them because of the need for a proper dead zone. Without them, touch targets and aspect ratios get completely skewed and could result in a lot of frustration for developers and users

  • zerocool

    Fail of an article. evleaks thinks they are better than everyone else it seems.

    • @evleaks

      So do you, but you are frequently wrong. For example, you said that “How can you believe this?! It’s just previously leaked rendered images (which I hate atm) with added carrier logos!”

      That’s 100% false. How could you possibly know anything about the provenance of these or any other images I post?

      • zerocool

        aahgagagag

        • @evleaks

          I guess I should let even the brain-dead give me page views, so I’ll keep at this as long as you will, good sir.

          • icomefromb

            Okay, I was with you until the good sir thing. Speak like an adult and not a knight of camelot.

          • @evleaks

            As an adult, you should know I was using that term facetiously, to someone whom I actually thought was a piece of dog shit. Make it better for you?

          • Evan Blass

            LOL! Of all people to say “as an adult”!!! Funny.

  • Sebastian Atwater

    I completely agree. I think phones have gotten so good that nerds just need something to complain about and the bezels are an easy target.

  • Winston Purnomo

    Completely agree with this – I personally dislike bezel-less thingies because I always touch the screen when I’m trying to hold it, no matter vertically or horizontally.

  • http://www.kopenimac.nl/ z0mer

    Yeah let’s make the bezel bigger, so that it doesn’t damage when it’s get dropped. I have never dropped a phone in my life and all my phones look like they have never been used, while I don’t use any ugly cases that completely ruin the design of a device. The so-called rejection technology works pretty good on the iPad Mini, although there is of course still room for improvement. I’m being tired of all those technology journalists that are complaining about new tech, like 2k/4k etc. It’s exactly what technology makes great to watch.

    • @evleaks

      So all devices should be designed based on your perfect coordination? You’re literally the only person I’ve known to have never dropped a phone even once, which suggests you haven’t had that many of them at all.

      • JD

        I’m just picking one of your comments at random here. It seems like you choose to articulate most of your responses defensively and then direct hostility towards just about every person. I like your twitter and hope your new site grows. However, it may be beneficial not to alienate your users. Especially since comments are designed to share opinions, especially on an article that is largely based on your own opinion. Good luck with the new site and I hope you use this criticism to both grow and benefit from it.

        • @evleaks

          I block at least one person a day from my Twitter, which has amounted to hundreds over the life of the feed. I have no tolerance for assholes, and there were only a handful of commenters here who chose to articulate their criticisms using mature, responsible discourse. The rest chose to engage the author (me) with hostility, and they got exactly what they were looking for.

          FWIW, my responses have been pretty highly rated, so apparently the silent majority isn’t all that repulsed by my style of interaction. I never start a fight.

          • http://brainchamber.com/ Michael Hannigan

            They are called sycophants.

          • @evleaks

            Thanks for the PV!

  • Eric Blackman

    You just talked me into the LG. Thanks!

  • http://androidintvfilm.tumblr.com/ wade_county

    You probably used a G2 for like a few days, maybe a week? I actually own a G2. I’ve never had issues with unintentional screen taps. Minimizing bezels lets you have maximum screen real estate while having a smaller footprint. What’s wrong with that? Also, the grand majority of cell phone users put phones in cases so if they drop them their phones are safe. Give me something like the LG isai FL, that they moved everything from the top including the FFC towards the bottom to minimize the bezel. That’s an engineering masterpiece. Oh btw, I’m 33 and I’d welcome bezel-less phones.

    • @evleaks

      I’ve owned one since last November — about five months. The rest of your comment doesn’t even address any of my points, so that’s that.

      • Evan Blass

        This is not a valid reply. You are a fucking idiot.

  • iOSh8er

    My only reason for a small bezel is to have a one handed phone with a decent screen size. That is all. I want a moto x sized device with a larger screen. Having no bezel makes little sense. I still think HTC could have made a more ergonomic phone (m8) without the black bar below the screen. It is in my opinion too tall!

    • http://androidintvfilm.tumblr.com/ wade_county

      I owned a Moto X before my G2. The footprint and feel on that phone is perfect. Motorola has been reducing bezels since the Droid RAZR M. Kudos to Motorola and LG.

    • iOSh8er

      Let me respond to my own comment here….

      I own the g2. It is as large as I want to go. I have no accidental touch issues with it. If it weren’t for the battery life, a moto x would be my daily driver!

  • Sourav Gupta

    Hey, my first comment here , and I really don’t completely agree with you on this one, but I sure agree with one of your points here i.e “I can’t tell you how many times I accidently tap the screen while my finger is hovering around the border contemplating a selection.” That’s completely right. I have done this so many times mistakenly on my nexus 5 and my friend’s G2. And that sure is annoying as hell. One other thing with less bezel phones is that you can seek the song rewind 100%. Just open play music on Nexus 5 and try to rewind the song from 0:32 to 0:00. Max you will be able to do is 0:10 (with current track playing). Someone claims otherwise is lying. One more thing is that yes warranty claims are there but then again that’s user fault. That’s the technology user have to face. Let’s take an example of Nokia 1100 and HTC One M7 (It has huge bezel’s right?) , M7 will probably have 100x warranty claims compared to the 1100. So that’s technology. Low bezel’s do provide sexy feeling to the phone, we have to admit that and that pro of it’s is big enough for the OEM’s to make slightly less bezel phone. I’d say OEM’s should just try to make a phone completely bezel free , what that will help is, let’s say OnePlus phone comes with complete bezel-free. No bezel at all and then it will have the dimensions of Nexus 5 or even less which customers will prefer as it will fit great on a customer hands. @evleaks, what’s your take on my comment, I look forward on seeing a reply on my comment from you.

    • @evleaks

      Sure, I can see that. I’m not saying I don’t like the bezel-free look. What’s been annoying me are those people who feel the need to mock every device with borders greater than a hair thick. Every time I see “DAT BEZEL :o” it makes me cringe.

      • JasonC

        I agree. Most of today’s phones don’t have the thick bezels of yesteryear, aside from the really budget models, so I don’t know why people keep complaining about them.

        I have the Motorola Moto X, Droid Razr M, HTC One M8 (the M8 is new while the others were used) and I have no issues with the very thin side bezels of the M8 and the top bezels are somewhat necessary for the really good speakers. Can’t really negate physics on that one. The only time I had touch issues were on the Droid Razr M when gripping the phone for speakerphone or media use, the Moto X didn’t cause any problems.

        My old phones were the HTC Rezound, Motorola Droid Bionic, Samsung Droid Charge and HTC Thunderbolt. So I know how thick phones used to be. Those don’t even compare to my OG Droid.

  • John Liggett

    I agree with your opinion. I don’t think bezels are a horrible thing. Some of the best devices have them and they still look great – the HTC M8 being one of them.

    On another note, Evan please dm me on Twitter @johnliggett42.

    • @evleaks

      Ha, you don’t follow me. So you DM me.

      • John Liggett

        Can’t dm you :( lol

        • @evleaks

          Evleaks[at]evleaks.at…to DM me, you need to do it from the web.

        • @evleaks

          Email is in my Twitter bio. You can only DM me from the web, not a phone.

      • John Liggett

        Is there an email address I could use to message you?

  • CyberAngel

    Hmmm…how about a rubberized extremely thin bezel
    AND a “touchless” border acting as a bezel, but allowing a huge display!

  • murat dogusan

    bazels are necessary but that hp tablet you freaked about how good its bezels are is a piece of crap really. for a 10″ devices go ahead want the biggest bazels but dude no one will take bazels over mobility for small tablets or phones

  • Paul Almond

    Totally agree, I had wondered if I was in a minority on this issue.

  • Dimitar Gospodinov

    If OEMs advance more with flexible display this is no issue at all…

  • Sean Lumly

    Are there actual statistics to suggest that a thicker bezel makes a device more durable? This would be counter-intuitive to me in that most modern devices (with the exception of a few) seem to have glass that goes to the edges of the device regardless of the relative screen size.

    I would also guess that there are a lot of other factors that would contribute to how shatterproof a device would be, including perhaps the screen material, how well the chassis absorbs vibrations, etc.

    • @evleaks

      Glass is one thing. Display components are another. Recessed screens make a big difference too, which is why case manufacturers employ that feature on some models.

      • Sean Lumly

        Intersting.. With a bit of engineering, I think durability could be improved for small bezel devices with sharp corners. For example, they could implement something like the HTC One, or even have a small bumper that runs along the top and bottom of the device, or is specifically at the vulnerable corners.

      • icomefromb

        Right, but regardless, you are still making contact with glass itself. You talked about dropping it. Dropping it on it’s side is going to shatter it if it clips a corner where the glass is rounded or exposed. You are being nitpicky. A case solves this problem anyway. Hell, with the amount of experimenting I have done, I would say that even a screen protector is all you need to make your point irrelevant entirely.

    • http://brainchamber.com/ Michael Hannigan

      The statistics are about the same as the ones that show that evleaks steals images rendered by other people or companies. Slaps a carrier logo or something on it along with his own. He does it so fast, though. The original artists feels like they should give credit!

  • Chris P

    Finally, a voice of reason. Every single comment on that HP tablet leak was “OMG the bezel amirite” -_- Tablets need a nice border around the screen, makes them easier to hold.
    Similarly, whenever a Sony phone is mentioned, everyone’s all like “yeah but bezels”… Sure, the Z1 has a lot of gap between the frame and the display, especially when compared to the (conspicuously shatter-prone, as my friends have made apparent) Galaxy S4, but the Z2 improves upon that, but either way, IT’S NOT THAT BAD. I hardly notice the bezel, and I only use 5″ phones because the Z1 Compact wasn’t out when I got this. :P

  • realjjj

    As you said in a tweet ,”we use the screen not the bezel” and that’s exactly why we don’t need the bezel.
    I should also remind you that those devices are mobile and the screen defines their size, thinner bezels means better mobility.
    For accidental touches ,that’s a software problem no need to go looking for a hardware fix to it.
    Thin bezels are mostly not about design but about ergonomics both when in use or in a pocket/bag.
    With screens going bigger and bigger having thick bezels is a huge disadvantage and for tablets in portrait mode it can mean the difference between being able to cup it with one hand and not (in theory we should be able to do that with 10 inch 16:10 AR with no bezel)
    As for what history shows us, even TVs went to thinner and thinner bezels and there it is just a design statement.

  • whybbwhy

    This.

  • Joe J

    Like many lg g2 owners have said, I have no problems with hitting the screen on my near bezeless lg g2. The lg g3 has a cult like following that is very similar to when new iphone models were coming out. The reason alot of people have become bezel nazis is because phones have reached maximum screen size for ONE HANDED operation. The lg g2 is close to the limits while having a 5.2″ screen. Others like htc and sony have the same screen size in much larger phones. Two handed Phablet territory. So people want the largest screen for manageable one handed operation. So basically lg is putting in a 5.5″ screen in a body that is the same or smaller then 5.2″ phones. Even though .3″ inches doesn’t sound like much, It is especially for web browsing and media content.

  • Tom LIU

    I think it’s hard to determine a bezel size that suits everyone. Also bear in mind that people can use different cases which create all kinds of bezels. Personally I think the bezel on my nexus 5 is too small for me to hold it safely without touching the edges on the screen. I’d prefer some slightly larger bezels like HTC one. Another problem with thin bezels is that cases with higher and thicker edges on sides (good for protecting the screen when face down) can prevent slide in gestures to be registered properly.

  • http://brainchamber.com/ Michael Hannigan

    This entire editorial is idiotic. As nonsensical as evleaks leaks that are not really leaks.

  • Evan Blass

    Hey @evleaks. I just thought of a new nickname for you. It’s Evan “I take it in the ass” Blass. This seems random, but I was just sitting here blowing myself and it made me think of your mother’s pretty crimson lips on my member.

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