One of the big smartphone trends in 2017 is shrinking bezels. As it turns out, shaving bezel space off the sides of a device to expand the screen ends up making a lot of sense. The “phablet” fad that started in 2011 with the original Note “wasn’t a phase, Mom,” and now we’re left with demand for larger screens. However, while larger screens have gained popularity, there’s still one issue that needs to be addressed: people’s hands don’t magically get bigger, so by shrinking the bezels and increasing the screen size the end result is the best of both worlds.
We’ve seen it with the LG G6 and the Galaxy S8; other flagship releases like the HTC U 11 and the OnePlus 5 ended up keeping their bezels. Considering both HTC and OnePlus commented on why they didn’t go for bezel-less displays, it’s safe to assume that the consumer demand for bezel-less displays already exists on a grand scale.
What I want to know is: What does this mean for the Google Pixel?
Reception for the Pixel has been so-so. There's a bitter undertone regarding the Pixel by enthusiasts considering the Nexus line was sacrificed for it, but I think Google’s rigorous marketing for the Pixel boosted its image to the general consumer. The phone is pricey, but it has a great camera, vanilla Android, and Google’s branding. However, the market is more aggressively competitive than ever before with cheaper phones and an abundance of recognizable brands. Despite those hurdles, more people seem to know about the Pixel in the 8 months since its release than in the 5 years the Nexus line was in production.
I believe there are two things needed to make the next generation Pixel a big hit: the inclusion of a headphone jack (which was still included in last year’s model, but appears to be at risk to lose it this year) and a bezel-less display.
Personally, I don’t care much about bezels. I’ve been testing a lot of phones out lately that range from bezel-less to wide margins, and neither design particularly strikes me as being better than the other through everyday use; they each have their pros and cons. However, I do think that I’m in the minority with that opinion. Smaller bezels have quickly become a popular design aspect of modern smartphones, and I think that many consumers would take that into consideration, especially when you have smartphones with larger bezels on display next to smartphones with smaller bezels. Admittedly, when I do a side-by-side comparison of smartphones with different bezel sizes, the one with smaller bezels does tend to look better.
It’s still uncertain exactly what the next Pixel will look like, or who will make it. HTC was behind the design of the 1st generation Pixel. There have been leaks of certain system files that indicate the next Pixel may be made by HTC as well – which also indicate that the next Pixel may look similar to the HTC U 11 flagship (which featured both larger bezels and no headphone jack). I do hope that these rumors aren’t true. Between the Pixel’s premium price tag and unseasoned reputation, going against the grain seems like a risky endeavor if Google chooses that route.
Readers, what are your thoughts on the next generation Pixel? Do you think it absolutely needs to have smaller bezels (and a headphone jack) to continue gaining traction, or is Google’s brand enough to carry it through if not? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!