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Chinese manufacturers are trying to kill the smartphone bezel

A slew of 'bezel-less' smartphones have been leaked or released this month

I remember a time when I didn’t know — or care — what a bezel was. Now, thanks to the efforts of Chinese smartphone manufacturers, I may be able to forget about this component all together. (If you don't already know, it's the metal or plastic bit that surrounds a screen.) A slew of new devices have appeared this month — some leaked, some released officially — all showing companies doing their best to erase the bezel. It's one of the latest trends in smartphone design and has already made its way to the US in the form of the $239 Sharp Aquos Crystal and its infinity pool-like display. Looking at these devices it seems we'll be seeing a lot less edge in future.

Images of new smartphones from Oppo, LeTV, and Subor all show ostensibly "bezel-less" designs. Of course, there's some hyperbole involved: all of these phones have bezels of varying degrees of thickness, but they're still minuscule compared to mainstream devices like the iPhone 6 or HTC One. You might argue that Samsung's Galaxy S6 Edge doesn't have bezels either, although wrapping the screen around the sides is cheating. (Albeit the best sort of cheating; the ambitious and technically advanced kind.)
The question remains though: do we actually want bezel-less smartphones? The companies who have made these devices seem to be focusing on squeezing out the bezel mostly for the sake of marketing hype. It's a crowded marketplace, and as we've seen in the battle for the thinnest smartphone, companies need gimmicks to survive. (So much so that some of images below look more like overambitious concept renders than real devices.)
Bezel-less design does give a phone a pleasingly futuristic look, and means that manufacturers can fit larger displays into smaller cases. However, it also makes the devices more fragile (bezels protect the screen when a phone is dropped on its side) and means you're more likely to smudge the display. Some people might find the extra screen real estate useful for swiping in from the sides, but that's hardly a major benefit. There's also the question of how the rest of the phone performs. Bezels or not, there are some things every smartphone needs to succeed.

Images via
Subor, GizmoChina, and Weibo.

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