Official: The shape of the smartphone is changing forever

Taller, narrower, and (some) notchier

The shape of the smartphone is changing as a fad turns into a long-term trend, a business analyst has noted.

Analyst outfit IHS Markit said it expected wide aspect ratios – either 18:9 or 18+:9 – to make up two-thirds of new device sales in Q3 of this year. At the start of 2017, the "traditional" 16:9 ratio display was seen on over 95 per cent of phones sold.


The Notch contagion is spreading slower than phone experts thought


The taller, narrower shape is no longer a flagship feature, the company noted.

"Smartphone makers are now aggressively applying 18:9 aspect ratio of TFT LCD to their 2018 models even for mid-end and entry-level smartphones, instead of using high-priced flexible AMOLED panels," said IHS Markit's Hiroshi Hayase.

Notch-hosting phones will continue to proliferate, said the analyst. You can think of a Notch as an ugly cutout (glass half-empty), or simply a useful extension of the display, allowing extra information to be displayed (glass half-full).

IHS Markit display ratios

OLED panel pioneer Samsung introduced the 18:9 ratio in its own Galaxy S8+ last year, but didn't feel it necessary to mar the display with a cutout. That came with Apple's iPhone X, much copied this year, with its 18+:9 display. A survey of 150 new devices released so far in 2018 found that 22 per cent copied Apple and introduced a notch, despite official support from Android not being introduced until later this year (that means notification icons should not disappear).

The 18:9 format is described as a "wide angle ratio", but it has resulted in narrower, more comfortable phones to hold. The width of the display can be reduced at the expense of height.

It seems budget panel makers have just decided that's what people want. ®

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