Apple’s leaked take on the punch-hole camera would make it stand out from the Android crowd once again

    The asymmetric punch-holes may look weird, but that could be an advantage


    It’s no secret that Apple, like all other manufacturers, wants to shrink the footprint of its front-facing camera and the array of sensors enabling Face ID. And now, an iPhone 14 Pro leak has gained traction that shows off a potentially novel solution: A centered pill-shaped cutout with another circular one next to it at the top of the screen. If true, it’s certainly a divisive design, but it excels in one quality that is important to Apple above anything else — it’s unique.

    You see, Android manufacturers may have invented the notch that the iPhone is so famous and uniquely recognized for, but everyone other than Apple has long ventured into the world of punch-hole, dot-shaped selfie cameras, with them becoming a standard design feat differentiating the Android crowd from Apple’s (dare I say) old-fashioned notch. Some Android manufacturers have even started hiding the front-facing camera underneath the display altogether, most notably Samsung on the Galaxy Z Fold3.


    Meanwhile, Apple is pretty much the last holdout for the notch due to the complicated sensor array needed for Face ID to work, especially after Google gave up on the technology after just one generation. But Apple has made this necessity a virtue, and its phones are instantly recognized thanks to it. Just look at advertisements showing off iPhone apps. Notch equals iPhone today. No Android manufacturer can claim to have such a distinctive front design. You can only really differentiate between flagship phones at a glance when looking at their backs. For Apple, that’s different. An iPhone is unmistakably an iPhone, no matter which side you look at.

    I’m sure Apple could have come up with a less obnoxious, less complicated-looking solution for replacing the notch. But, if the leak turns out to be correct, it hasn’t, and I’m sure Apple’s designers very much know what they’re doing. There might also be technological obstacles forcing the company to adopt a design like this, but Apple, above anything else, wants to stand out from the crowd. With its iconic home button long gone (other than on the iPhone SE), the notch was thrust into its current role as the iPhone’s distinguishing feature. And now, the pill + dot-shaped face might be the next differentiating design feature setting upcoming generations of iPhones apart from the Android masses — love it or hate it.

    In the end, what we see here is just an early leak, though, based on an unassembled display panel. It’s certainly possible that Apple has a longer, equally unique pill in mind for the cutout, with the display panel only leaving the exact parts uncovered that need an unobstructed view — there may be an extra mask on top of it covering the space between the two holes. This would still make for a unique look, but much like the notch, it wouldn’t be something invented by Apple. Phones like the Samsung Galaxy S10+, the OnePlus Nord, and quite a few Huawei phones have used their own versions of pill-shaped front-facing camera arrays, though (as far as I know) no phone has ever put one of these in the center.

    Only time will tell if the leak turns out to be accurate, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple wanted to double down on its unique look and turn what, at first glance, appears to be an unfortunate design limitation into a distinguishing feature — just like it did with the dreaded notch.

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