This week, Google released the first Android P developer preview. Among the new features is built-in support for display cutouts, colloquially known as notches. Just as I support sticking with the headphone jack, I prefer phones without notches.
I criticized Google multiple times for mistakingly following Apple and prematurely removing the headphone jack from its Pixel phones. I won’t do that this time — Google’s move to support notches natively in Android makes plenty of sense to me: Android phone makers are embracing the notch in droves. It follows that Android should support it as well (however, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL will probably have notches as well, which I will whine about loudly).
I can’t blame Google for supporting with software what is already happening with hardware. Android phone makers, though — I am not impressed. For the love of all things screen, stop copying Apple for the sake of copying Apple.
This unscientific poll by my colleague Evan Blass shows I’m not alone in this line of thinking:
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) March 8, 2018
When you’re buying a new smartphone, there are already plenty of difficult decisions you have to make: Android or iOS, normal size or plus size, single or dual camera, carrier “discount” or unlocked — just to name a few. Tradeoffs like headphone jacks and notches really should not have to be part of the equation.
As Samsung and a few outliers have shown, you do not have to rip off Apple to please your customers. Just because it makes sense for do it, doesn’t mean it makes sense for your company. You can include a headphone jack, exclude a notch, and still offer an amazing phone in 2017 and in 2018.
They say consumers should vote with their wallet. I wholeheartedly agree. All things being equal, buy a phone that does not make these unnecessary compromises. Trendy should never be more important than practical.
One day I will look back on this stance and chuckle. Notches will have gone away, as will the usefulness of headphones jacks. But that doesn’t mean I’m willing to make these tradeoffs now, just because Apple has made certain decisions for its products, and a bunch of Android phone makers have blindly followed.
Yay to headphone jacks, nay to notches, and a big hurrah for consumer choice.
ProBeat is a column in which Emil rants about whatever crosses him that week.