Last week on the Droid Life Show, I admitted that I’m officially over curved displays. This came as a surprise to Kellen, who has felt this way for quite some time. Regardless, this is my new opinion and now that I’m #TeamFlatScreen, I’m praying the Pixel 4 from Google has a flat display later this year.
Before I get too much into why I no longer enjoy using curved displays, let’s talk about the Pixel 4. Right now, there isn’t any info out there indicating that Google will use a curved display on this phone. From what we can gather, the display on the Pixel 4 will be like all other Pixel displays — pretty darn flat. Unfortunately, all Google has given us in its own hype images is a look at the rear of the device. So far, it looks promising.
Kellen Was Right All Along
It hurts to say, but after having used every curved phone out there, Kellen was right all along. After I was done with the Pixel 3 XL, I went to the Galaxy S10+ as my daily device. Then I left the S10+ for the OnePlus 7 Pro. That’s me going from flat, to curved, to curved. When I think usability and about certain actions I need to complete on my phone, I realized over the course of this time that a flat display is better in a few ways.
One of the main issues I’ve come across is in certain games I play. For example, I play a game called 8 Ball Pool. Sometimes, the cue is positioned off the side of the display, meaning you have to swing your finger across the curved part of the screen to control where you’re aiming. At least on this OnePlus 7 Pro, touch sensitivity is hit and miss in these curved areas, so controlling the cue has been difficult. Thankfully, the developers of the game thought ahead and allow the player to swipe their finger anywhere on the screen to control the cue. However, if the screen was flat, I wouldn’t have to worry about it in the first place.
The next issue I have with the curve are Android apps in general, but it’s more about how the Android team designed the navigational UI standards. As you probably know, a lot of apps have pullout drawers on the left side. Apps like Google Play, Gmail, Hangouts, and countless other apps use this layout. With a curved display, this experience isn’t ideal, but this isn’t something we haven’t already discussed.
As Kellen wrote back in January, “Android in general is built around swipes, whether they be an up or down swipe to get into apps or notifications, or edge swipes to access menus and change panels within an app. Almost all of Google’s apps contain a left-situated edge menu. Android requires a ton of edge-related swipes throughout a day. On Samsung phones (or any curved display phone), that regular swipe makes me want to smash things.”
Not Made for Cases
Another crazy development in my life has been the usage of cases with my phones. I used to never use cases, but since these OEMs have decided to make phones more and more expensive, while also making them more and more fragile with glass and other precious materials, I feel as if I need to protect them the best I can. This has led me to to the realization that curved displays + a case totally sucks.
Not only does a case making the swiping motion from the sides more difficult, but your device is more vulnerable during falls because cases can’t go over the curved portion of the display. So yeah, cases on a curved phone really only protect the backside from a drop. I wouldn’t say that’s ideal.
At Least It Looks Good
Counterpoint for all of these troubles is the fact that it looks good. There is no denying the immersive experience you can have while watching videos and all of that jazz, but I’m sorry, I’m going to take usability over aesthetic appeal for this one. If using my phone only meant I was looking at it and never had to interact with it, or once all apps have moved on from the pullout navigation/menu drawer as Google appears to be doing, then curved displays might win me back over.
Again, we have no reason to suspect the Pixel 4 will have a curved display. It’ll likely be quite similar to the very, very subtle curve found on the Pixel 3, which I wouldn’t even label as a curve. The great thing about Android, you see, is that we have options! If you like the curve, there is no shortage of options. If you don’t want the curve, there are options for you, too. We’re truly blessed, friends.