BY NICOLE YU '25
Fragile, ugly, and uselessly complicated—I’m completely against the new borderless, home-buttonless phones. Without bezels, or the space between the screen and the edges, borderless phones are becoming the new normal. However, they reveal how tech companies manipulate the consumer market. Ultimately, borderless phones are a shameless cash grab by tech companies to avoid innovating.
Most companies market their borderless phones as avant-garde, equipped with bigger screens, better cameras, and an aesthetically pleasing display. Screens on both the Samsung Note S10 and the iPhone X, for instance, extend to the edge, and the phone’s top and bottom are replaced with glass. This revision removes the home button and shifts the camera. Replacing clunky bodies, phones without bezels expand their screens without increasing phone size. However, these features come at a cost. In Apple products, new iPhones lack a headphone jack and front-facing speakers, forcing consumers to purchase Bluetooth or other specialized headphones. Apple’s decision to expand the screen size disregards that not everyone wants a larger display, especially at the expense of audio features. Bigger screens are also fragile—people tend to cradle the phone instead of gripping it to avoid blocking the screen. This makes it easier to drop, and the additional glass is more likely to break.
By far the worst part about borderless phones is the lack of a home button. I use the home button to turn on my phone, close out of apps, and quickly check any helpful screenshots, like schedules or phone numbers. Manufacturers tried to improve a feature that didn’t need improvement, converting a straightforward double click into a fiddly screen interface. Now, complicated sequences of swipes replace what a home button could do with one press. And Face ID, in comparison to Touch ID, is imperfect; while the concept is commendable, it’s unreliable in practice, and look-alikes can bypass the security measure. Considering the current pandemic as well, it’s not a fantastic idea to have people pull down their masks every time they unlock their phones.
If borderless phones don’t serve a practical benefit, why do they exist? History demonstrates that it could be one of many tactics in the tech industry to boost sales. In a 2020 lawsuit against Apple, the company admitted to slowing down iPhone batteries. According to state investigators, this action would have increased iPhone sales by millions each year, since many consumers would purchase new phones to fix the reduced performance. And with each new generation, critics slam Apple for marketing iPhone models with minute changes, such as a mere additional camera. The company has made new releases just different enough from previous generations to attract consumers.
Borderless phones are a cheap and easy way for companies to sell more products. There are no functional purposes—in fact, usability is reduced by sacrificing other features for a bigger screen. The borderless phone permits companies to put on a facade of innovation while only doing the bare minimum.