The notch is probably one of the most divisive design trends in smartphones today. Some hate it with a passion, others don’t mind it at all. Fortunately, most manufacturers that have screen cutouts provide an option to “hide” it. Most, but not all. HMD Global baffled users and fans when it suddenly pulled out the option to hide the notch. It turns out, it was at Google’s behest. And while it’s easy enough to write it off as something specific to Nokia phones, it doesn’t bode well for the Pixel 3 XL.
Responding to a complaint about the Nokia 6.1 Plus’ sudden inability to hide the notch, a forum moderator commented that it was removed “as per Google requirement” and left it at that. The folks over at Reddit, however, had a rather lively discussion on what that requirement was. And while the explanation is rather straightforward, the implications might be troubling.
In a nutshell, the Nokia 6.1 Plus, like many of HMD Global’s international Nokia phones, is an Android One phone, currently on Android 8.1 Oreo. As such, it is required to ship with a pristine Android experience and Android Oreo has no official support for a cutout, much less an option to hide it. That comes in Android 9 Pie, which still doesn’t have an official way to mask the cutout.
This is going to be a requirement that all Android One phones will be facing. But since they are shipping pure Android, that will also apply to Pixel phones. That would imply that users will have no way to hide the “bucket” notch that the Pixel 3 XL is already being criticized for.
That might be for the best though since the size of Pixel 3 XL’s cutout would be too big to mask with black bars. There’s also a possibility that Google will have its own special Pixel-only option to hide the notch (it has, after all, some Pixel-only features). That, however, would mean it would be unfairly imposing a requirement on Android One OEMs that it itself isn’t going to follow.