Leaks about the “pill and hole” design of the iPhone 14 Pro models started months ago, but Apple still might have a surprise up its sleeve. A new report indicates that software will merge the two display cutouts into one.
Note that this is not a hardware change – the screen between the two cutouts will be darkened in software so they appear to be combined.
iPhone 14 Pro screen notch could be longer pill shape instead
The screen notch has been a iPhone feature for enough years that most users have stopped noticing it, but Apple keeps working to shrink it. It got smaller in the iPhone 13 series, and reportedly is about to be further reduced for two of the upcoming iPhone 14 models.
Numerous leaks going back months have indicated that the two iPhone 14 Pro models will have “pill and hole” screen cutouts. These make room for the front-facing camera and the Face ID sensors.
But that’s perhaps not the end of the story. Wednesday, came word that the two cutouts will seem to be one. “The discrete pill and hole cutouts are not visually separated when the display is powered on, but in fact appear as one contiguous, longer pill shape,” reports MacRumors.
Another tipster quickly corroborated the report. “This is true. It looks like one wide pill shaped cutout. Having that separation would look odd during use,” said Mark Gurman from Bloomberg via Twitter.
The look will supposedly be achieved by iOS 16 filling in the screen pixels between the two cutouts. But there will be screen between them, which is apparently why earlier reports haven’t picked this up.
And that area between the cutouts allegedly won’t be dead space. Apple “will use this space to make its privacy indicators for the camera and microphone more visible,” according to 9to5Mac. These are small green and orange dots that light up to show the camera or microphone is in use. They first appeared in iOS 14.
Why would Apple create a virtual notch?
Apparently, the virtual notch is less distracting than a hole-and-pill design. If you look at mockups, like the one above, you can see how this might be true. Having a separate hole and pill might interfere with the icons and status buttons at the top of the screen. A unified, elongated oval almost as big as the current notch might be less visually confusing (maybe).
The change is relevant only to the two pricier iPhone 14 models. Previous leaks indicate that the standard 6.1-inch iPhone 14 and the new 14 Plus will keep the same screen notch as the iPhone 13. Only the Pro versions will get a new design.
Definite word on whether Apple will visually merge the two iPhone 14 Pro holepunch cutouts will have to wait until the September 7 Apple event during which the entire iPhone 14 will also set certainly be unveiled.
Update: This article has been updated multiple times with additional rumors about the iPhone 14 display cutouts.