New iPhone 8 Concepts Explore Sensor Notch and Navigation Options

With the release of HomePod firmware last Friday, we pretty much have absolute confirmation of the iPhone 8’s display design — which, notably, includes the somewhat-controversial sensor “notch” or cutout at the top.

Some people have called the cutout ugly, while others have been a bit more forgiving. At this point, we’re not really sure whether Apple will embrace the sensor cutout or attempt to hide it. This week, though, we may be getting a better idea of what each option could look like, thanks to two separate sets of renders posted by UI designers Allen Pike and Max Rudberg.

Rudberg specifically explored these UI options with his set of mockups, offering three different versions, which you can see below. Apple could embrace the sensor notch or hide it with black display pixels (which display much darker on OLED screens). His third option mimics the appearance of bezels by using black pixels on both the top and bottom of the phone.

For his part, Rudberg has changed his mind about the “notch” and now hopes that Apple embraces the sensor cutout. “Beforehand I was fond of the idea of blending the statusbar with the hardware, but seeing the mockups like this, I’m not so sure,” he wrote. “Blending the statusbar with the hardware makes the screen seem smaller than it is and the result is less striking. I’m not leaning towards that Apple will embrace the notch.”

Rudberg’s mockups also explore another user interface option for Apple, which was further expanded upon by Pike in his own blog post: Navigation options appearing in the iPhone 8’s rumored Function Area. Rather than having Back or Edit buttons at the top of the display, both Rudberg and Pike imagine these UI inputs being placed next to the virtual Home button at the bottom of the smartphone.

The iOS 11 betas, Pike points out, implement new large banner titles on native applications like Mail, Messages and the App Store. Curiously, these new banners currently sit below the navigation options. On current-generation devices like the iPhone 7, this leaves a “weirdly empty” white space. Pike contends that iOS 11 for the iPhone 8 could shift the topmost navigation inputs to the bottom bar, likely in what is rumored to be a Function Area.

The “split status bar” design will likely see phone data like signal, battery life, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth indicators split on either side of the notch featuring the front-facing camera, earpiece and 3D sensors. This was a fairly unpopular and controversial design when it was first leaked, but for better or worse, it’s now all but confirmed thanks to code hidden deep within HomePod’s firmware. It’s currently unknown where Apple will place the iOS clock, which usually occupies the top-center of the display.

In addition to an edge-to-edge OLED display and new statusbar design, the iPhone 8 is largely expected to sport advanced 3D sensors and biometric facial recognition, front-facing lasers for optimized AR capabilities, and wireless charging. The flagship device is slated for an unveiling sometime next month — although it could ship a bit later.