LG and their tiny bezels: how small should display bezels get?

by: Jonathan FeistApril 16, 2014

LG Isai FL Blue And White @evleaks

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who has the tiniest bezel of them all? @evleaks have done what he does best, leaking a photo of a new phone from LG. The LG Isai FL is reportedly on its way to Japan through au, a sub-brand of the Japanese carrier KDDI. For those that dislike big bezels on a phone, the LG Isai FL may just be the fairest of them all.

The leaked photo of the LG Isai FL clearly shows off a continuing trend with LG’s high-end devices, offering the highest screen to front surface ratio around. Based on recent measurements, the LG G2 holds the current smartphone screen ratio record at 75.7% (or 75.9% if you ask LG.) We expect LG to continue this trend, as there is some speculation that the LG Isai FL could, in-fact, be an alternative branded phone that the rest of the world will come to know as the LG G3.

Moving forward, many manufacturers have been putting an emphasis on larger display size ratios. Recently, HTC has been under fire for the design of their newest flagship phone, the HTC One (M8). The One (M8) packs a 5-inch display with side bezels that are as small as any of LG’s leading devices, however, the inclusion of a large black bar across the bottom that simply contains the letters HTC, has been a sore spot for users. HTC avoided discussing this in a recent design philosophy video, but has put out an apology, of sorts, defending the need for the large bottom bezel.

HTC One (M8) Black Bar Defense

It appears that tiny bezels will be a key feature for established global manufacturers and smaller players alike. KDDI, as another leak suggests, will be getting a new Android smartphone and tablet from Sharp. The Aquos mini SHL24 phone and Aquos Pad SHT22 tablet will both pack the Snapdragon 800 chipset, 2GB of RAM and other high-end comparable specifications. The 4.5-inch 1080p display on the SHL24 and the 7-inch 1080p of the SHT22 tablet will be surrounded by some of the smallest side and top bezels in their categories, further raising the bar.

sharp aquos phone tablet

As the trend continues toward smaller and smaller bezels, even toward non-existent bezels and screens that wrap around the edge, as teased by Samsung, we wonder, how little bezel is too little bezel? Let’s break that out into a few main points of view:

Bezel-less design aesthetics

There is no question that a tiny to non-existent bezel on a device gives it that Hollywood infused futuristic quality that makes our inner-geek smile. However, there is a visual importance to having a border around your display, this is primarily to help the human eye easily distinguish between the display itself and the world behind it. It is this same principle that we use, possibly unknowingly, when we frame a photograph, as opposed to simply tacking it to the wall. It is certainly a matter of personal taste, but, based on this philosophy, a larger bezel should help the average user to focus on their display, possibly reducing eye strain.

Bezel-less device handling

sharp-AQUOS-PAD-SHT22-21-bezel-less handling

How do you grip your phone or tablet? For our phones, especially when we get into the 4.5-inch and greater size range, it has become increasingly difficult to use a device with one hand. Decreasing the size of the bezel allows for a smaller overall device size in offering the same display size, making one handed operation more feasible. At the same time, a minimal side bezel allows for the palm of our hand to accidentally touch the screen as you stretch your thumb across to the far side.

As for tablets, if you are like me, you have thumb prints on the front bottom corners of your device and on the sides, a thumbs length up from the bottom. Different sized tablets are held differently, but the increased size and weight, as compared to a phone, often results in the need to touch the front surface of the device. Once again, the size of your device and how you choose to hold it will determine how large a bezel is right for you.

Bezel-less physical build

As we’ve seen in the case of the HTC One (M8), the large bottom bezel is required in order to handle all of the electronic components packed within the device. The teardown of the Samsung Galaxy S5 shows us, along with the physical buttons, the Galaxy S5 also requires some bezel area to make everything fit. Aside from packing all those goodies into a device, there is an argument that a bezel area is required to install a wrap-around protective case without disturbing the display area. Once again this depends on the hardware and personal taste.

With so many of the described advantages of tiny bezels coming down to personal taste, we must ask you what you think. Place you opinion in our poll, then sound off in the comments below.

[poll id=”530″]

  • harsh

    Next nexus should be like this.:)

  • Simon Johnson

    LG and Sharp are onto something good! I want a wrap around screen in the future. Just make it virtually unbreakable, and have a sub 4.8 inch form factor.

  • dandroid13

    It looks good, but makes the device more fragile…

  • K

    The LG G2 has excellent bezels

  • ConCal

    Zero Bezel unless its a tablet.

    • Guest123

      I’m with ya there! I never need to touch the bezels on a phone, even at 5.5″ the phone isn’t so large I need a bezel.

  • MasterMuffin

    Who’s the troll who voted for bigger bezels?? D:

    • bulkycrap

      HTC C.E.O !! :D

      • MasterMuffin

        Of course :D

      • Piotr Rogulski

        And Sony :D

    • Me?

  • Big bezels on the top and bottom for when I am playing landscape games. Minimal bezels on the sides.

    I am alone, in this land of zero bezel people…

    • aaron

      Nope, I’m with you, as long as the bezel is symmetry, same width between left-right and top-bottom.

  • Afnan Muhammad

    I wish Sharp sell their smartphone worldwide.

  • K2

    Bezel that isnt as much as as it is on the galaxy tab 8 but isnt as less as it is on the newer galaxy tab pro 8.4, will be the sweet spot in my opinion in terms of avoiding accidental palm touches on the screen yet preserving looks to some extent.

  • somedudes

    the thinner the bezel the easier the screen is to damage as i found out a few days ago with my s4 , just dropped it less that 12 inches face down onto a stone floor and the digitizer cracked straight across , so much for gorilla glass they would be better having raised bezel corners to stop impacts on the screen when dropped.

  • John Jonathan Salud

    Bigger bezels, more durability.

  • Nathan Borup

    Gotta have bezels for a good case to protect the phone… otherwise the case will cover part of your screen

    • John Garlits

      Yeah, my G2 case barely covers, and then at that it can encroach a bit on the screen edge, making some functionality difficult.

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  • John

    A way to solve the accidental recognition would be to have the software itself to ignore them, that’s what iOS does.

  • I’d love to see smaller bezels, just not on rounded edged phones.
    I think the tablet in the last pic is lookin’ quite fiiiine…

  • Da Fuq

    I think a premium build is much more important than thin bezels. And on tablets, the bezel has to be thick as a thumb all around.

  • ichuck7

    I love the G2 partly for this reason (among its other great qualities.) Although I have accidentally hit the sides on more than one occasion, it is very optimal having a giant screen on a one handed device.

  • ichuck7

    Wasn’t the iPhone like one of the last to the small bezel party? Their phones always screamed of wasted space .

  • Unpopular opinion, but I like to have a bit of bezel on the sides in case I want to throw on a screen protector. I swear it was nearly impossible to put one on the Moto X because most of the ones I found were perfect cuts which left no room for error. Either have the side bubble up or have the screen protector run across the edge of the screen.

    OCD gets me every time.

  • Andrew White

    The Sharp Aquos 302sh 5.2″ (only available in Japan) has an amazing screen to body ratio at 80.5% with virtually no bezel at top and sides.
    It would be nice to see another player, mainstream in the smartphone market.