Why don’t the best premium Android phones have flat displays?

Why don’t the best premium Android phones have flat displays?

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

In 2014, Samsung launched the Galaxy Note Edge. The phone was notable for having a single curved side, which was the first time we saw this design technique. The device was a hot talking point for a while, but consumers weren’t particularly interested in shelling out for one. Flat Android phones remained the norm and Samsung phones with the “Edge” branding eventually faded into obscurity.

However, the curved display – or “waterfall display”, as it is sometimes called – does exist. Sure, it hasn’t been a star feature of phones like Samsung, as Samsung tried to do with the Note Edge and later the Galaxy S6 Edge, but it remains the hallmark of a more premium smartphone experience. For example, devices like the Galaxy S22 Ultra, OnePlus 10 Pro and Google Pixel 6 Pro all have curved sides. Meanwhile, the less expensive counterparts of those three phones have flat displays.

Android’s biggest competitor Apple doesn’t seem to care much for curved displays, though. The last iPhone line with curved edges was the iPhone 11 series, though these didn’t intrude into the actual display area. The most recent iPhone 13 series had completely flat displays across the board, and we expect to see the same in the iPhone 14 series soon.

Do you like curved displays?

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Now, it is still very easy to get flat Android phone. However, for whatever reason, almost all Android OEMs have collectively decided that curved glass is a premium feature, so most premium phones come with it. While premium Android handsets with flat displays certainly exist, they usually come with some caveats. This leaves the iPhone series the only non-compromising premium smartphone experience with a flat display.

Frankly, I’m tired of curved glass and looking enviously at flat iPhones. I really hope that the major Android brands can see the light and start offering their premium models with flat screens.

Related reading: Our Apple iPhone Buying Guide

curved vs flat android phone

Honor Magic 4 Pro Curved Edge Display

Harley Maranen / Android Authority

The number one reason OEMs think “curved glass = premium” is due to material consumption. The phone with curved display will have smaller bezels. The curved section will look like video and gaming content is floating in front of you.

Curved displays are bad outside it.

The most obvious problem with curved displays is that they make your phone more fragile. If you drop your phone and it falls to one side of it, you’re going to have a lot more chances of a busted display if it’s flat, as opposed to if it’s curved. Flat displays have more cushion between the glass and the floor. An interesting side effect of this is that smartphone cases are better for flat displays as they do not require the edges to be left open for the curved glass. This flat makes the phone even more durable.

The curved display has one singular advantage, which is not enough.

Another problem with the curved display is Android’s navigation system. If you want to operate the back gesture, it’s far easier to do so by sliding it from the outside of the flat display, as it’s curved, especially if that curve is harsh. Normally, the more subtle curves of the 2022 phones don’t make it difficult enough, but it can still be a real problem if you keep those phones in a case. In fact, our readers have told us that they are unhappy with the case design in general, and that’s one reason why.

Finally, curved displays are inherently more expensive than flat displays. This raises the bill of material cost for a smartphone, which essentially raises the price for the buyer. This means a more expensive phone without much real benefit to the user.

In fact, curved Android phones look great. That’s it. Once you break down their usefulness compared to flat Android phones, you realize you’ll be much better off without the curve.

You have options… if you don’t mind compromising

Sony Xperia 1 IV Speaker Grill

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Perhaps a lot of people are reading this thinking, “I have a nice Android phone with a flat display, so I don’t know what this guy is going on about.” I’ll readily admit that there are a lot of stellar flat Android phones out there. For example, the Google Pixel 6 is an exceptional phone with a flat display. It also went with an Editors’ Choice award in our review and we crowned it as the phone of the year 2021.

However, the Pixel 6 doesn’t have a telephoto lens, which some higher-end phones have, plus it has a lower refresh rate/resolution screen. Thus, you already have some compromises you are making to live with that flat display. Of course, you can always upgrade to the Pixel 6 Pro to get a telephoto lens and 120Hz QHD+ panel – and be saddled with the curved display.

The Android world is full of phones like this: phones with flat displays but also various compromises. Here are some notable ones:

  • Sony Xperia 1 IV — This phone has a great display without the usual hindrance of the selfie camera. It looks stunning and its flat edges keep the phone user-friendly. It also has a headphone jack and a microSD card slot! Of course, the phone also has awesome software support and an absolutely bonkers price of $1,599.
  • Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro — This is another phone with a completely flat and undistorted display. However, like the Pixel 6, it lacks a telephoto sensor at the back. Plus, like the Xperia 1 IV, it has a disappointing software promise. When you throw it at it’s one of the biggest/heaviest phones on the market, priced at around $1,300, you have yet another phone with a lot of compromises—one that really only appeals to gamers. is intended to.
  • samsung galaxy z phone – Both the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 have flat displays inside and out. However, they are foldable phones which may or may not be your cup of tea. They also don’t have the best cameras, especially the Flip models. Obviously, they’re also quite expensive, with the Galaxy Z Fold 4 starting at $1,799.
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus – Honestly, this is probably as close as you can get to a perfectly flat Android phone. Unfortunately, the Galaxy S22 Ultra comes with a better camera system, a much bigger battery, higher-resolution display, more RAM and more internal storage options. If you want the best ultra-premium phone, the Plus is hard to find after looking at the Ultra.

Meanwhile, the existence of the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max is literally one of the best from Apple (at least for now, until the iPhone 14 variants come along). Both have flat displays. There’s no compromise compared to other iPhones. You get the best iPhone available and a flat display. This simplicity makes me quite jealous.

Android OEM, Please Hear My Calls

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max Front on Carpet

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The best thing about the world of Android as compared to the world of iOS is our wealth of choices. No gaming is iphone. There is no iPhone designed for use as a professional photography tool. You can’t get a rough and tough iPhone. Apple has launched a maximum of five iPhones each year for the past few years, while Android OEMs launch dozens.

So why can’t I find a great no-compromise Android phone with a flat display?

What I want is a Galaxy S22 Ultra with a flat display or a Google Pixel 6 Pro without the curves. I wish it could potentially be the best phone of the year to at least have the option of a flat display.

Just give me a phone that matches the Pixel 6 Pro or Galaxy S22 Ultra but with a flat display.

Obviously, companies are not going to start giving us the option for flat displays like they give us the option of internal storage capacity. The Galaxy S23 Ultra will not have separate flat and curved versions. However, why does this require a curved version? Do consumers really want curved displays, or is this something Android OEMs have convinced themselves we want without really asking? Is it just another bizarre decision like killing the headphone jack, removing the microSD card slot, or refusing to offer 512GB or 1TB models of devices? Why does the phone need to be curved at all?

Unless companies already cap it off with Curves, I guess I’ll need to look with envy at the upcoming iPhone 14 Pro. However, I’m too sick to envy iPhones.

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