Comparing smartphones to find the most bezel-less design

Bezel-less phones on table

A bezel is the name of the frame around displays, like your TV or smartphone. TV and computer monitor manufacturers have long been shaving down these edges to offer frame-less designs, and it looks like the smartphone bezel may soon become an endangered component as well. In the quest to give us bigger and better screens without creating clownishly huge phones, manufacturers have the bezel firmly in their sights.

Talk of a bezel-less phone has been swirling in recent months, and the screen-to-body ratio has been steadily climbing in many of the top new releases. The bezel-less look is distinctly futuristic and, despite some compromises, we are creeping inexorably toward it. We decided to compare some of the top phones to see who can boast the smallest bezels right now.

Essential PH-1

  • Screen-to-body ratio: 84.9 percent
  • Screen size: 5.71 inches

The Essential PH-1 from Android co-creator Andy Rubin’s company instantly won praise for the edge-to-edge screen design. This is as close as we’ve seen so far to the front of a phone being entirely screen. You’ll find the thinnest of bezels on the sides and top of the screen, which has rounded corners, like the LG G6. There is still a fairly big bezel on the bottom, though it doesn’t visibly house anything — the fingerprint sensor is on the back. The Essential PH-1 raises an obvious design problem with bezel-less design – where does the front-facing camera go? The designers decided to include a curved dip at the top of the display that eats into the screen. It’s an interesting move that has divided opinion, but regardless of whether you like it or not, this is the leading smartphone when it comes to screen-to-body ratio.

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Best Buy Essential

Samsung Galaxy S9, S9 Plus and Note 8

1189763 autosave v1 3 samsung galaxy s8 device 6
  • Screen-to-body ratio: 83.6 percent, 84.2 percent, and 83.2 percent
  • Screen size: 5.8 inches, 6.2 inches, and 6.3 inches

With a 5.8-inch curved “Infinity Display,” the Galaxy S9 is one of the best-looking phones on our list. Its bigger brother, the S9 Plus, actually boasts a slightly higher screen-to-body ratio with its 6.2 screen. There is still a thin bezel top and bottom, and an even slimmer one around the sides, though it’s not really noticeable when you look at the phone head on because of those sloping edges. Samsung ditched the home button with the S8 and used Android’s standard navigation icons on the screen, so the bottom bezel is empty, but the top bezel still contains the iris scanner, proximity sensor, earpiece, and selfie camera. These are some of the biggest screens on the market, but they’re packed into svelte bodies — largely because of the 18.5:9 aspect ratio.

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Samsung Amazon Best Buy

Asus Zenfone 5 and 5Z

Asus Zenfone 5 review
Simon Hill/Digital Trends
Simon Hill/Digital Trends
  • Screen-to-body ratio: 83.6 percent
  • Screen size: 6.2 inches

There’s no denying the resemblance to a certain Apple phone here, but Asus has actually managed to achieve a higher screen-to-body-ratio because its notch is 26 percent smaller. The company claims it has a 90 percent screen-to-body ratio, but by our calculations it’s actually 83.6 percent. The 19:9 aspect ratio has enabled Asus to pack this large screen into an impressively small body. There’s still a small bezel at the bottom, but this phone does look and feel very nice and it comes in at half the price of the iPhone X. In fact, if you opt for the Zenfone 5 with its midrange processor, rather than the Snapdragon 845-toting 5Z, then it will cost you even less. Expect to see it on the market this summer.

Xiaomi Mi Mix

Xiaomi Mi Mix review
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
  • Screen-to-body ratio: 83.6 percent
  • Screen size: 6.4 inches

You may not have heard of this huge phone, but if you have it was almost certainly because of the edge-to-edge display. Xiaomi claimed a 91.3 percent screen-to-body ratio, but when the phone landed it turned out to have very thin black borders around the screen on the sides and top, resulting in an actual body-to-screen ratio of 83.6 percent. It was still top of the charts at the time, and Xiaomi deserves credit for being in the bezel-less vanguard, but it has now been surpassed. Xiaomi solved the selfie camera conundrum by housing it in the fairly large bottom bezel, which is an awkward place to put it.

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Mi

iPhone X

apple iphone x review hands on
  • Screen-to-body ratio: 82.9 percent
  • Screen size: 5.8 inches

The rumors were true. Apple’s special iPhone X (pronounced ten) has an almost all-screen design. It’s a gorgeous 5.8-inch OLED panel with curved corners and the thinnest of frames. Apple decided to include a indented notch at the top that’s packed with sensors, a speaker, microphone, and the front-facing camera. With a resolution of 2,436 x 1,125 pixels this is the sharpest display we’ve ever seen in an iPhone. The Super Retina display actually has an aspect ratio of 19.5:9, which makes it the widest screen we’ve seen, but that cut-out at the top does eat into a portion of the picture. Apple got round the problem of removing the TouchID fingerprint sensor, by replacing it with FaceID, which uses the front-facing camera to identify your face before unlocking.

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Apple Ebay

AT&T Sprint

T-Mobile Verizon

LG V30

best lg v30 cases
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
  • Screen-to-body ratio: 81.2 percent
  • Screen size: 6 inches

LG has continued the trend it started with the LG G6 in its LG V30, which actually has an even higher screen-to-body ratio, though not by much. This 6-inch display is also an OLED panel, like the iPhone X, but it boasts a resolution of 2,880 x 1,440 pixels, making it one of the sharpest displays around. It’s also Dolby Vision and HDR-compliant. LG has put the fingerprint sensor around the back of the phone, but there is still a small bezel top and bottom. The top bezel houses the front-facing camera, speaker, and other sensors. The screen has rounded corners and a very gentle curve at each side.

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Verizon LG

Nokia 8 Sirocco

nokia 8 sirocco hands on review mwc 2018 2
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
  • Screen-to-body ratio: 81.1 percent
  • Screen size: 5.5 inches

The Nokia brand has been resurgent under HMD Global, with the company rolling out an impressive lineup of Android phones with great build quality. The Nokia 8 Sirocco combines some modern design trends with a glass-and-metal construction that looks and feels expensive, slim bezels, and curved edges on the display, but it retains the traditional 16:9 aspect ratio. It seems squat at first, because the new 18:9 or larger aspect ratio is fast becoming standard, but this phone has a lovely feel in hand.

Huawei Mate 10 Pro

Huawei Mate 10 Pro
  • Screen-to-body ratio: 80.9 percent
  • Screen size: 6 inches

The colorful AMOLED in the Mate 10 Pro is 6 inches, but sports a slightly lower resolution than some of the flagship pack at 2,160 x 1,080 pixels, though you’re unlikely to notice. It has an 18:9 aspect ratio, which is fast becoming standard. A thin bezel at the top houses the speaker and selfie camera, and there’s room for a Huawei logo at the bottom, but this is an impressively slim body for such a large screen.

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
  • Screen-to-body ratio: 80.8 percent
  • Screen size: 5.99 inches

The original Mi Mix from Xiaomi was one of the first to sport an edge-to-edge display, but the follow-up is significantly different. The screen size has dropped by just under half an inch, and the aspect ratio has changed to 18:9. It still has an impressively large proportion of screen on the front, but its screen-to-body ratio is lower than the original. There’s a frame around the display and a sizable bottom chin that houses the selfie camera.

OnePlus 5T

oneplus 5t review screen protector
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
  • Screen-to-body ratio: 80 percent
  • Screen size: 6.01 inches

If you want to squeeze every last ounce of value out of your smartphone, then the OnePlus 5T will certainly be on your radar. It packs a 6-inch AMOLED into a curved, attractive, aluminium body. The biggest change for OnePlus design-wise was the move to slim down those bezels and switch to an 18:9 aspect ratio for the display. That trick allowed OnePlus to pack an extra half inch of screen into a phone that’s almost exactly the same size as its predecessor.

LG G6

LG G6 review
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
  • Screen-to-body ratio: 78.6 percent
  • Screen size: 5.7 inches

It was LG that kicked off the widescreen trend, creating a 5.7-inch screen with an unusual 18:9 aspect ratio. Alongside the shrinking bezels, this is another way to pack in more screen space without making phones too big to comfortably handle. Some argue it’s a bit of a cheat, boosting the screen size, which is always measured diagonally, but even with letterboxed content it’s a trend we like. More screen is more screen regardless of aspect ratio and a lot of content is filmed in widescreen format anyway and then cropped later. You’ll only find a logo on the bottom bezel and the thin top bezel houses the camera, earpiece, and sensors. There are thin bezels at the sides, too, but it’s the rounded corners on the display that have proved to be a jarring design decision for some.

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T-Mobile B&H

HTC U11 Plus

HTC U11 Plus vs. HTC U11
HTC
HTC
  • Screen-to-body ratio: 78 percent
  • Screen size: 6 inches

There’s no doubt that HTC has been working on slimming down the bezels, because the U11 Plus has a much higher screen-to-body ratio than its smaller sibling. Packing a 6-inch, 2,880 x 1,440-pixel Super LCD, this phone has a slimmer frame all round. This was partly achieved by shifting the fingerprint sensor around the back, instead of including a lozenge shaped sensor at the bottom of the screen, like the U11.

Honor 7X

honor 7x review in hand full
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
  • Screen-to-body ratio: 77 percent
  • Screen size: 5.93 inches

A 5.93-inch screen with a 2,160 x 1,080-pixel resolution and an 18:9 aspect ratio would come as no surprise in a high-end phone, but the Honor 7X only costs $200. That just goes to show you that the influence of the bezel-less trend is being felt right across the market. There are bezels top and bottom housing the speaker, camera, and logo, and there are also thin bezels around the sides, but this is an impressive screen-to-body ratio for a budget phone.

Google Pixel 2 XL

Best Google Pixel 2 XL screen protectors
Julian Chokkattu / Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu / Digital Trends
  • Screen-to-body ratio: 76.4 percent
  • Screen size: 6 inches

The LG-manufactured Pixel 2 XL has the same 18:9 aspect ratio as the LG G6 and LG V30, but sports a larger, 6-inch screen. It’s a stunning OLED display that’s sharp and colorful, with a resolution of 2,880 x 1,440 pixels. There are still bezels all around the screen, but the larger bezels top and bottom house front-facing stereo speakers, so at least the space is put to good use. The fingerprint sensor is on the back, in the middle, just like its predecessor.

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Verizon

Sony Xperia XZ2

Sony Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact hands on review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
  • Screen-to-body ratio: 76.1 percent
  • Screen size: 5.7 inches

Sony’s long-awaited redesign shaves down its bezels considerably and rounds off the classic rectangular design. There are still fairly large bezels top and bottom, compared to other recent releases, but we much prefer the look and feel of this phone to last year’s Sony Xperia XZ1. The phone also has a curved glass back with a fingerprint sensor beneath the camera lens.

HTC U11

HTC U11
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
  • Screen-to-body ratio: 71.4 percent
  • Screen size: 5.5 inches

In our HTC U11 review, we felt compelled to mention the dated look of the front face and the relatively big bezels. Glancing further down the list at some of the phones with even bigger bezels than the U11, we can see how quickly and far this trend has come in the last few months. The U11 has lozenge-shaped, recessed, touch-sensitive fingerprint scanner at the bottom and the usual mix of speaker, camera, and sensors at the top. It does also have side bezels which are exaggerated slightly by the curved glass as it blends into the frame. The U11 also has Edge panels, enabling you to squeeze to launch the camera and trigger apps, which may account for an extra slice of width on the frame.

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B&H

Lenovo Moto G5S Plus

Lenovo Moto G5S Plus review
Christian de Looper/Digital Trends
Christian de Looper/Digital Trends
  • Screen-to-body ratio: 71.3 percent
  • Screen size: 5.5 inches

The budget smartphone market had just caught up with the glass-and-metal trend when the goalposts were moved again. The Moto G5S Plus still has big bezels, but interestingly the screen-to-body ratio is still higher than in the iPhone 7. Lenovo has a large recessed fingerprint sensor on the bottom, and there’s room for a superfluous logo in the huge top bezel, along with the camera and everything else. The shrinking bezel movement hasn’t completely conquered the budget end of the market just yet.

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Motorola

Google Pixel 2

Google Pixel 2 Review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
  • Screen-to-body ratio: 67.9 percent
  • Screen size: 5 inches

Surprisingly, Google’s Pixel 2 has even bigger bezels than the original Pixel, which scored a screen-to-body ratio of 69 percent. Both devices were manufactured by HTC, but the Pixel 2 does at least take advantage of the extra space with a pair of front-facing speakers. The fingerprint sensor is round back, just like its predecessor. There are bezels at the sides, but it’s the thick bezels top and bottom that catch the eye. The larger Pixel 2 XL was also able to pack in front-facing speakers, but maintained a much higher screen-to-body ratio.

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Verizon

Apple iPhone 8 and 8 Plus

apple iphone 8 plus review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
  • Screen-to-body ratio: 65.6 percent and 67.7 percent
  • Screen size: 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches

In general, the smaller the screen, the lower the screen-to-body ratio, and so it’s not a big surprise that the iPhone 8 has the lowest screen-to-body ratio on the list. However, even the 8 Plus, with its much bigger display has stonking big bezels. The round, recessed Touch ID demands a lot of room at the bottom and that seems to be matched by a thick band at the top, which only houses the small front-facing camera, earpiece, and sensors. Both Phones also have noticeably bigger side bezels around the screen than their competitors, but they may be the last big bezels we see from Apple in light of the iPhone X.

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Apple Ebay

Table for comparison at-a-glance

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
 Phone  Screen Size  Aspect Ratio  Screen-to-body Ratio
Essential PH-1  5.71 inches  19:10  84.9 percent
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus  6.2 inches  18.5:9  84.2 percent
Samsung Galaxy S9  5.8 inches  18.5:9  83.6 percent
Asus Zenfone 5 or 5Z  6.2 inches  19:9  83.6 percent
Xiaomi Mi Mix  6.2 inches  17:9  83.6 percent
Samsung Galaxy Note 8  6.3 inches  18.5:9  83.2 percent
iPhone X  5.8 inches  19.5:9  82.9 percent
LG V30  6 inches  18:9  81.2 percent
Nokia 8 Sirocco  5.5 inches  16:9  81.1 percent
Huawei Mate 10 Pro  6 inches  18:9  80.9 percent
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2  5.99 inches  18:9  80.8 percent
OnePlus 5T  6.01 inches  18:9  80 percent
LG G6  5.7 inches  18:9  78.6 percent
HTC U11 Plus  6 inches  18:9  78 percent
Honor 7X  5.93 inches  18:9  77 percent
Google Pixel 2 XL  6 inches  18:9  76.4 percent
Sony Xperia XZ2  5.7 inches  18:9  76.1 percent
HTC U11  5.5 inches  16:9  71.4 percent
Lenovo Moto G5S Plus  5.5 inches  16:9  71.3 percent
Google Pixel 2  5 inches  16:9  67.9 percent
Apple iPhone 8 Plus  5.5 inches  16:9  67.7 percent
Apple iPhone 8  4.7 inches  16:9  65.6 percent