Google declares Android phones can have two notches at most

A smartphone with a list of notch options on its display

Given the explosive growth of the notch, it's no surprise to see some major industry players express an interest in reigning in the trend.

Since Essential rolled out their PH-1 with a notched display past year, rivals have followed suit by adopting display cutouts to maximise the real estate of the screen. "This means that: You won't see multiple cutouts on a single edge, or more than two cutouts on a device". Basically, it's the new Coke of Android screens.

Specifically, Google is limiting the number of notches - or "cutouts", as they're technically called - to two. Similar to all the existing smartphones with notches, Android P will also require developers to use the space around the cutout for displaying status bar information only in normal mode - the status bar should be as broad as the notch. Google states that "the app's window is allowed to extend into the cutout area if the cutout is fully contained within a system bar". It's also worth noting that this limit won't actually stop some "renegade" brands from building phones with three or more notches, considering the open-source nature of the Android platform. The other is that the entire cutout area must be letterboxed in fullscreen or landscape mode.

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In a Monday blog post advising Android developers how to deal with this new and questionable design choice, Google declared that two notches are the limit. Smartphone makers could go that way in the future, leading to smartphones that are filled with entirely unnecessary notches. Each one can be placed on the short edge of a device. That means Google is envisioning a world where phones have notches at the top and bottom of the screen, as well as models where the notch is annoyingly off-center. The final version of Android P is supposed to be out soon, of course, so points to Google for at least looking down the road and trying to get a little ahead of the game.

The guidelines have also thrown up a few rules for Android OEMs. Because as they say, there's no accounting for taste.