The “not really bezel-less” wars: iPhone X vs Samsung Galaxy S8 vs Essential

There are 3 big phones on the market that are making a splash this year for having “bezel-less” screens. I will get out of the way that none of these are actually bezel-less, and we need to stop being so willy-nilly in handing out that label. Today we’re going to look at these 3 phones’ bezels and see where each one wins and fails.

The first thing to take a look at is the screen to body ratio. As I said above, none of these are bezel-less, and the bezels still take up a sizable part of the faces of these phones. Here’s how they shake out:

The percentages in that image refer to what percentage of the front of the phone is occupied by the screen. The numbers are taken from GSMArena. The Essential phone takes the cake here, and to put these in context, the iPhone 8 comes in at 65.4% and the Pixel is 69%, so these 80%+ numbers are pretty damn impressive.

My next set of numbers are very “back of the napkin,” as these numbers don’t seem to be public, but based on the highest resolution images of each phone I could find, here are my measurements of the top, bottom, and side bezels.

Top:

  • iPhone X: 9.2mm (4.3mm w/o notch)
  • Galaxy S8: 8.4mm
  • Essential: 9.3mm (2.2mm w/o notch)

Bottom:

  • iPhone X: 4.3mm
  • Galaxy S8: 7.5mm
  • Essential: 9.5mm

Side:

  • iPhone X: 4.3mm
  • Galaxy S8: 1.5mm
  • Essential: 2.0mm

Because no comparison can just be simple, I don’t quite know how to score this. The iPhone has the best bottom bezel by far, at basically half the size of the other two phones, and the Galaxy S8 has the best side bezels, with the iPhone X having the largest by far. The top is where things get tricky.

The iPhone and Essential phones have smaller top bezels than the Galaxy, but they also have notches to fit their cameras. The Galaxy S8 either has the smallest bezel if you go with the bezels, but the iPhone and Essential phones get more screen up there, and are far smaller at their smallest points. Basically, the Essential phone wins if you are fine with notches and the Galaxy S8 wins if you can’t stand notches.

Another metric that is interesting, if possibly unimportant, is the variation in bezel size around the screen. If we omit the notches, here is the variation in bezels from smallest to largest on each phone:

  • iPhone X: 0%
  • Galaxy S8: 560%
  • Essential: 475%

The Essential phone has a large bottom bezel, the Galaxy has tiny sides and a larger top, and the iPhone is uniform around the entire thing. Now of course the notches make this metric a little fizzy, but it’s interesting to look at where each company decided to make sacrifices.


At the end of the day we are all winners, frankly. No matter what you want in the small-bezeled phone, you can get it. iOS fans can get an iPhone X, Android purists can get an Essential, and everyone else can get a Galaxy S8, and all of us will most likely be happy (minus the Essentially, apparently lackluster camera). Phones are making their first big changes in form factor in many years, so I’m excited to see what phones from these same companies (and those still unknown, hopefully) look like in 5 years time.