“How any1 [sic] thinks the NOTCH is ok is beyond me! If this was another company that done [sic] this they would be ripped appart[sic]… I have iPhone and still notice the notch every time I use it.”
This is just one of many notch-related comments I’ve received on my recent 14” MacBook Pro review.
There are two things people get unreasonably angry about within the comments section of YouTube. The first is headphones. Trust me, if you think the platform wars are bad in the Windows vs macOS realm, wait until you inadvertently start a fight with someone who appears to have made it their life’s mission to destroy anyone who likes a pair of Sony headphones.
The second is a new bone of contention – the MacBook Pro notch. Although in the minority, a subsection of my viewers are irreversibly appalled by this absolute abomination of design (I’m toying with their words – but that’s how pissed off they are).
And I have no idea why.
The notch has always been there
Someone else pointed this out, so I can’t lay claim to it (nor can I be bothered to dig out the evidence), but the notch really has always been present on MacBooks.
It was just wider.
If you’re using a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air right now, take a look at the top of the screen. In the centre, just above the screen itself, sits the FaceTime camera. To the left and right resides a blank expanse; a considerable amount of potential screen estate wasted.
All Apple has done with the notch is make it narrower and chuck the menu bar in the resulting space. As a result, we get a bigger screen that practically fills the lid of the new MacBook Pro.
I’ll take that.
There are some issues
It isn’t totally groovy in Notch Land. There are a couple of issues.
Firstly, you can lose your mouse pointer behind the notch. Not for long, admittedly, but I do find it slightly spooky that it just disappears up there. It’s a bit like the dark side of the moon; what happens behind the notch? What does the mouse pointer get up to when you can’t see what it’s doing?
Secondly – and although I’ve not experienced it myself – certain app menus don’t play well with it. And, if you have lots of menu bar widgety things (what are they called?!), they may head perilously into the Dark Side of the Notch, too.
The latter issue isn’t ideal, but I suspect there will be some form of workaround on the horizon, either officially from Apple or by way of utilities such as Bartender.
However, should either of these notch-related teething problems halt your enjoyment of what is an incredible return to form for the MacBook Pro?
Apple doesn’t care (sorry)
Some of the notch-haters suggest that it is “lazy design”. But I really don’t buy that.
Just like camera bumps, Apple sees the notch on both the iPhone and now the MacBook Pro as a necessity – until we reach a point where technology catches up with their ambitions.
We’ve seen smartphones with hole punches (again, a necessary evil if the design team heads in that direction, but entirely un-life-changing), and even a few experiments with cameras that reside beneath the screen itself (always dreadful).
Each manufacturer makes its own choice when it comes to maximising screen estate, maintaining aesthetic appeal, and – here’s the crucial part – differentiating itself.
Apple leans into the notch design, just as they do the huge camera bump on the iPhone 13. It’s as iconic as their white earbuds. Marketers use it throughout campaigns to illustrate smartphones in use – there are even 2D silhouetted iPhones, complete with notches, that are used as generic ‘this is compatible with a smartphone’ badges. The notch is a ‘thing’. Most people have got used to it.
Apple doesn’t care about the notch. They don’t lay awake at night wondering how to get rid of it, what people think about it, or how much they’ve let down not just their customers, but their friends, family, and pet chihuahua, too. They’ve got bigger fish to fry.
Think about the last time you thought about the iPhone notch
Ironically, I despised the notch when it first appeared on the iPhone. I just didn’t get it; how on earth could Apple cut out a section of the screen and expect us to live with it?
Yes, I was a notch hater.
But I never think about it anymore – at all. And yes, that’s even the case when I flip it into landscape orientation and watch video content. I’ve genuinely forgotten that the notch exists, and I suspect it’s the same scenario for the vast majority of iPhone users (if I asked my girlfriend what she thought about the iPhone notch, she’d probably ask what on earth I was talking about).
If you’re unhappy about Apple’s decision to add a notch to the MacBook Pro and own an iPhone with a notch, ask yourself the same question: when did you last think about the notch on the latter? When did it last ruin your day, spoil your mood, or prevent you from enjoying whatever it was you were doing on the phone?
Trust me – give it a month (at the most) and no one will be talking about the MacBook Pro notch anymore. I can’t wait.