Get more with myNEWS
A personalised news feed of stories that matter to you
Learn more

Slightly curved screens aren’t enough for this Chinese phone maker

Users think Oppo’s extreme ‘waterfall’ curve might just be too much

This article originally appeared on ABACUS

Smartphones with curved display edges have been around for a while. Samsung first introduced the trend in 2014. But Chinese smartphone maker Oppo is no longer satisfied with slightly curved displays. That’s where the “waterfall screen” comes in.

How Oppo became one of the biggest smartphone makers in China

Why waterfall? The new display has an 88-degree curve, making images and videos seem like they are “falling” off the screen.

The phone was showcased by OPPO Vice President Brian Shen on microblogging site Weibo on Monday. The released images show a display that appears to cover about half of the bezel on each side of the phone, seemingly leaving no room for physical buttons on the sides.

The newly unveiled prototype shows Oppo is edging towards a 100% screen-to-body ratio, with only two thin bezels left on the top and bottom.

Oppo’s new prototype with an 88-degree curved display edge (right) versus its little brother, Oppo Find X (left). (Picture: Oppo)

But not everyone is thrilled about the poetically-branded screen. Some Weibo commenters have pointed out that curved screens are not really that functional. Others said the demonstration videos even show how easy it is to accidentally touch the screen.

Some smartphone fans have pointed out that accidental touches are pretty common with a curved screen. (Picture: Oppo)
“Although this kind of screen is good, the problem of accidental touching is not solved, and the practicality needs to be discussed,” said one Weibo user.

Others pointed out that the new phone might need some delicate handling if you’re watching a video. A simple slip of a finger while holding the tiny bezels might ruin the experience.

You’re going to need some slim fingers for this smartphone. (Picture: Oppo)

Oppo isn’t widely known outside of China, but in its home market, the brand has fought its way into becoming the second most popular phone maker after Huawei for the last two years.

In China’s highly-competitive and saturated smartphone market, different brands are constantly looking for ways to one-up each other by offering unique features that allow them to differentiate themselves. Reducing the amount of bezel visible from the front of a phone has been one popular way of achieving that.

At Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Shanghai last month, the Oppo introduced the world’s first under-display camera. (Not to be outdone, Xiaomi demonstrated the same feature just hours later.) This enables the company to avoid notches, punch holes and pop-up cameras for the front-facing camera. However, it still needs some work to achieve that perfect image quality.
Given that this latest phone remains a prototype, it’s possible it also features an under-display camera. There’s no visible front-facing camera in the released images. However, it could also have a pop-up camera like the ones that Oppo has used before and are now common with other Chinese brands, including Oppo’s sister brands Vivo and OnePlus.

OnePlus, the Chinese smartphone startup that made a mark in the West

For more insights into China tech, sign up for our tech newsletters, subscribe to our Inside China Tech podcast, and download the comprehensive 2019 China Internet Report. Also roam China Tech City, an award-winning interactive digital map at our sister site Abacus.