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Stop Trying To Hide The Damn iPhone X Notch

Let it go. Here’s why, according to psychology.

Stop Trying To Hide The Damn iPhone X Notch

If the latest Apple rumors are true, 2018’s iPhones are going to be–in the words of one prominent tech columnist–“friggin’ gigantic.” Also, the notch will still be there.

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Many people are still bent out of shape about the iPhone X’s signature design element, seeking endless workarounds to avoid what they consider a traumatizing eyesore. The latest one I’ve seen is Notchless.space, a very handsome gallery of wallpapers that merge the notch with a strip of black, making it disappear into the phone’s top bezel. It claims some designery bona fides, too: “We put careful consideration into the status bar height and corner radius to create an unobtrusive and optimized composition,” write creators Christian Miller and Boris Crowther. They even offer free Photoshop and Sketch templates to make your own–a nice touch.

Of course, every time you actually open an app, the wallpaper will disappear and the notch will pop back into existence. And then it will disappear when you go back to the home screen . . . and then pop back again. Isn’t that flip-flopping worse than constantly looking at the damn thing?

That depends on your temperament. But if you really can’t stand that notch, basic psychology suggests taking the opposite approach: making sure you see the notch as consistently as possible.

According to a well-known quirk of our minds called the “mere exposure effect,” simply becoming more familiar with something will cause you to develop a preference for it. This is how parents can get their picky toddlers to tolerate vegetables. It’s also a classic brute-force tactic in advertising. Who cares if you found that Totino’s commercial irritating the first 10 times you saw it? It’s only a matter of time. (Technically, continued exposure may just make you feel neutral about the stimulus. But that’s still better than loathing it!)

This isn’t an excuse for pushing poor product design, of course. But it is worth taking into account whenever some new feature or design element appears and sends everyone into a tizzy. Remember those new logos for Airbnb or Instagram that you probably totally hated at first? You probably don’t bat an eye now. You may even like them.

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But even if not, here’s the thing: The mere exposure effect is A Thing. And if you care about getting over your notch-hate sooner rather than later, inconsistently masking it with software is probably just going to prolong your agony. Better to just let it be. Six months from now, your mind will probably thank you.

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About the author

John Pavlus is a writer and filmmaker focusing on science, tech, and design topics. His writing has appeared in Wired, New York, Scientific American, Technology Review, BBC Future, and other outlets.

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