iPhone 16 Pro punch-hole camera cutout is still possible but 2025 is more likely

Ever since the iPhone X in 2017, Apple has stayed faithful to the notch despite numerous criticisms. Last year, however, it finally changed direction for the first time while still staying away from the dominant “punch-hole camera” design of most smartphones today. The Dynamic Island, which is unsurprisingly now being copied by other brands, presented a unique and interesting way to hide the presence of front sensors like the Face ID camera while still making that area usable and, well, dynamic. There are, however, whispers that Apple will soon go all-in on the prevalent design trend and will implement its first punch-hole design on the iPhone 16 Pro next year, though chances of that happening in 2025 might be a bit more realistic.

Designer: Apple (via Majin Bu)

Although the smartphone industry seems to have settled on what is described as punch-hole or hole-punch cutouts, the debates have never really stopped on what is the better design. The old iPhone notch, in addition to being seen as stale, also took up too much precious screen real estate that could otherwise be used to display things. The smaller circle does minimize the footprint but still leaves a lot of room for improvement in terms of elegance and functionality. The Dynamic Island introduced last year is Apple’s creative and ingenious solution to combine the best of both worlds, but it seems that even design-conscious isn’t done changing things.

According to rumors, Apple is already testing a punch-hole design that could make its way as early as next year’s iPhone 16 Pro. The insider tip even shows a render with a rather large hole at the top of an iPhone’s display. The cutout is noticeably larger than most punch-holes on Android phones that have been trying to make that design less conspicuous. There’s a good reason for that, which is the same reason Apple couldn’t completely abandon the notch and why it created the Dynamic Island design. Face ID hardware is more than just a simple front-facing camera, and Apple will need to make room for those sensors in such a constrained space.

Even if Apple does change to a punch-hole camera design, expect it to be unlike what you see on Android phones so far. We could see a redesigned Dynamic Island implemented for this kind of cutout that takes advantage of the smaller space. Or we could see Apple completely revise iOS 18 to have a different interface now that there’s more room for icons and whatnot up there.

That said, even the tipster admits that there is a bigger chance that this design change will happen with the iPhone 17 series in 2025 instead. All that depends on what the company decides in March next year when it finally decides on the iPhone 16 design. Truth be told, there is very little reason for Apple to make another change so soon, with Dynamic Island still in its infancy. After all, Apple isn’t one to simply jump on trends, so it might be a while before we see it changing its direction again.

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This keyboard comes with its own ‘Dynamic Island’ and electronic ink keys that change languages

The Gauge keyboard was designed two full years before the iPhone got the Dynamic Island, but conceptually it shows how a well-placed screen can make a pretty sizeable difference to a product’s UI, offering up much more function than the ‘Touch Bar’ Apple put on their MacBooks.

Designed as a truly global keyboard, the Gauge was envisioned as a gadget that enables typing while breaking boundaries of language, culture, and linguistic biases. The keyboard itself comes with electronic ink displays in each key, allowing the entire board’s layout and language to change with a simple adjustment in the settings. You can swap to another language, change to an emoji keyboard, or even add layouts of your own depending on the software or game you’re currently in. The electronic ink keys are supported by that dynamic island on the top right that lets you access keyboard functions, desktop shortcuts, and get notifications on your keyboard at a glance, eliminating the need to look at your phone or watch.

Designer: Designer Dot

The keyboard is centered around universality, with keys that adapt and adjust to make everyone feel welcome. “In the modern society where various languages are used in one region, conventional keyboards consisting only of specific languages are difficult for a third-language user to use, making them feel discriminated,” says Designer Dot, the creator behind the keyboard concept. The keyboard’s display-based key system is a clever way to help it change layouts on command. Electronic ink offers a high contrast while consuming hardly any power… although it would be impossible to add a backlight to this keyboard.

In all honesty, Gauge’s display is really a static island with a dynamic interior. The island doesn’t change in shape or size like it does on the iPhone 14 Pro, but it itself is dynamic. It functions as a touch bar, widget, and notification center all at once, giving you a secondary screen to look at when your main screen is busy with information. The dynamic island can function as a touch bar, letting you access an app tray, or can even help display information like alerts, weather updates, or other information like flight information as shown in the GIF above.

The rest of the keyboard’s design feels fairly standard. It’s tilted at a slight angle, offering ergonomic support, while the keys themselves sit within a silicone enclosure that helps dampen the noise created while typing. The keyboard also has silicone feet that keep it from slipping around, and a USB-C on the back helps charge the device, which otherwise is designed to be entirely wireless.

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Apple spent 3 full minutes talking about THIS feature on the new iPhone 14 Pro…

Dubbed the ‘Dynamic Island’, this new hardware feature has some incredible UI/UX potential. With the notch gone, Apple has arrived at a more meaningful ‘pill-shaped’ camera cutout called the Dynamic Island… and it isn’t just a camera cutout, it’s an interactive part of the OS, offering a unique way to experience notifications, multitasking, and background apps. The notch walked, so the Dynamic Island could run.

Of the 22 minutes devoted to the iPhone 14 Pro, VP of Human Interface Design Alan Dye spent 3 full minutes just talking about the pill, or what the company likes to officially call the ‘Dynamic Island’. For reference, that’s more time than they spent talking about their new A16 Bionic chip (which clocked in at around 2 and a half minutes). Heck, the Dynamic Island even got its own separate video on Apple’s YouTube page, showing exactly how important it is for the company and how integral it is to the iPhone’s experience moving forward.

For years, phone companies have tried to hide their notches and camera hole punches using clever tricks and illusions. Apple itself stands conveniently guilty of using dark stock wallpapers to make the notch disappear on phone adverts, and Android companies even designed wallpapers that rather cunningly camouflaged the hole punch camera cutout. I don’t think there’s anyone who thinks that the pill is a step back from the notch. Pretty much everyone agrees that the Dynamic Island is progress – to what degree is something that’s debatable.

There are two schools of thought regarding the island and its dynamism. There’s one group of people who think it’s Apple making the best of a bad situation, and then there’s the other group that I’m a strong, vocal member of – that instead of ignoring or hiding behind the cutout, Apple’s found a way to celebrate it in a manner that feels refreshing and truly inspired. The Dynamic Island isn’t just a front-facing camera cutout anymore. It isn’t an area that resembles the lack of a display. It’s its own interaction element that forms the practical backbone of the OS. Apple’s basically created a new button. A button that serves as a dynamic notification bar, as a means to access and view important information, switch between active apps, and multitask seamlessly. It almost seems like a secondary feature that this button also clicks selfies and scans your face to unlock your phone. The name ‘Dynamic Island’ is incredibly corny (even Marques Brownlee thinks so), but heck, it describes the pill’s shape and purpose perfectly. Apple has a strong ethos of doing something brilliantly or not doing it at all – it’s why they still haven’t made a calculator app for the iPad, and why they waited four long years to ditch the notch. In parlance that youngsters would understand, it’s either a hell yes, or a hell no.

The Dynamic Island relies on the iPhone 14’s OLED screen, which has the ability to switch off individual pixels, causing them to turn pitch black. This is what drives the island’s shapeshifting effect, causing it to magically expand and contract in different ways and forms. The execution, at least from what Apple showed us, is flawless. The island stores background apps, giving you hints of context regarding information that may be important – like the music you’re listening to, charging stats, how far your Lyft is, and whether your phone’s on silent. Unlike with the MacBook Air’s new notch that sometimes ends up obscuring menu buttons and bits of text, Apple’s presentation of the Dynamic Island perfectly hides the cameras and sensors in plain sight. Digital elements don’t get blocked out by the camera, which means you don’t even notice the camera is there. The Dynamic Island is an evolved version of Apple’s iconic home button – but placed on top.

That being said, there’s one small problem with the Dynamic Island. No, it isn’t the fact that it still overlaps on top of videos on YouTube. It’s, in fact, the island’s placement. Located right at the top of your phone’s screen, the island is difficult to reach with your thumb. Quite like Apple’s unfortunately placed ‘back’ button, users with average-sized hands will have a degree of difficulty tapping on notifications and accessing other apps in single-hand usage. Given that this zone is now the de-facto hotspot for all app-related activity, the island is easy to view, but will require your non-phone-holding hand during interaction. Is that a deal-breaker, though? Not even close. Apple’s managed to pull off something remarkable here, and one could argue that it’ll probably set the standard for other phones moving forward, because the pill absolutely has everyone talking… talking for more than just 3 minutes!

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