Over at The Verge (from last month), Nick Slatt thinks Google failed to justify the Pixel 3 XL’s massive notch:
You may hate notches, and I may be preaching to the choir here by complaining about Google’s. But I don’t hate them. In fact, I’m a fan if the trade-off is for some features I enjoy, and I’m completely ambivalent to the existence of screen cutouts from an aesthetic standpoint, up until a certain point. I’ve used an iPhone X since it first came out; I never noticed or really cared about the notch when I first switched, and I still don’t today. I’m using an iPhone XS as I write this. But a notch should, at the very least, serve some purpose. It should have a good reason to be there, and Google didn’t really have a strong one to offer yesterday.
This is really simple. The iPhone X immediately made all pocket computers without edge-to-edge displays look outdated.
That’s all the reason any company needs to make a device with a notch and an edge-to-edge display. After I bought my iPhone X last year, I remember going back to my iPhone 6 Plus and being shocked how weird and outdated the old, rectangular screen looked.
In fact, let’s give credit where it’s due to the first device with a notch and an edge-to-edge display: The Essential Phone. It was announced 4 months before the iPhone X dropped in 2017.
Although the Essential Phone was first-to-market with a notch, it’s unlikely its existence would have put much pressure on Apple if they had released a rectangular-screened iPhone X given the Essential Phone’s shitty sales and subsequent folding.
I don’t think many people outside the geek community even knew of the Essential Phone’s existence.