With Pixel 4, Google tries to out-ugly Apple

It isn't so long ago that Apple's notch was causing conniptions in tasteful places. But have you seen the bizarre bezel on Google's latest phone?

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How big is that bezel?

Image: Google

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Many phone buyers used to care about beauty.

Well, taste at least.

They would (less than) subtly parade their phones by casually placing them on bars or just pulling them out of their pockets or purses for no reason whatsoever.

Their phones were a statement, one that their own personas could never quite make.

Then it all changed.

The first step toward aesthetic purgatory was the phone case.

It was as if the designers of the Segway and the Birkenstock shoe got together and decided "let's make the world uglier than even we could have imagined."

Next came Apple's descent into design despair.

Not only did iPhones begin to look dispiritingly like the previous models, but Cupertino suddenly introduced the iPhone X notch.

This was like a beauty spot designed by the most miserable of Macbeth's three witches. It was like a GoPro camera attached to a swan's head.

Apple knew this wasn't a good look. In its marketing, it tried to hide the notch as if it was the mad uncle at Thanksgiving.

Soon, though, ugly became normal. Android manufacturers desperately cloned the notch because if Apple does it, it must be what people want.

I fear, though, that things have now gone too far.

Since Google emitted images of its new Pixel 4, it's felt like the art teacher didn't come to school and the kids are daubing ill-spelled graffiti on the walls of the classroom.

You thought we were heading for all-screen phones? Lord, no. Have you seen the bezel on that Pixel?

It's thicker than the head of an average congressperson. It's more prominent than a toucan's nose.

You'll tell me it contains all sorts of vital cameras and sensors because we'll never be complete unless we can shoot better selfies and wave at our phones instead of touching them.

You'll tell me we're all desperate for our phones to recognize us even when the phone is upside down. Or, perhaps, we are.

This is our new, so-called smart world.

But this besmirchment of style is as if someone walked up to Jony Ive at a party and stuck their used cocktail stick into his polo shirt, right next to his nipple.

It's an admission that the functionality of a phone is now far more important than it looks. 

The rationalists have won. The stylists can take their pristine palettes and perfectly-rounded corners and go home.

Style has gone out of style.