A lot has happened since this Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo V with which I made my debut, not only on Android, but also in the world of smartphones. Since then, countless cell phones have passed through my hands. Lots of Androids and, yes, lots of iPhones too. AND Of all the virtues of Android, I only lacked one that wasn’t even software. Not at least basic.
This is the already legendary notification lights. This little light that, usually located at the top of the mobile, helped me/us know if we had any pending notices without unlocking the mobile. Something like the information we can have today with the ‘Always On Display’, but without so much battery consumption. This element not only made its debut on the iPhone, but also little by little it disappeared from Android.
WhatsApp green. orange calls
If you haven’t lived through the days when Android phones with LED notifications abounded, or just can’t remember, I remember could be customized a lot. Almost always.
And it is that, as is the case now with many Android options, it depends a bit on the manufacturer. In some cases we found these options in the settings, other times in the apps in question, and in many other cases we had to download a third-party app. In the most complete, it was wonderful to be able to customize it to the maximum.
i remember how could choose the color for each application, within a limit, of course. White light, orange light, green light, blue light, purple light… Some supported many types of light and as many as they supported, as many could be configured. That of choosing green for WhatsApp was the most obvious, although I have already said that it is not possible on all mobiles.
The main utility offered by this luminous element was to Being able to know if we have received notifications without having to touch the mobile. In fact, he couldn’t even be within arm’s reach and in absolute silence. The LED was visible and seeing it on, we already knew what we had received.
He left in the most painful way: little by little, and without saying goodbye.
The passage of time has brought us improvements in cameras, screens, battery… In everything. However, losing small details like these is not good. Far from exaggerating, it is obvious that it is not an essential element, but it is very useful to continue to find a place for it.
The notification LED left without saying goodbye and, of course, without giving any explanation for leaving. Urban legends say that its removal was mainly due to the optimization of space in the front part of the mobiles and therefore to give more importance to the screen
Nevertheless, I believe that the cost savings. Unfortunately I don’t have any figures on what it might cost the manufacturer to add a small LED like this, but ultimately I understand that any possible savings a company assumes, no matter how small, is welcome. And I also understand that nor are we throwing ourselves at them en masse to demand their return. Although many of us mourn for him privately.
It is not completely dead, but its presence in current mobiles is very weak
The vast majority of Android smartphones today have ignored this feature. In return, they implement similar options with the rear camera flash or rely on it to visually inform it on the always-on screen. Although the most normal thing is that they didn’t even find him a replacement.
Currently only a few manufacturers continue to maintain it and not in all its ranges. One of the last examples we had in the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro, it is precisely the Chinese manufacturer that has continued to bet the most on it, but not continuously and in its most recent smartphones it is absent.
Manufacturers like Nothing, OPPO and Realme are trying to modernize it. And your suggestions are welcome.
Instead, we’ve got something that could be called the modern successor to the notification LED. Forks integrate LEDs on the back of the terminal which accept configurations such as those proposed by LED in its time. One of the first examples was the OPPO Reno 7 Pro incorporating a small strip of LEDs around its rear camera module.
The Nothing Phone (1) seems to have had the biggest impact. Nothing is the first smartphone precisely uses LEDs as a differentiating element occupying the entire rear of the terminal. Something the Unihertz Luna has already imitated, a device that we call one of the rarest smartphones seen at MWC 2023, but whose proposal is also appreciated.
Recent it is also the case of the Realme GT3, the global version of the Chinese Realme GT Neo 5. This device is committed to a small window in the back with RGB lights. Another interesting proposal that may encourage other manufacturers to join this intention to modernize the notification LED.
Of course, that changes one thing from that LED of yesteryear to what we see now. And it is that we can win in design, but lose in comfort. And it is that if you look, the three examples mentioned above fix the lights on the back, so if we usually have the mobile face up on a surface it will not help much.
Cover image | Álvaro García M. with Midjourney
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