iPhone 14 Pro notch-free design just teased in new leak

iphone 14 pro render
(Image credit: Front Page Tech / Ian Zelbo)

Update: The new notch design seems to be a lock based on these leaked iPhone 14 images.

With just over a month to go until the iPhone 14's expected launch, we’re at the point where rumors starting looking like surefire things thanks to the sheer weight of leaks. And based on the latest one from Ice Universe (opens in new tab), the notch really will be a thing of the past for the iPhone 14 Pro.

The notch has been a fixture of Apple’s iPhone lineup since 2017’s iPhone X arrived on the scene, and it’s slowly become a calling card for high-end Apple devices. All iPhones bar the SE models have it now, it’s started to appear on MacBooks and even the next iPad Pro is rumored to have one.

But despite debuting on 2017’s flagship iPhone, it seems that the top-end 2022 models will be the first to do away with it. Rumors have circled that the iPhone 14 Pro would ditch the notch back to before the iPhone 13 even appeared, but they’ve solidified since and the consensus is that it’ll be replaced with two cutouts: a pin-hole camera cutout, and a pill-shaped area to house all the clever Face ID tech

Now Ice Universe — a tipster who's got a pretty good record on these things — has shared what looks like an image of a screen protector (opens in new tab) designed for the iPhone 14 Pro, cutouts and all.

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These cutouts looks pretty familiar now, but it’s still strange to see them in screen protector form: two cutouts to allow the camera setup to function. They're pretty large (though will presumably appear slightly smaller on iPhone 14 Pro Max due to scale) and could actually prove more divisive than the notch, which at least has familiarity on its side at this point.

Worse than the notch?

iphone 14 pro render

(Image credit: Front Page Tech / Ian Zelbo)

In fact, the new-look pill and hole-punch is considerably more distracting than high-end Android handsets’ solutions. Part of that is beyond Apple’s control — Android devices don’t have to make room for the complicated FaceID technology, so can generally get away with a single hole-punch circle to house the camera. 

But it’s also true to say that Android handset makers have explored some truly innovative ways of hiding the front-facing lens, too. Manufacturers have experimented with placing cameras in complicated pop-up mechanisms inside phones, or even hiding them in plain sight underneath the screens.

But both of these approaches have their drawbacks. Pop-up mechanisms not only include an extra mechanical element to break or fill with dust, but tend to add weight to handsets. Under-screen cameras, meanwhile — like the selfie camera found on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3’s internal panel — suffer when it comes to picture quality.

It would be astonishing if Apple hadn’t considered such approaches, knowing the unpopularity of the notch, but the company is also aware that its branding is so strong that it can, to an extent, shape what’s fashionable. The notch was, after all, mimicked by other high-end phone makers in the wake of the iPhone X, and AirPodsonce dismissed as too weird looking to catch on (opens in new tab) — are now ubiquitous and much imitated.

As the pill and hole-punch layout is supposed to be unique to the iPhone 14 Pro, it too may become iconic in its own way — even if in practical and aesthetic terms, it’s less appealing than other options on the table. 

We'll hopefully see it for ourselves before too long, with mid-September looking like the most likely date for Apple's next event. Keep up with all the latest in our full iPhone 14 rumor hub.

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.