Apple’s Dynamic Island: Form Over Function?Reading Time: 5 minutes
Now that we’re past the honeymoon phase, does the iPhone’s Dynamic Island offer something valuable? Or, was it Apple’s clever trick to hide the notch?
When Apple debuted the iPhone 14 Pro in 2022, one big thing stuck out during its presentation: Dynamic Island. After years of the notch, Apple moved the front camera and Face ID module into a large pill-shaped cutout near the top of the display.
But the iPhone’s Dynamic Island is much more than just a sensor housing. Apple has used iOS to turn it into an area you can interact with to see notifications, control your music, and much more. But is Apple’s Dynamic Island really the next big thing, or is it more style over substance?
It’s the Biggest Change to the Notch in Years
We first got introduced to the notch way back in 2017 with the announcement of the iPhone X, and since then, the notch has become a staple on the iPhone. It has even made its way to the MacBook. But even years after the iPhone X’s release, the notch has stayed remarkably the same.
It wasn’t until the announcement of the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max that Apple showed us what its vision of a next-generation iPhone would look like. At the center of this new iPhone experience is the Dynamic Island.
But Apple hasn’t fully replaced the traditional notch. The base iPhone 14 still has a notch, and it’s unclear whether the company will eventually bring the Dynamic Island to all iPhones or whether it will remain a premium feature.
We’ve gotten to know and even maybe love the notch. But the notch had to go eventually, at least on the Pro model.
How Dynamic Island Affects Notifications
Even though Apple’s marketing for the iPhone 14 Pro seems to be all about the Dynamic Island, you might be surprised to learn that most apps don’t use the Dynamic Island at all.
Sometimes you will see the Dynamic Island play a bigger role in your daily life when you get a phone call or incoming FaceTime. It will adapt its shape and grow to display your incoming call. Pretty cool, right? However, most of your notifications, like emails, alerts from social media, and even built-in apps like Messages, skip the feature completely.
We’re pretty used to how notifications work on iOS. And even on the iPhone 14 Pro with Dynamic Island, most of your notifications slide in from the top, just like they have for years now. That has led some people to wonder whether the Dynamic Island is worth the extra cost.
Dynamic Island and Multitasking
The iPhone has been able to run full apps in the background for a while. But unlike Android, which lets you see multiple apps on-screen simultaneously, iOS still has no split-screen multitasking features. That means you can only interact with one app at a time, no matter how many apps you’ve got running in the background.
However, with Dynamic Island, a few select apps can stay on screen while you’re doing something else. For example, you can do things like activate a timer and keep an eye on it while you’re browsing social media. You can see album artwork from Apple Music and quickly access your media controls on the fly. Also, you can keep track of upcoming directions from Apple Maps.
Although the Dynamic Island only integrates with a few apps, for now, we could see Apple add more features in the future.
There’s no question that the iPhone 14 Pro’s Dynamic Island is at its best when it comes to multitasking. And although the Dynamic Island certainly isn’t reinventing the iPhone experience, it does give the iPhone more functionality than ever.
Dynamic Island Actually Takes Up More of Your Screen
One of the biggest issues people have with smartphone notches is that they cut into your screen real estate. Some people find notches distracting, especially when watching movies or playing games in landscape mode.
To combat this, Android manufacturers have explored tons of different solutions. We’ve seen devices with camera cutouts and camera pills, and there was even a time when pop-out selfie cameras were a thing. Either way, the goal was simple: create an all-screen device, or get as close as possible.
But Apple’s Dynamic Island is, well, different. Not only is the Dynamic Island much bigger than the camera cutouts on most flagship Android phones, but it sits lower on the iPhone’s display. That means, compared to the notch, the iPhone 14 Pro’s Dynamic Island is actually much more noticeable.
So, while you could hide the notch with a clever background or a smart app design, Apple’s Dynamic Island cutout is always-present and very in-your-face.
People’s reactions to Dynamic Island have been a mixed bag. In fact, people have been putting Dynamic Islands on their Android phones. But if you found the notch distracting, you’re not going to enjoy using a device with the Dynamic Island at all.
Will We See Dynamic Island on More Apple Devices?
Apple is branding Dynamic Island as the next big thing for the iPhone, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be a staple on all of Apple’s devices. The iPhone is Apple’s biggest product by far, and every year, Apple delivers design changes to convince you to upgrade. But when it comes to the rest of Apple’s product lines, they get major updates much less often.
We first saw a MacBook Pro with a notch in 2021, but that was the first time MacBook Pro got a full redesign in five years. It could be just as long before we get another full redesign. And some people were convinced that the M2 iPad Pro would be reworked with a Dynamic Island. Instead, Apple delivered an internal spec bump only.
Even the revamped 10th-generation iPad, which got a landscape-oriented front camera in 2022, wasn’t updated with the Dynamic Island. So, while we may see a MacBook or iPad with the Dynamic Island at some point down the line, don’t expect it any time soon.
Dynamic Island Doesn’t Change the Overall iPhone Experience
Dynamic Island has many features, and it’s the biggest change to the iPhone in years. But it’s not as big an upgrade as Apple wants you to think.
There’s no question it’s convenient to use the Dynamic Island to keep things like timers, music, and navigation on the screen. But keep in mind that all of this info has never been far out of reach on iOS. If you’re in an active call or using navigation, iOS already gives you a shortcut back to the full app at the top of your screen, whether your iPhone has the Dynamic Island or not.
If you’re listening to music and want to change songs, media controls are already available in the Control Center, which you can access any time with a simple swipe down. And unlike Dynamic Island, Control Center is completely customizable. That means getting quick access to the apps and functions you use most often.
Dynamic Island does certain things differently, without a doubt, but it’s not doing much you couldn’t already do with an iPhone.
It’s Probably Not Worth Upgrading Just for Dynamic Island
At the end of the day, Apple’s Dynamic Island design often feels like a sidestep more than a giant leap forward. It does make some small changes to how notifications work on the iPhone, but most alerts still work the same way they always have.
And even though its addition is convenient for multitasking, it’s hardly worth buying a new iPhone just for it alone. Of course, the Dynamic Island is undoubtedly different and makes the iPhone look fresh, but it will probably not change how you use it.