What Does Bezel Mean?

A bezel is the frame or the setting of something, and in the context of technology, it is area on the front of a device that surrounds the screen. This term was traditionally used in the jewelry industry, but gradually became common in the technology industry as well.


On a traditional cathode ray television, for example, the glass screen is set in a frame façade with various dials and buttons and controls — this area surrounding the glass is the bezel. However, as technology has progressed, the idea of designing a bezel for a device has changed in some fundamental ways.

Modern smartphones, for example, may or may not have a significant bezel. The ability to hide a frame or setting has contributed to a different idea of device design and consumer technology. Designers may talk about creating “slim bezels” or even of a “non-bezel” or “bezel-less” design in engineering new devices.

To be precise, the term “bezel-less” usually just means having less of a bezel than the models that came before it. Having no bezel at all is impractical for many devices. However, television screens and smartphones are being made with very little front-facing frame, in an interesting evolution that might someday be reversed by style or utility preferences.

It is interesting to note that a small-bezel trend, complemented by other changes like doing away with traditional audio jacks, are further miniaturizing and transforming smartphones into powerful microcomputers unrecognizable by traditional standards. Bezel design changes can also spur other questions, for example, whether future designs can do away with the remaining “bezel chin” under a smartphone screen.

Techopedia Explains Bezel

The bezel was not something that was typically talked about in the technology industry until fairly recently.

The word started to become applied to technology as Moore’s law progressed. Moore’s law holds that one can double the number of transistors on an integrated circuit each year. As designers and engineers found this process to be feasible, devices became much smaller. Everything from televisions and phones to enterprise equipment and cameras shrank until they hardly resembled the bulky models of years past. Part of that involved rethinking the bezel and the role it plays in the device build.

In terms of design, a bezel has pros and cons. One of the most important reasons to add a bezel to a product is for physical protection. A screen with no bezel seems abundantly easy to damage or fracture by dropping, which is why modern smartphone users so often invest in auxiliary gear like hard plastic cases or shields.

A bezel is also a place to install key controls for a device. On some devices, this is important because the user wants to be able to see the controls on the face of the device, and not hunt for them on the sides or back. To the extent that controls are increasingly built into the touch screen, though, smartphone makers can do away with bezel controls almost entirely.

On the other hand, a bezel takes away screen space, which is one reason why bezels are very much minimized on modern smartphones. Also, bezel-less design can make products look new and modern. A minimized bezel is often an accompaniment to the tiny cameras, brilliant touchscreens and other utilities of new smartphones.

In some ways, the minimization of the bezel is a sign of a broader change in user interface. Those who look to the future of the wearable device posit a technology that can be used by being projected onto the skin, or entirely by voice command. These further innovations are practically based on the idea that physical parts of a device can be replaced and done away with.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.