Flashy Notification Lights Need to Make a Comeback

Oppo find 7 notification light. Awesome right?

nokia 5330 xpress music

We live in a world fueled by notifications, or annoyed by them rather. Our smartphones are the most important gadgets in our lives and they receive a ton of notifications from SMS alerts to social media posts alerts and more. However, something has been missing for a while and I’m not happy about it: great notification lights

Smartphones are usually given basic LED notification lights that show your charging status (changing from red to yellow to green for example) or whether you have a missed phone call or text. The tiny notification lights are usually at the top left corner and they are mostly meant to be unobtrusive. Other phones like the iPhone don’t have notification lights at all!

The Past

Nokia 5330 Xpress Music. (via Mobile review)

Nevertheless, we have seen manufacturers putting out great devices that featured impressive multi-coloured notification lights.  The Nokia 5330 Xpress Music for example was released in 2009 and had an impressive multi coloured LED strip around its keypad for notifications. Check out mobile review where they show the various colours it used to display for notifications.

Sony Xperia SP notification light (via CNET)

Smartphones also started offering impressive notification lights like two of my past phones: The Sony Xperia SP and the Xperia Z2. The SP had a notification strip at the bottom that could be customized into various colours and it also pulsated when you played music.

Sony Xperia S notification light strip (via Xperiablog)

The SP notification light was borrowed from its predecessor, the Xperia S, which  unlike the SP, its notification light circumnavigated the phone’s width.The Z2’s notification light was hidden at the earpiece and was multi-coloured like the SP.

Sony Xperia Z2 notification light

Specifically for the Xperia Z2, I bought an app which was used to tailor apps with specific coloured notifications down to the app’s official colours. Facebook got blue, Telegram was almost cyan, WhatsApp was green, Bloomberg was a purplish-blue hue, Instagram was purple, texts were white, missed calls were yellow and Gmail was red. This was incredibly handy since I knew right away what app gave me the latest notification.

Oppo find 7 notification light. Awesome right?

One phone that had an impressive notification light was the Oppo Find 7. It had a sleek notification strip at the bottom that pulsated, giving the illusion that the phone was alive and breathing. It complimented the whole design beautifully and it is sad they haven’t decided to bring back that feature to a recent phone.

The Present

In 2018, flashy notification lights are a rarity. Most smartphones except the iPhone get normal notification lights that are meant to be subtle and the marketing is usually focused on other aspects like their 18:9 displays or dual cameras. Sony and Oppo seemed to have ditched their flashy notification lights for subtle ones and are now in line with the competition in offering standard ones.

efssential phone notification light
via Dave2D on YouTube

There was an exception last year with the introduction of the Essential Phone. This was a phone made by the new company Essential. It has a striking titanium and ceramic body which was praised at all, but interesting enough, some reviewers (MKBHD and Dave2D) actually commented about its notification light, which is located at the earpiece just like the Xperia Z2.


I’d love for flashy notification lights to make a comeback but that is a long shot. In an industry that is obsessed with 18:9 displays, notches, dual cameras and razer thin bezels, clearly the manufacturers and the marketing departments are jumping on the latest trends.

However it only needs a manufacturer with enough clout to make sure that they do make a comeback. Yes I’m talking about Apple, the only company that has never bothered to put a notification light on their iPhones. Yes they do have that feature where you can turn on the LED flash at the back to be used for ‘alerts’ but that does not count.

iPhone X

If they decide to add a notification light (like the one on the Oppo Find 7) on their next and greatest iPhone, the others will definitely follow suit in their own way. Imagine the iPhone X replacement with a top or bottom placed LED strip for notifications, that would be insanely cool. Or they might decide to use the OLED panel and only lit a specific strip at the bottom, only for Samsung fans to remind iPhone users they had that on the Edge series phones since 2000 BC.

So Apple, do your thing, make notification lights great again.


  1. I agree we need notification light on all phones…and they should make them cooler too…not the small,plain light.

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