The latest Essential Phone update brought us the April security patch and Bluetooth 5.0 certification, but there was another hidden feature that most people don’t know about. In the developer settings you’ll find notch behavior settings.
Essential’s use of the status bar is different than most phones. This section of the display is not able to be used by apps in landscape, as it’s blocked off for system use. This is the reason why there is no “pinch to fill” feature in the YouTube app like there is on most 18:9 phones. That area of the display simply isn’t usable.
However, this new feature allows you to take advantage of it. Setting it to always use the notch area allows apps to take advantage of the full display. On most 16:9 videos on YouTube, this causes the notch to cut into the video a bit but otherwise it looks the same, just centered. Not a great look. Fire up an 18:9 video (Jonathan Morrison films in 18:9 and his video is in the photo above) and you’ll have a full screen experience.
Whether you like this setting in videos is purely preference, but I’d hate to have a notch cut into my video. Nonetheless, it looks pretty awesome and it can easily be switched back anytime without any mods. Plus it can be done on a per app basis!
To access these settings, head to System > Developer options > Essential notch settings. There you’ll find settings for default behavior or per-app behavior. Change them to your hearts content, but remember that they could mess with the functionality of some apps!