Notch Your Average Devices: iPhone cloners make Apple a trendsetter

by Uluroo — 4 March 2018

In case you haven't been around for the past eleven years or so, Uluroo has some astounding news for you — news that has only been reaffirmed by the recent events of Mobile World Congress 2018. Sit down, empty your mouth of any fluids or food, and take a deep breath...

It looks like Android manufacturers are obsessed with copying Apple.

Let's start with the usual suspect: Samsung. Hardware-wise, Samsung has been quite original as far as its smartphones' designs. Uluroo personally dislikes the Galaxy S8 and S9's curved screens and fingerprint sensor placement (the S9 is improved, but any rear-mounted sensor is distasteful to Uluroo), but the S8 received solid reviews and the S9 seems to be a worthy upgrade.

The thing Samsung did to rip off Apple was a software feature: AR Emoji. As soon as they were spotted, AR Emoji were branded a clone of Apple's Animoji, but that may not be entirely the case. Samsung claims it was working on AR Emoji for years, which may be the case. So let's just say that AR Emoji were not inspired by the concept of Animoji. What Uluroo would have you do is compare the quality of each of the animated emoji systems. AR Emoji have laggy, choppy animation; terrible skin tone detection; and general unrealism (of course it should look cartoony, but it should still actually look like you).

Uluroo isn't knocking the concept of an animated version of the user, but it seems poorly executed on Samsung's part. Which brings us back to the question of whether Samsung is ripping Apple off. The answer is no. Samsung did not get the concept from Apple. But what Uluroo thinks may have happened is that AR Emoji were not originally planned for release on the Galaxy S9. When Samsung saw the iPhone X, they rushed it through the development process, and the result was a half-baked, lower-quality product than it could have been.

Animoji weren't the only thing it looked like Apple would have to file copyright lawsuits over; the infamous notch was getting a lot of love from Android manufacturers. Quite a few companies decided to try their hands at the iPhone clone factory, and the results were... well, just read the linked article for more about those. Chinese company Leagoo must have begun development on their new S9 immediately upon seeing the iPhone X, because the phone appears so rushed to market that even its status bar isn't modified to accomodate the notch. The iLA X has an appalling white notch, but even more cringe-inducingly, its notch is surrounded with black, unused screen space that even continues below the notch. The status bar isn't even in the "ears." It's a complete waste, one that reduces the screen size.

When Uluroo first responded to an article bashing the rumored design of the iPhone X in late summer of last year, he tooooooootally underestimated just how big of a design trend this would be. He also underestimated how companies that ripped off the iPhone X design would then claim that their ripoff phones' designs were somehow better.

Enter Asus. You may, like Uluroo, not have known that Asus actually made smartphones prior to reading about their new Zenfone 5. This clone is littered with Apple DNA that has been twisted to be lower-quality. For example, Asus copied the placement and orientation of the iPhone X's camera module — except for the flash. The flash on Asus's phone is grossly placed below the dual cameras, while the iPhone X's flash is between the camera lenses to appear symmetrical. This may seem a small detail, but it stuck out to Uluroo like a sore thumb, and the only reason Uluroo can see for Asus to have done it is to make it look a bit less like the iPhone X.

On its front, the Zenfone 5 has (guess what?) a notch! Except this notch is 26% smaller than the one on the iPhone X! Hurrah!

Slow down, imaginary chipper Asus executive. Let's take 1.3 seconds to think about why the iPhone X's notch exists. It's to power Face ID. Does the Zenfone 5 have any advanced sensors in its notch? No, it has fewer sensors, which logically will take up less space on the screen. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Zenfone 5's notch is disgusting — it has far too gentle a slope into and out of the shape. Asus brags that the Zenfone 5 has a 90% screen-to-body ratio compared to the iPhone X's 86%. Uluroo is curious to know how they calculated that, because these numbers from GSMArena show that the iPhone X comes in at an 82% screen-to-body ratio. What's more, PhoneArena says the Zenfone 5 has an 84% screen-to-body ratio. Was Asus rounding to the nearest ten that would make them look better than Apple?

At the other end of its screen, the Zenfone 5 has a very noticeable bottom bezel. As a whole, the phone looks asymmetrical. Why have a notch when you could split the sizeable bezel space you actually have between a forehead and chin and still preserve the same screen-body ratio? The chin defeats the purpose of the notch.

If you're unsure whether Asus is completely ripping Apple off here, just ask yourself the question of whether the Zenfone 5 would exist if the iPhone X did not exist. Uluroo thinks the answer is no. The Zenfone 5, among others, is a shameless ripoff of the iPhone X that doesn't bother to achieve the same vision as its inspiration. The whole point of a notch is that it's the last resort after you've removed the other bezels. Asus didn't do that; it decided to do what Apple did simply because Apple did it.

An Asus executive says that because the Essential Phone had the first notch, people can accuse Asus of copying Essential, "But the iPhone was not the first notch." If Asus really isn't copying Apple, why did they create the Zenfone 5 after Apple's notched device? Why did they compare their phone to the iPhone X in their presentation? Why did they not ship this Apple knockoff right after the Essential Phone shipped? It's because it's an Apple knockoff.

A lot of people claim that Apple no longer innovates. It's hard to say that when the competition makes Apple the smartphone trendsetter. If the iPhone weren't so iconic and well-designed, nobody would be copying it. But when everyone does the exact same thing as you, you may want to consider the possibility you're doing something right.