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A look back at when Samsung copied every single thing about the iPhone

iPhone Vs Android

It’s now been more than five years since Apple first slapped Samsung with a series of patent infringement lawsuits for copying the overall look and feel of the iPhone. With Steve Jobs famously declaring that he was “willing to go thermonuclear” in the battle against Android, it’s no surprise that Apple’s patent suit with Samsung stretched across all corners of the globe and involved lawsuits in as many as 12 different countries.

Incredibly, the epic legal battle between Apple and Samsung continues to rage on. Of course, the dispute now doesn’t center on infringement, but rather on how much Samsung needs to pay Apple for previous instances of infringement. A few weeks back, the United States Supreme Court threw out a previous judgement that would have seen Samsung pay Apple $548 million in damages. While Samsung is still on the hook for $149 million, the remaining $399 million balance has been wiped out and will be recalculated in the lower courts.

One of the more interesting aspects of Apple’s ambitious patent suit against Samsung is that it gave us an unprecedented peek behind the curtains of Apple’s development process. Not only did we learn quite a bit about how the iPhone was developed, we also were granted access to fascinating iPhone prototypes, compelling deposition testimony from top Apple executives and much more.

At the same time, we also learned quite a bit about the lengths to which Samsung went to copy every single aspect of the iPhone user experience. How crazy was it? An internal document was brought to light during the trial that was nothing short of a 132-page manual teaching Samsung engineers how to copy the iPhone pixel by pixel.

So while we can argue endlessly about the merits of design patents and whether or not something like rounded corners on a tablet should warrant patent protection, it’s easy to forget that Samsung, in the wake of the iPhone becoming a global phenomenon, went into full panic mode and decided to rip off Apple’s iconic product through and through.

In light of the aforementioned Supreme Court’s recent ruling, and in light of Nokia acting like its 2009 and suing Apple once again for patent infringement, I was reminded of some of the more offending pieces of evidence that emerged during Apple’s first trial with Samsung back in 2012. In particular, one internal Samsung presentation from 2010 provided a step-by-step process for Samsung engineers to follow in an effort to steal so much of what made the iPhone such a unique product.

While a few of these slides have been seen before, some might be new to you. Of course, both iOS and Samsung’s flavor of Android have evolved and changed quite a bit from the time this presentation was put together, but it still represents a fascinating piece of smartphone history that also helps explain why Apple was so intent on throwing the full weight of its legal might at Samsung.

What’s also incredible, as you look over these representative slides, is that it demonstrates just how much attention Apple paid to the iOS user experience from the very beginning. For larger images, you can click here.

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You can check out the full 132-page document right here.

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.