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Android is going all in on copying an iPhone feature that might disappear next year

Published Apr 18th, 2018 9:52AM EDT
iPhone X Plus Vs. Android P
Image: Zach Epstein, BGR

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Apple’s iPhone X features what is arguably the most stunning design we’ve ever seen on a smartphone, so it makes sense that Android vendors would want to copy it. As beautiful as it is, however, we don’t think anyone expected rival smartphone makers to rip off the iPhone X’s design to the extent that they have. Almost every single Android phone company in the world either has stolen Apple’s design or is in the process of stealing it. That includes everything from tiny no-name Chinese phone brands to some of the biggest names in the industry, like Huawei and LG. In fact, only one major smartphone player hasn’t copied the iPhone X at this point — Samsung — but a new revelation on Tuesday proved that the South Korean company is indeed at least considering an iPhone X clone of its own. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, of course, since Samsung literally wrote the book on copying Apple’s iPhone designs.

Apple wasn’t the first smartphone maker to release a handset with a notch cut out of the display. LG had a phone with the top corner removed, and Essentials’ PH-1 has a small rounded notch cut out for the camera. Of course, Apple’s iPhone X has a unique oblong notch that’s unlike anything else — or at least, it was unlike anything else until nearly every Android company on the planet copied it. Just look at this picture of 20 embarrassing iPhone X copycats in a single image. The irony here is that the nifty new notch design all these Android clones are copying could be outdated as soon as next year.

There has been a ton of talk surrounding Apple’s notched display design and all the Android phones that are copying it. That conversation was rekindled this week when a Samsung patent application emerged showing a notch design just like Apple’s iPhone X. Android vendors are tripping over themselves to copy Apple’s pseudo all-screen design. Even though some of them are embarrassed and are trying to convince the world they weren’t copying Apple, we can all see the truth. In fact, so many Android phone makers are copying the notch that Google had to build notch support into Android P, its next big Android update.

As we mentioned, though, the real irony in all this is that all these Android companies are copying a design that could disappear a year from now.

Apple’s display notch exists to make room for the iPhone X’s ear speaker and the TrueDepth camera and sensor array that enables Face ID. The company’s Face ID solution replaced Touch ID on the iPhone X, and Apple says it’s going all in on Face ID moving forward. All three new iPhone models that debut in September are expected to feature Face ID in place of Touch ID, and so they’ll all have notches at the top of their displays.

The notch was born of necessity, but it appears as though that necessity may be short-lived. According to a report that emerged last month, Apple may already be working on a solution that will allow it to ditch the notch but keep Face ID on an iPhone with thin bezels. And according to that report, these new notchless iPhone models could be released as soon as next year.

In other words, Android vendors are spending all this time and effort copying a design that might not even exist a year from now.

What’ll be truly funny to watch is all the apologists who bizarrely insist that all these Android phone makers aren’t really copying Apple’s iPhone X design. It may be a bit more difficult to make that claim when Apple does away with the notch and all these Android copycats quickly clone whatever new design Apple comes up with.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.