Bonus Notches: Android smartphone vendors copy the striking design from Apple's iPhone X, ...

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in iPhone edited February 28
This year's Mobile World Congress has served as a reminder of how much influence Apple has over the smartphone market, with some companies choosing to design their devices with the iPhone X's novel but controversial 'notch' firmly in mind.




Sometimes, a design decision is made from necessity, as a compromise between two different directions instead of choosing one over the other. In most cases, the approach of having a cake and eating it leads down a path that should have been avoided, but occasionally it results in a striking design that others may wish they had come up with first.

It could be argued that the introduction of the "notch" in the iPhone X fits into this latter camp. Apple wanted to maximize the amount of screen available to the user, but still wanted to use some space for its TrueDepth camera array, with the notch becoming a solution that allowed the screen to go around the components.

Though some would have preferred a design that hid the notch with a black bar across the top, Apple's approach to the problem has been largely embraced by users, and certainly didn't cause any harm to Apple's quarterly results. The compromise has effectively become the iPhone X's design calling card, with the notch becoming one of the most noteworthy aspects of the iPhone X's design.

Pre Notch, Post Notch

Of course, Apple wasn't the first to the market with a device that noticeably cut into the top of the display, as the Essential smartphone included a small notch at the top for its front-facing camera. Essential's handset launched months in advance of the iPhone X, and though it is unclear if they came up with the idea independently or jumped on the rumors surrounding Apple's device, it seems consumers were not enthused enough about it to acquire their own.

Months after Apple brings a new iPhone out, elements of the design and even new features can crop up in smartphone launches by some Android vendors, keen to acquire users who may desire the iPhone aesthetic but at a cheaper price. For Mobile World Congress, taking place five months after Apple's September event and even longer after the first solid notch-related rumors came out, a few smartphone producers have gone down the same route.

Asus ZenFone 5 and ZenFone 5Z

Asus used MWC to launch four different ZenFone models, including one with a high-capacity battery and a more conventional ZenFone 5 Lite. The two other phones, the ZenFone 5 and the slightly larger ZenFone 5Z were revealed to bear a striking resemblance to the iPhone X, thanks to the inclusion of a notch of the top of both device screens.

Rather than shying away from direct comparisons between the devices, Asus has been upfront about how it was using the notch because Apple was doing so. Global head of marketing Marcel Campos admitted to The Verge "Some people will say it's copying Apple, but we cannot get away from what users want. You have to follow the trends."

Asus ZenFone 5Z
Asus ZenFone 5Z


On stage, Asus actually compared its notch with Apple's, claiming to the attending press that its own was "26 percent smaller than Fruit Phone X." According to the company, the iPhone X has an 86 percent screen-to-body ratio for its 5.8-inch display, compared to the 90 percent of the ZenFone 5's 6.2-inch screen.

Even the head of Asus has elected not to hide from direct comparisons between the smartphones. CNet quotes Asus CEO Jerry Shen as saying "Our price will be ... for everyone to enjoy compared to the fruit company," insinuating the ZenFone 5 is a cheap option for those who want to look like they own an iPhone X.

Leagoo S9

Continuing down the road of cheap and "cheerful," the Leagoo S9 is seemingly trying to draw in Samsung customers at the same time as those who just want a notch-equipped phone. Images of the device from GSMArena show what could be best described as a low-cost clone of the iPhone X, including both the aforementioned notch and a strikingly similar rear camera assembly.

Leagoo S9 (via GSMArena)
Leagoo S9 (via GSMArena)


The notch itself appears to have been added purely for stylistic reasons, with a close-up shot showing a small circle for the front camera, the speaker vent, and nothing else. It also seems the company had failed to take into account the notch's size in software, as the battery indicator and the clock are slightly blocked from view by both the edge of the notch and the bezel.

How much is it for this shining example of notch usage in a smartphone? A mere $150.

Noa N10

Another low-cost device revealed before MWC, the Croation Noa N10 does have a notch, but chooses to avoid mimicking the iPhone X. It's notch is best described as minimalist, opting for a small cut-away just large enough to contain all of the components it squeezes into that small space.

Noa N10
Noa N10


In this case, while it could certainly be said that the iPhone X offered some inspiration for the $300 handset's screen, Noa elected to use the core idea of a cut-out to maximize the screen. Sure, it's using a notch, but at least it deserves credit by not directly trying to rip off a popular design.

Huawei's rumored "P20"

Extending into the world of rumors, Huawei is believed to be including a notch in its P20 smartphone, expected to be announced at an event at the end of March. Leaked in images by Evan Blass, the cutout at the top of the alleged device is a fairly narrow notch that does appear to be occupied with a camera and another component, making it a more practical example of the notch in practice.

Huawei P20 (with two, not three, rear cameras) pic.twitter.com/GRJbIS8NNY

-- Evan Blass (@evleaks)


As this is an image leak for a rumored device, it is entirely plausible for Huawei to not launch the smartphone, instead opting for a more conventional display and camera arrangement. Considering the apparent proximity to its official unveiling and Chinese smartphone vendors having the tendency to use popular design ideas, it's more likely to keep the notch.

More on the way?

Admittedly, not many of the major smartphone producers have opted to incorporate their own interpretation of the notch into their latest handsets. Companies like LG, Sony, Alcatel, and even Samsung have shown off hardware set to arrive on the smartphone market in the coming months that do not have notches, fitting all the items at the top of the display into an ever decreasing space while giving as much screen area as possible.

Does this mean they won't incorporate notches in the future? No. These phone producers may turn towards using the notch in a future release, as it's certainly good enough for Apple to use, but may implement the technique it uses in different ways.

Indeed, it is believed Google is working on the assumption that notches are here to stay. A mid-February report claims the next version of Android, nicknamed "Android P," will include native support for multiple displays and foldable screens, as well as for screens with notches and other missing elements.

Pop-up camera from Vivo's Apex concept smartphone
Pop-up camera from Vivo's Apex concept smartphone


It may well be possible the manufacturers are working on their own solutions to the screen space issue, possibly one that doesn't involve any notch-like behavior. For example, Vivo showed off its Apex concept smartphone that has an edge to edge display with thin bezels, with its answer to the problem involving a pop-up camera that appears at the top of the device for self portraits, before retracting back into the phone's body.

For the moment, it seems that Apple's lead of using the notch will be followed by others either inspired to do something similar to improve their own devices, or simply to cash in on what it believes to be a popular trend. Until another major company, or Apple, comes up with a better solution, be prepared to continue seeing bits cut out of displays for a long while.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 32
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,644member
    Selling argument from the android phone makers will be look our phone notch is smaller or thinner than iPhone X or Samsung who bad mouth Apple will say we can't copy notch but look we have traditional long black top bar to hide camera,sensors..
    jbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 32
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,343member
    a notch without any purpose other than being a notch, you got to love these companies, and you know why the customers will buy it, so it looks like they are carrying around an iPhone.

    It is kind of like buying this car thinking you are getting a Ferrari only to realize it just the outside that looks like a Ferrari, by the way that is a Pontiac modified to look like a Ferrari



    But I thought everyone this year was going to intergrade touch ID into their screens since Apple fail to do that and had to fall back to face ID, which everyone claim the entire Android world already figure out how to do that and would have both this year.
    edited February 28 StrangeDaysmwhitewonkothesanecornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 32
    It's amazing. It goes from "hideous" to widely copied and then inevitable and obvious. We've seen this pattern over and over.
    StrangeDaysracerhomie3LukeCageMplsPcornchiplolliverlamboaudi4watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 32
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,530member
    When will we finally learn to ignore the caterwauling nincompoops in tech forums who declare whatever Apple does to be disappointing, wrong, stupid, DOA, failed? Expressing one’s opinion about Apple’s design decisions is one thing but proudly declaring no one will buy the thing because of YOUR personal objections is beyond stupid. There’s so much egg on faces over the notch those nincompoops could open a restaurant.
    edited February 28 mike1jony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 32
    smaller than Fruit Phone X”

    “compared to the fruit company”

    ...so they admire Apple enough to ape their designs, but not enough to use its name? Is it an attempt to disrespect Apple or what? Weird.

    Anyway, what’s the point of a notch if they’re still going to have chins on the bottom!? And the icon margins against the corners seems clumsy. LOL at the icons clipped by the notch or corners. Keep trying, guys. 
    wlymmuthuk_vanalingamracerhomie3jony0lolliverwatto_cobrawillcropoint
  • Reply 6 of 32
    smaller than Fruit Phone X”

    “compared to the fruit company”

    ...so they admire Apple enough to ape their designs, but not enough to use its name? Is it an attempt to disrespect Apple or what? Weird.

    Anyway, what’s the point of a notch if they’re still going to have chins on the bottom!? And the icon margins against the corners seems clumsy. LOL at the icons clipped by the notch or corners. Keep trying, guys. 

    Is it an attempt to disrespect Apple or what? It looked to me that way when I read the news in gsmarena. That too after copying an idea blatantly. It looks very distasteful to me. Even Gsmarena guys mocked their "26% less notch" part, pointing out the lack of FaceID components in Asus's phone that would obviously reduce the notch area required.


    Edit: Excerpts from GSMArena hands-on review of Asus zenfone 5 & 5z:

    Asus likes to point out their notch is smaller than Apple's. That's probably because they didn't need to fit a nearly impossible to miniaturize Kinect sensor beneath, but yes - Asus wins. Yay!


    Flipping the Zenfone 5 or 5z isn't helping to shake the iPhone X reminiscence. On the contrary - it looks like an iPhone X even more with that horizontal dual-camera setup that's even humping like the X's. Yes, we are all for competition, options and choices, but sometimes too much is too much.

    edited February 28 StrangeDaysLukeCagelolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 32
     be prepared to continue seeing bits cut out of displays for a long while.
    I prefer to see it as bits of display being added rather than cut out. The notch on the X doesn’t bother me one bit. I’d rather have more potential usable screen space than a bezel. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 32
    “smaller than Fruit Phone X”

    “compared to the fruit company”

    ...so they admire Apple enough to ape their designs, but not enough to use its name? Is it an attempt to disrespect Apple or what? Weird.

    Anyway, what’s the point of a notch if they’re still going to have chins on the bottom!? And the icon margins against the corners seems clumsy. LOL at the icons clipped by the notch or corners. Keep trying, guys. 

    It’s one thing to see forum trolls refer to Apple as the Fruit company. But to see an actual company use the same terms? Very unprofessional. Just makes them look stupid. 
    edited February 28 muthuk_vanalingamStrangeDaysdacharlolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 32
    LatkoLatko Posts: 158member
    The notch is a stupid idea, whatever Asian competitors do to emulate/copy/steal it. I wish it was really stolen (=> so it was gone)
    edited February 28 deepinsider
  • Reply 10 of 32
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,931member
    I told ya. Sooner or later, android phones would copy this. LOL.Per Asus:
    -------------
    “Some people will say it’s copying Apple,” said Marcel Campos, Asus’ global head of marketing, “but we cannot get away from what users want. You have to follow the trends.” So that’s settled: the iPhone-esque notch is now trendy and we’re all going to have to marvel at it across a diversity of Android devices, including the new Asus Zenfone.
    _______

    "what users want" and "the trends"...lol. So, fandroids are hypocrite, right? They trolled and they wanted it.
    watto_cobragordy
  • Reply 11 of 32
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 1,802member
    Don't look down on these Chinese makers.  They are actually cheerleaders of Apple. The same is true of Google. Google Android is a blatant copy of iOS. But iPhone sales really took off after 2009 when Google introduced cheap Android based phones to the world. Google propagated iPhone smartphone idea to the whole world. 
  • Reply 12 of 32
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 800member
    “smaller than Fruit Phone X”

    “compared to the fruit company”

    ...so they admire Apple enough to ape their designs, but not enough to use its name? Is it an attempt to disrespect Apple or what? Weird.

    Anyway, what’s the point of a notch if they’re still going to have chins on the bottom!? And the icon margins against the corners seems clumsy. LOL at the icons clipped by the notch or corners. Keep trying, guys. 

    It’s one thing to see forum trolls refer to Apple as the Fruit company. But to see an actual company use the same terms? Very unprofessional. Just makes them look stupid. 
    Agreed - the entire thing looks bad. The way they phrase it, it makes it seem like they intentionally copied it and their goal was to make it smaller and therefore better, which is a really strange line of thought. I guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

    As the article states, the notch is there out of necessity. You either get a ‘forehead’ all the way across the phone, or a notch, but there’s no current way to avoid having something while still keeping the speaker. If you dont’ like the notch, you can get an iPhone 8, which is largely the same phone, technologically speaking.
    edited February 28 watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 32
    BluntBlunt Posts: 219member
    What a bunch of clowns. These firms suck. Fruit Phone X, so childish. Buch of wannabies.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 32
    BluntBlunt Posts: 219member
    Latko said:
    The notch is a stupid idea, whatever Asian competitors do to emulate/copy/steal it. I wish it was really stolen (=> so it was gone)

    No it's not. It's the best solution to a full screen phone problem. Thats design: solving problems in the most elegant way.
    StrangeDaysradarthekatlolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 32
    Here a notch, there a notch, everywhere a notch-notch...
    radarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 32
    I love it when companies run negative ad campaigns or even just have negative comments about a product and then are either stuck or have to eat their words.  Some common examples I can think of are Chevy trashing the F150 aluminum bed and now seeing the results and wanting to copy it (notice those ads aren't running anymore and they aren't poking fun at aluminum?) and Southwest Airlines "bags fly free" and then seeing how many billions the industry are making off bag fees and not being able to add those same fees.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 32
    Hi-la-ri-ous.

    Maybe from people with 26% less brain capacity? ;-)

    Or, as it might be stated in the HHGTTG „Oh, well, 10 points for trying. But minus 5 million for style.“
    edited February 28 watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 32
    It's amazing. It goes from "hideous" to widely copied and then inevitable and obvious. We've seen this pattern over and over.
    It's still hideous.  The notch is definitely striking, but not in a good way.  And the fact that this "feature" is being copycatted is both laughable and pathetic.
    muthuk_vanalingamsingularity
  • Reply 19 of 32
    waverboy said:
    It's amazing. It goes from "hideous" to widely copied and then inevitable and obvious. We've seen this pattern over and over.
    It's still hideous.  The notch is definitely striking, but not in a good way.  And the fact that this "feature" is being copycatted is both laughable and pathetic.
    The fact they are copying for what Apple (in my opinion) had to settle for is funny.  Apple will keep working to get to a solution that is better.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 32
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,737member
    The reason the "Fruit" phone notch is wider is because Facial ID needs two cameras with sufficient distance between them for accurate 3D recognition.
    watto_cobra
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