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Bad iPhone Notches Are Happening To Good Android Phones ( 260

The Verge's Vlad Savov argues that Android smartphone manufacturers are copying the iPhone's design (specifically, the iPhone X's notch) with more speed and cynicism than ever before: I've been coming to Mobile World Congress for close to a decade now, and I've never seen the iPhone copied quite so blatantly and cynically as I witnessed during this year's show. MWC 2018 will go down in history as the launch platform for a mass of iPhone X notch copycats, each of them more hastily and sloppily assembled than the next. No effort is being made to emulate the complex Face ID system that resides inside Apple's notch; companies like Noa and Ulefone are in such a hurry to get their iPhone lookalike on the market that they haven't even customized their software to account for the new shape of the screen. More than one of these notched handsets at MWC had the clock occluded by the curved corner of the display. Asus is one of the biggest consumer electronics companies in the world, and yet its copycat notch is probably the most galling of them all. The Zenfone 5 looks and feels like a promising phone, featuring loud speakers, the latest Sony imaging sensor with larger-than-average pixels, and a price somewhere south of $499. I should be celebrating it right now, but instead I'm turning away in disgust as Asus leans into its copying by calling Apple a "Fruit Company" repeatedly. If you're going to copy the iPhone, at least have the decency to avoid trying to mock it.

It would be stating the obvious to say that this trend is not a good one. I'm absolutely of the belief that everyone, Apple included, copies or borrows ideas from everyone else in the mobile industry. This is a great way to see technical improvements disseminated across the market. But the problem with these notched screens on Android phones is that they're purely cosmetic. Apple's notch at the top of the iPhone X allows the company to have a nearly borderless screen everywhere else, plus it accommodates the earpiece and TrueDepth camera for Face ID. Asus et al have a sizeable "chin" at the bottom of their phones, so the cutouts at the top are self-evidently motivated by the desire to just look -- not function, look -- like an iPhone X.

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Bad iPhone Notches Are Happening To Good Android Phones

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  • by Lisandro ( 799651 ) on Sunday March 04, 2018 @06:22PM (#56207337)

    The Essential Phone had that useless notch thing even before the iPhone X came out.

    • And it was mocked just as much as the iPhone X is. That doesn't mean we shouldn't be disappointed that companies are copying useless shit from each other.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        As end users it does give us a point of attack though to get better phones. Just pile on Apple to get them to design better phones and once done, the rest will copy them. So mass meme attacks on Apple with better phone design ideas to give us a better phone pool to choose from, heh, heh.

      • by Xenx ( 2211586 )
        The notch in android phones, or at least the big name ones doing it, isn't (just) a matter of ripping off the design to look like the essential or the iPhone X. The bezel-less trend is real. The notch allows for a higher screen ratio. Further, for what it's worth, the only downside to the notch is when a game or movie isn't designed for it correctly. The only problem I have had is when watching a movie, with their higher ratios. Anything recorded for 4:3 or 16:9 is just fine.
        • The bezel-less trend is real.

          Yes and it was started by people who knew how to make them practical before curving the display edge and taking a chunk out of it.

    • Don’t think of it as a notch in your screen, but 2 extensions to your screen. With out the notch there will just be blank space not utilized for anything. I would think a geek site would like more uses in available space.

      • by sad_ ( 7868 )

        obviously it is used for something, because tfa mentions that it 'occluded the clock'.

    • OK I'm curious enough to ask, but too lazy to care if Google doesn't give me an immediate answer (seriously, I googled "notch" and most of the results were clickbait or about Markus Persson). So WTF is a notch?
  • > so the cutouts at the top are self-evidently motivated by the desire to just look -- not function, look -- like an iPhone

    The cargo cults of the modern world.

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      Reminds me of the story (not sure if it's actually true) about the Soviets copying a B-29 to produce their TU-4 bomber. They duplicated it right town to a riveted patch over some old battle damage.

  • FakeID (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Speare ( 84249 ) on Sunday March 04, 2018 @06:46PM (#56207421) Homepage Journal
    Honestly, not incorporating FaceID into an Android phone is a selling point for me. Only the owner can open it. And their brother. And anyone in China. And a cop who holds your phone up to your face. Unless a few other people look at your phone, in which case it won't even try.
    • Honestly, not incorporating FaceID into an Android phone is a selling point for me.

      FaceID is an optional feature, that is off by default. If you don't like it, just don't set it up on your phone.

  • After peak smartphone, it's all downhill from here.

  • by AbRASiON ( 589899 ) * on Sunday March 04, 2018 @07:02PM (#56207477) Journal

    I'm a slashdotter, so I'm somewhat of a luddite stuck in old times, for many many technical things. (Or perhaps I just don't like /unnecessary/ change, in design, especially when the end result is worse)

    I have a Samsung Note 5, the size, weight, fantastic, it has a FLAT screen, no stupid goddamn 'can't put on a protector' curve. It has a home button, a REAL button. The fingerprint scanner is on the front, on the home button in a convenient location.

    Admittedly, it still works pretty well, but one day, I'd like to replace it. *ALL* I would like is an identical phone that's faster, better camera, more storage and more network features, maybe USB C, more battery life if possible.

    I do not want a curved display.
    I do not want fingerprint scanner on the back.
    I do not want a smaller phone.
    I do not want one particularly larger.
    I DO want a /physical/ home, back and multitask button

    At the current pace of 'innovation' (read: wank factor) by the time my phone needs replacing, I will not be able to purchase a phone that matches my needs. OR the phone I want will be the 'budget edition' phone from the company, with a weak CPU / features that barely exceeds the Note 5 I had.

    I'll say one thing, these guys sure are curing my phone upgrade itch. The Note 8, iPhone X can go to hell as far as I'm concerned. The One Plus 5T can join them (although good on them for the price and flat display)

    • You forgot to mention you want a 3.5mm headphone jack, which wont be a available by the time you upgrade.

      • Christ yes! This too, very much so. Stupid @#%ers, seriously? One of the most ubiquitous plugs on the planet?


        • Once something becomes fashionable, everyone does it. If I was a pointy haired manager, I'd do it too.

          My pet peeve is the trend some years ago for very horizontal windscreens. Makes the car very hot on even mild days, and amplifies the effect of any dirt. Also reduces fuel efficiency because people need air con most days, and does nothing for aerodynamics (look at an aeroplane -- pointy at back, not front).

          But once it became fashionable, every car manufacture does it. The more horizontal the cooler the

      • To my surprise I am not missing that one as much as I thought I would. I picked up a pair of AirPods... now there’s something you’d expect of the good old Apple company, good looking, well built, practical, and of high quality. And they work equally well on my Windows laptop. Not going back to wires anytime soon, so they can keep the 3.5mm jack.
    • I replaced an older iPhone with a similarly sized iPhone 8s, which to my surprise doesn’t have a physical home button. It has a recessed pressure sensitive area, which “clicks” when you push it hard enough. Not quite like a physical button but close enough once you get used to it.

      Sadly they also replaced the aluminium back with a glass one, which makes for a seriously slippery phone. If I leave it on the arm rest of my lounge chair, it will slowly (over the course of 15 minutes or so) s
      • by Cloud K ( 125581 )

        8+? Yeah I just got one too. I always put a case on anyway and found aluminium slippery too, and am glad for wireless charging as it means I don't get a bunch of marks around the connector where I've tried to put it on a charging stand in the dark / when drunk / etc when going to bed.

        I love that because Apple keep the updates coming, I won't have to worry about FaceID or notch BS for a good 3-4 years, by which time hopefully there will be better solutions.

    • I have a Note 4 and I refuse to upgrade much to the dismay of the reps at one of my carrier's store. None of the new Note phones seem to do anything that justifies an expensive upgrade to me and even if they did I still prefer Note 4 for the fact I can swap out the battery while on the go. An ideal phone to me would be basically a Note 4 with newer, faster, hardware but instead Samsung keeps coming out with the same rehash of the hipster paper thin phone with a non-replaceable battery that explodes.
    • I'm a slashdotter, so I'm somewhat of a luddite stuck in old times

      WTF does that even mean. I'm a Slashdotter from the old times (read for a while before I even created an account, much to my everlasting shame) and I am firmly in the progress camp. In fact I would way MOST of Slashdot used to be in favor of technological progress until the last decade or so, when we started to see a spike in luddthargy creeping through the user base. But I still don't think it's prevalent.

      Everything that you want is there

      • by mccalli ( 323026 )
        Hmm - I'm also from the olden days, lost password to my original account but it's in the 12k range. I'm more luddite than ever. I keep seeing things being rehashed and recycled and often get worse too.

        The X - I have it, I like it but it feels a bit beta. FaceID is not better than TouchID in every way, it's better in one way only - no physical button. Other than that it's slower and more error prone. It can be more transparent in general use because you're already looking at your phone, but in other cases
      • (read for a while before I even created an account, much to my everlasting shame)

        This is funny!

        I agree with you on the gestures, I didn't think I would like them and quickly got used to it. The lack of a TouchID was concerning since I still really like being able to have the phone accessible by the time I look at it. So for example let's say you're in a meeting, yes yes you should be paying attention, Face ID isn't as optimal since you need a specific angle for it to get your face whereas the Touch ID just needs a finger. Besides that, easily the best phone I've owned.

    • I don't notice any distortion on my Pixel 2 XL, though the curved screen wasn't a selling point for me. I actually hesitated because of the curved screen. The reality is for me it doesn't matter.

      Glass screen protectors are very common for curved screens, I have a Zagg on mine and quick look shows S7 and S8 have them available.

      The case is slightly deeper, but not noticeably deeper. Again for me, I don't even notice the curve and case being awkward.

      The fingerprint scanner on the back is perfect. I pic

  • Apple Sucks! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MpVpRb ( 1423381 ) on Sunday March 04, 2018 @07:03PM (#56207481)

    Stop copying Apple!

    We need analog output, replaceable batteries, removable storage and easy repairability, not thinner copies of iphones

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I don't buy Samsung phones any more, but I was really happy to see that the Galaxy S9 has a headphone socket, an SD card socket, USB C, is waterproof, has a fingerprint scanner and wireless charging.

      If nothing else it debunks all the bullshit reasons for removing those things.

  • they haven't even customized their software to account for the new shape of the screen.

    It's no big deal. So long as the publicity given freely (or at least having the junkets paid for) and duly pushed out to the media lackeys results in sales of what looks like a competitor, the deficient software can be pushed out later.

    Or not. Because once the phone company has got the money from the sale, what is the point of giving stuff away for free?
    And of course those phones will only be a success if all the corrupt, wined and dined (at the very least!!!) journos who sing the praises of these half-r

  • Why is everyone so negative by default? The other makers aren't copying a "notch" (small part of screen missing), they're copying "ears" (two new additional areas of screen).

    You're all just looking at it the wrong way!

    • Jokes aside, this is really how it works in practice.

      I just switched from Android on a Nexus 6P to iOS on an X, for business interoperability (you can't send a message to more than 10 people if they're not all iMessage users, and 28/30 in my group were, so guess who was the last to hear any news?). Pros: great battery life, works as a device to send and receive messages and phone calls, has WiFi Calling and iMessage (so I can still get calls/texts when in the bowels of the Faraday-cage hospital I work in).
  • Actually it's the other way around, Apple has been copying Android phones for a long time.. The notch? Not Apple's invention...
  • Hey phone makers, instead of copying all the stupid antifeatures crap (nonreplaceable batteries, glass enclosures, no 3.5 mm headphone jack, notches, absurd thinness, etc..) I got an idea for you: Copy the Nokia N900.

    Yes! Please copy it and make a decent phone with a sliding physical keyboard where one can actually type and write! I don't care if the resulting phone is some milimeters thicker but GIVE US A PHYSICAL KEYBOARD!

  • Interesting article, but weren't these phones preproduction models and mockups?

    From how the author describes the vendors' phones at the conference, these are preproduction models and mockups. That's why the stupid "notch" was not handled well by the software.

  • They are having enough problems with their current line of motherboards...basically, if your RAM is Hynix-based, you're SOL.

  • Now having a black spot on your screen counts as a status symbol. Coming up next: pyrite-plated anything.

  • Here we see a brilliant strategy by Apple: put a useless "feature" into a phone, watch all the Chinese manufactures rush to copy that feature, then discontinue your own phone with that useless feature and leave the copycats with millions of units they can't sell! How many months before Apple ships the replacement for the iPhone X, without the notch and and with a headphone plug?
  • I do use the Iphone 10, and find it a great - if a bit small - device. While I much preferred my 950xl, that's useless now. I actually have no issue with the notch and the face ID. The real issue is the move from 4:3 ratio on all good devices to the less friendly 16:9 ratio. I have a Galaxy S8 as well that has that stupid ratio. It is very difficult to perform work on.

    I hope the Android fanbois at MWC don't move more towards that useless form factor.

The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is the most likely to be correct. -- William of Occam