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Tech Android phones everywhere are adopting the iPhone's 'notch' design — and it's causing them to miss a golden opportunity

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In 2017, Apple unveiled a smartphone that looked completely unique. One year later, that design is everywhere.

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(Hollis Johnson)

  • In the year since the iPhone X was released to the public, many phone makers have copied its signature design feature: the notch, or cutout, at the top center of the phone.
  • Notches weren't "a thing" until the iPhone X came along.
  • Years from now, when Apple and others eventually eliminate the notches from their phones, we'll wonder why competitors didn't try to leapfrog the iPhone when they had the chance.

Last year, Apple unveiled a smartphone that looked completely different from all the other phones on the market.

Last year, Apple unveiled a smartphone that looked completely different from all the other phones on the market. play

Last year, Apple unveiled a smartphone that looked completely different from all the other phones on the market.

(Hollis Johnson)


One year later, that design is everywhere.

One year later, that design is everywhere. play

One year later, that design is everywhere.

(Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider)


Here's the OnePlus 6.

Here's the OnePlus 6. play

Here's the OnePlus 6.

(Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider)


Here's the LG G7 ThinQ.

Here's the LG G7 ThinQ. play

Here's the LG G7 ThinQ.

(Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider)


Here's the Huawei P20 Pro.

Here's the Huawei P20 Pro. play

Here's the Huawei P20 Pro.

(Huawei)


Here's the Asus Zenfone 5.

Here's the Asus Zenfone 5. play

Here's the Asus Zenfone 5.

(Asus)


Here's the OnePlus 6T.

Here's the OnePlus 6T. play

Here's the OnePlus 6T.

(Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider)


And here's the Pixel 3 XL from Google.

And here's the Pixel 3 XL from Google. play

And here's the Pixel 3 XL from Google.

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)


See any similarities to Apple's design?

See any similarities to Apple's design? play

See any similarities to Apple's design?

(Hollis Johnson/Business Insider)


All of these smartphones have what people typically call a "notch," or a cut-out at the top center of the phone.

All of these smartphones have what people typically call a "notch," or a cut-out at the top center of the phone. play

All of these smartphones have what people typically call a "notch," or a cut-out at the top center of the phone.

(Apple)


Though Andy Rubin's Essential Phone was actually the first to introduce this design a few months before the iPhone X last year, it wasn't officially "a thing" until the iPhone X went on sale.

Though Andy Rubin's Essential Phone was actually the first to introduce this design a few months before the iPhone X last year, it wasn't officially "a thing" until the iPhone X went on sale. play

Though Andy Rubin's Essential Phone was actually the first to introduce this design a few months before the iPhone X last year, it wasn't officially "a thing" until the iPhone X went on sale.

(Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider)


Google, in particular, is driving the adoption of notches among Android phones. Aside from the new Pixel 3 XL, Google's latest version of Android supports notched smartphone designs, which makes it easier for other Android phone makers to build those kinds of phones. Great.

Google, in particular, is driving the adoption of notches among Android phones. Aside from the new Pixel 3 XL, Google's latest version of Android supports notched smartphone designs, which makes it easier for other Android phone makers to build those kinds of phones. Great. play

Google, in particular, is driving the adoption of notches among Android phones. Aside from the new Pixel 3 XL, Google's latest version of Android supports notched smartphone designs, which makes it easier for other Android phone makers to build those kinds of phones. Great.

(YouTube/MKBHD)


For what it's worth, copying Apple is nothing new — for better or worse.

For what it's worth, copying Apple is nothing new — for better or worse. play

For what it's worth, copying Apple is nothing new — for better or worse.

(Thomson Reuters)


Apple's smartphone designs have inspired the industry, and countless imitators, for years. Fingerprint sensors and virtual assistants weren't "a thing" until Apple put those features in an iPhone. These days, you can't find a smartphone without those features.

Apple's smartphone designs have inspired the industry, and countless imitators, for years. Fingerprint sensors and virtual assistants weren't "a thing" until Apple put those features in an iPhone. These days, you can't find a smartphone without those features. play

Apple's smartphone designs have inspired the industry, and countless imitators, for years. Fingerprint sensors and virtual assistants weren't "a thing" until Apple put those features in an iPhone. These days, you can't find a smartphone without those features.

(Business Insider/Steve Kovach)


It happened again this year. In the 12 months since Apple unveiled the iPhone X, with its edge-to-edge display and "notch" at the top of the phone, numerous phone makers have introduced new smartphones that look just like the iPhone X — notch and all.

It happened again this year. In the 12 months since Apple unveiled the iPhone X, with its edge-to-edge display and "notch" at the top of the phone, numerous phone makers have introduced new smartphones that look just like the iPhone X — notch and all. play

It happened again this year. In the 12 months since Apple unveiled the iPhone X, with its edge-to-edge display and "notch" at the top of the phone, numerous phone makers have introduced new smartphones that look just like the iPhone X — notch and all.

(YouTube/SAMTIME)


What's particularly funny is that the notch, in many ways, represents an imperfection with current smartphones.

What's particularly funny is that the notch, in many ways, represents an imperfection with current smartphones. play

What's particularly funny is that the notch, in many ways, represents an imperfection with current smartphones.

(YouTube/sakitech)


Apple specifically said the goal of the iPhone X was to make a smartphone that was "all screen" — and based on that definition, the iPhone X falls just short.

Apple specifically said the goal of the iPhone X was to make a smartphone that was "all screen" — and based on that definition, the iPhone X falls just short. play

Apple specifically said the goal of the iPhone X was to make a smartphone that was "all screen" — and based on that definition, the iPhone X falls just short.

(Hollis Johnson)


The iPhone's notch, though it powers a highly sophisticated security system, is the only blemish on an otherwise seamless display. It is edge-to-edge, technically, but not "all screen."

The iPhone's notch, though it powers a highly sophisticated security system, is the only blemish on an otherwise seamless display. It is edge-to-edge, technically, but not "all screen." play

The iPhone's notch, though it powers a highly sophisticated security system, is the only blemish on an otherwise seamless display. It is edge-to-edge, technically, but not "all screen."

(Apple)


In short, Android phone makers are squandering a golden opportunity to leapfrog Apple.

In short, Android phone makers are squandering a golden opportunity to leapfrog Apple. play

In short, Android phone makers are squandering a golden opportunity to leapfrog Apple.

(Reuters)


What's interesting is how few phone makers are even trying to solve this problem, as if the notch is not a clear design flaw. This phone from Sharp, for instance, has two notches!

What's interesting is how few phone makers are even trying to solve this problem, as if the notch is not a clear design flaw. This phone from Sharp, for instance, has two notches! play

What's interesting is how few phone makers are even trying to solve this problem, as if the notch is not a clear design flaw. This phone from Sharp, for instance, has two notches!

(Sharp)


To give credit where it's due, some companies are trying different things. Samsung chose not to go down the notch path at all with its Galaxy S and Note phones.

To give credit where it's due, some companies are trying different things. Samsung chose not to go down the notch path at all with its Galaxy S and Note phones. play

To give credit where it's due, some companies are trying different things. Samsung chose not to go down the notch path at all with its Galaxy S and Note phones.

(Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider)


Other groups, like Chinese companies Oppo and Vivo, are also experimenting with ways to hide the selfie camera when it's not in use.



Still, many companies, including Google, have simply accepted the notch without challenging it, or at least shrinking it. The notch on the Pixel 3 XL is massive, for instance.

Still, many companies, including Google, have simply accepted the notch without challenging it, or at least shrinking it. The notch on the Pixel 3 XL is massive, for instance. play

Still, many companies, including Google, have simply accepted the notch without challenging it, or at least shrinking it. The notch on the Pixel 3 XL is massive, for instance.

(YouTube/MKBHD)


Perhaps some phone makers think it's better to look like the competition than to try something different. But some day, probably soon, the iPhone will no longer have a notch, and other phone makers will then follow suit, eliminating the notches from their own phones. And we'll look back on this time — the Notch Era — and shake our heads in wonderment. We'll ask: Why did so many phone makers simply follow Apple, when they had a golden opportunity to jump ahead?

Perhaps some phone makers think it's better to look like the competition than to try something different. But some day, probably soon, the iPhone will no longer have a notch, and other phone makers will then follow suit, eliminating the notches from their own phones. And we'll look back on this time — the Notch Era — and shake our heads in wonderment. We'll ask: Why did so many phone makers simply follow Apple, when they had a golden opportunity to jump ahead? play

Perhaps some phone makers think it's better to look like the competition than to try something different. But some day, probably soon, the iPhone will no longer have a notch, and other phone makers will then follow suit, eliminating the notches from their own phones. And we'll look back on this time — the Notch Era — and shake our heads in wonderment. We'll ask: Why did so many phone makers simply follow Apple, when they had a golden opportunity to jump ahead?

(YouTube/Unbox Therapy)


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