MWC 2018 Attack of the Clones

Why are there so many cheap imitations Apple this year? There is a theory about this …

MWC 2018 Attack of the Clones

Original material

As a user who prefers Android, it was painful for me to follow the news of the past MWC.
For many years, the mobile congress has been a showcase of the best Android – devices with a gaggle of budget smartphones, an abundance of high-end specs and new ideas like curved displays and optical zoom cameras. The exhibition has always demonstrated that smartphones on Android are different and in some ways even superior iPhone. Everything changed this year. Instead of focusing on what makes Android – devices unique, manufacturers went for a ridiculous 'trick with the ears' in order to prove that they work on the same wavelength with Apple. Thus, they have shown themselves to be cheap imitators, unable to oppose anything to solutions that may not be worthy of copying at all.

Quite often 'cutouts'

The most striking example in the negative sense of the word is the cutout or notch for the front camera in smartphones with a 'frameless' display. Yes, the cutout in iPhone X is an eyesore for many, but it at least serves a practical purpose by hiding the backlight system, dot projector, and infrared camera that are part of the Face ID authentication system. So the neckline is a designation for the technological solutions lurking in it, which may explain the attention paid to its curves.

MWC 2018 Attack of the Clones

Variations on iPhone X

None of the newest notch apologists at MWC have done anything like this. Asus boasted a smaller cutout in Zenfone 5 and 5Z compared to 'fruity iPhone X', which was easy to achieve given the lack of anything even closely resembling Face ID at this location. Let Asus brag about the fact that the display-to-body ratio in the company's devices exceeds this figure by iPhone X, but the thick bezels under the screens in these smartphones negate the 'bezel-less'. A similar trend could be seen in other clones iPhone X shown at the show.

MWC 2018 Attack of the Clones

There are other ways to get the best screen-to-body ratio. Samsung decided to keep the Galaxy S9 minimal bezels at the top and bottom, while using curved glass to extend the display to the corners of the body vertically. Xiaomi Mi The 2016 Mix had a bezel just under the screen where the front camera was located, and reproduced sound through a vibrating metal case, rather than through a speaker on the front panel. The company Vivo showed at MWC a phone with a camera popping out of the body. Compared to these examples, companies such as Asus create weak design imitations Apple for no good reason other than 'trend sadness'.

MWC 2018 Attack of the Clones

Disadvantages of face recognition

Samsung, in its attempt to keep up with Face ID, also failed to avoid unflattering comparisons with Apple. In the Galaxy S8, the user had to choose between face recognition and iris scanning (which helps in dark environments), which worked well in good lighting conditions, while the S9 combines both methods: first using one, then the other, then both. Presumably, the new system is faster, but may suffer from the same security vulnerabilities. While it is based on two-dimensional face recognition, such a system is still susceptible to photo unlocking, which explains the refusal to authorize payments by face authentication.

MWC 2018 Attack of the Clones


Samsung's hints of similar features to Face ID did not help either: the new AR Emoji function creates an animated avatar on the screen after scanning a face. As Harry McCracken noted in his article, “AR Emoji does not have the same precision and clarity of work” as Animoji from Apple, because S9 lacks face marking technology. So why does Samsung need a feature that only makes the company lag behind?

Disappearing 3.5mm jack

Samsung's efforts should be given credit: the company decided to keep the headphone jack in the new flagships, but other manufacturers decided to ditch it in favor of USB-C. In particular, Sony and Nokia did this this year.

MWC 2018 Attack of the Clones

Regardless of whether this connector is important to you, Apple at least prepared users to abandon it by releasing iPhone 7. The company included headphones with a Lightning connector and an adapter with 3.5 mm on Lightning, and also announced AirPods as a compelling wireless alternative with stylish designs and easy connectivity. USB-C earbuds are rarely found on devices, and manufacturers of wireless earbuds are forced to settle for aging technology until Qualcomm updates its processor lineup for such devices.

Ran aground

Why are there so many cheap imitations Apple this year? There is a theory about this.
In the past, Apple allowed other smartphone makers to work hard to differentiate their devices. They could offer larger screens, larger batteries, comparatively thinner bezels, new features in the camera (for example, optical zoom with a double lens) and breakthrough wireless technologies (as was the case in the early days of 4G LTE) even before Apple decided to take similar steps. But as the range expanded iPhone, the seemingly obvious scope for differentiation was reduced to zero. iPhone X is close to its maximum usable size, its bezels are thinner than most other smartphones, and it also has a dual lens camera.

And although the manufacturers of Android devices have always borrowed something from Apple, especially when it comes to design, the latest ideas from Cupertino are not easy to copy. Controversial decisions Apple (abandoning the headphone jack and Touch ID, as well as turning the 'notch' in the display into a manifest) make sense because they rely on exclusive technologies, such as the W1 coprocessor in AirPods and the TrueDepth system in the chamber iPhone X. Apple was able to 'catch up and overtake' the manufacturers Android – devices, and the latter have nothing to oppose.

Of course, this is not about the fact that there are no more opportunities to outdo Apple. Last year, Razer launched the first phone with an adaptive screen refresh rate, which both improves battery life and gives the display an extra smoothness in gaming mode. As part of MWC Vivo, it showed a concept of a phone with a camera popping out of the body and a fingerprint sensor built into the display. Rumor has it Xiaomi is close to releasing a new version of its Mi Mix smartphone with minimal bezels and no 'notch'. At the same time, Samsung and LG continue to use the 3.5 mm jack in their flagships, thus proving the possibility of producing thin and light smartphones with a headphone jack.

But these ideas are more difficult to implement in comparison with the increased diagonal and reduced bezels. In order to look apart from the background iPhone and not disgrace themselves, the manufacturers Android – smartphones need to try very hard. Hope they can do it.

Posted by Jared Newman.

From the very first 'leaks' iPhone X, I have a sense of the experimental nature of the device, released in an attempt to probe and simultaneously push the market. This move, timed to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the first 'fruit' smartphone, indirectly responded to the growing murmur in the fan base Apple and caused the split. But not such a reaction was expected Android – enthusiasts from OEMs. Only the lazy one is not writing about this now, and for good reason: strive so much for differentiation – and on you.
Moreover, it is very interesting to observe precisely the Chinese manufacturers who seem to be switching to the 18: 9 display format, but at the same time offer their own solutions, and not mindlessly copy the 'cutout'. For some reason, large manufacturers prefer not to take risks, exposing themselves in a not very flattering light. It would be better to work on important aspects of devices (autonomy, optimization), 98% of users will survive the absence of a 'cutout'.

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