Computers and Technology

Apple’s iPhone X: Attack of the Clones



I had to look twice at the picture up top: It looks like Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone X, complete with the highly controversial design for what is known as the “forehead” at the top of the screen.

As is often the case with copies of things, the marketing shots for the Xiaomi Mi 8 are hilariously similar to the illustrations for the iPhone X:


It’s hardly headline news that some designs are copied in consumer technology, so take the following as less of a news flash and more of a casual observation.

The infamous forehead, that little bulge, or notch, at the top of the iPhone’s display that scoops into the screen, upsetting the pristine lines of the iPhone X’s greatly reduced bezel, received very mixed reactions when the device was first unveiled in September.

To date, other phones that are slimming down the bezels have gone with different designs than the iPhone X, such as the “Essential Phone,” which I reviewed last year.

But the characteristic notch is now proliferating to new devices shipping soon or on their way, including the Mi 8.

The reason for the notch for Apple was to house the “TrueDepth” camera system, a collections of sensors that work together to provide the “FaceID” facial recognition feature, which has thus far been unique to the iPhone X.


Now come the clones, in particular two new models that run Alphabet (GOOGL) subsidiary Google’s Android operating system. They’re the first I’ve personally seen to take the characteristic forehead notch and replicate it.

As with the iPhone X, the Mi 8 talks up facial recognition. The Mi 8, says Xiaomi, is “the first ever Android device in the world that comes with 3D face unlock,” using “an infrared camera paired with a dedicated infrared illuminator.”

The marketing blog post discusses how the devices use “advanced structured light technology,” sounding very much like the technical term for Apple’s TrueDepth.

The Mi 8 technology “can rapidly match measurement points on a face while at the same time cutting down 3D data processing to save power,” says Xiaomi.

The phone also apparently comes with something very much like Apple’s animated emoji cartoons: “Also new in the Mi 8 Explorer Edition is an emoji function that allows users to create their own animated emojis based on their facial expressions.”

Xiaomi adds that one flavor of the Mi 8, called the “Explorer Edition,” adds fingerprint recognition, which the iPhone X did away with. The Mi 8 “is the first ever smartphone in the world to use pressure-sensitive in-display fingerprint technology, meaning it has a dedicated pressure sensor that activates unlocking more quickly.”

The Mi 8 is priced at $421 for the basic model and $577 for the Explorer. The basic Mi 8 will go on sale in China on June 5, while the Explorer’s retail date is not specified.

Another device to copy the notch is from Croatia’s Hanger 18, which makes the “NOA” line of devices. The other day they announced the “NOA N10” smartphone. Aside from the notch, it caries a an “octa-core” processor from Taiwan’s MediaTek (2454TW), and a Sony (SNE) camera chip that takes 16-megapixel shots but that the company says will “oversample” your shots to produce pictures of 96 megapixels.


Hanger 18 doesn’t state pricing and availability, and it sounds like things are not as far along as the Xiaomi products: the device is still to go through “device testing,” says Hanger 18.

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