News by VICE

China is copying the worst feature of the iPhone X

The latest generation of cheap iPhone X knockoffs come complete with the "notch"

by David Gilbert
Feb 28 2018, 1:00pm

When the iPhone X launched last year, almost all of the criticism of the new phone — aside from its $1,000 price tag — centered on the notch, a cutout on the top of the phone’s edge-to-edge screen that houses the earphone, front-facing camera, and other sensors.

Fast-forward five months, and instead of shying away from the notch, cut-price Android smartphone makers from China are embracing, er, copying it. One company is even promising a smartphone with a notch for as little as $40.

At the time the iPhone X was launched in September, the notch was considered a divisive design feature that some embraced, but many hated. But for those in the business of copying Apple products and selling them cheaply, the notch is a badge of honor.

At the world’s largest mobile phone trade show, Mobile World Congress, taking place in Barcelona this week, Android smartphone manufacturers are showing off similar designs to the iPhone X, but at much lower prices.

This is not a new phenomenon. Android smartphone vendors — and cut-price Chinese ones in particular — have for years been accused of copying Apple’s iconic smartphone designs. Xiaomi, currently the world’s fourth largest smartphone manufacturer, was for years dubbed the Apple of the East for its blatant copying.

Here are some of the Chinese brands looking to cash in on those customers who may hope to trick their friends into thinking they own the latest iPhone:

  • Leagoo S9: Leagoo is not only looking to copy Apple with a notch cut out of the top of its display, it is also looking to copy Samsung which just launched the Galaxy S9 in Barcelona. This will set you back $125.
  • Doogee V: Not only is the Doogee V offering you the notch, it is also offering an in-screen fingerprint sensor, technology only available on a couple of other handsets today. Doogee has yet to announce a price, but given its other phones sell for around $200 it’s hard to see this being as expensive as an iPhone X.
  • Blackview A30: It may only have 1GB of RAM and a measly 8GB of internal storage, but if you REALLY want that notch and don’t have very much money, then the Blackview A30, costing just $40, might just be for you.
  • Oukitel U18: Shenzhen-based Oukitel launched the U18 in Barcelona this week sporting a familiar-looking notch. Despite its low $180 price tag, it also offers a dual camera system and a fingerprint scanner, something the iPhone X is lacking.

But the appeal of the notch is not restricted to China:

  • Asus Zenfone 5: The highest profile notch copycat launched at MWC this year, Taiwanese electronics giant Asus says it's just giving people what they want. “Some people will say it’s copying Apple, but we cannot get away from what users want,” Marcel Campos, Asus’ global head of marketing, said.
  • Noa N10: Not only has Croatian company Hangar18 copied the notch design with its Noa N10 smartphone, the device also boasts a facial recognition system called “Face ID” — which we’re sure is completely different to Apple’s “FaceID.” The N10 will set you back around $360.

Cover image: The Leagoo S9 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. (Photo by: Andrej Sokolow/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)