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Was the Samsung Galaxy S III design driven by lawyers?

Posted: , by Victor H.

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Was the Samsung Galaxy S III design driven by lawyers?
The Samsung Galaxy S III didn’t come with a fancy ceramic finish, nor was it in the shape of its predecessor. With curves floating around its sides making its corners fold differently, no black version and a couple of other interesting coincidences, the SGS III design is different. As in weird. It’s different than the one of the Galaxy S II, but most interestingly, it’s different than the iPhone. And this last interesting coincidence, caught by Android Police, might have been at the core of how the Galaxy S III came into being - designed by lawyers to avoid Apple’s lawsuits.

To be perfectly exact, it's the "trade dress" suit. This is a kind of a legal attack on design where Apple basically tried something bold by saying it owns a set of designs like black rectangular smartphones. Here are some of the pillars of design that Apple uses to lay blame on Samsung for copying its products:

1. a rectangular product shape with all four corners uniformly rounded;
2. the front surface of the product dominated by a screen surface with black borders;
3. as to the iPhone and iPod touch products, substantial black borders above and below the screen having roughly equal width and narrower black borders on either side of the screen having roughly equal width;
4. as to the iPad product, substantial black borders on all sides being roughly equal in width;
5. a metallic surround framing the perimeter of the top surface;
6. a display of a grid of colorful square icons with uniformly rounded corners; and
7. a bottom row of square icons (the "Springboard") set off from the other icons and that do not change as the other pages of the user interface are viewed.

The points are taken directly from Apple’s 2011 trade dress infringement suit against Samsung. Interestingly, nearly all of them are smartly addressed by the Korean company in the SGS III, and it’s hard to believe this is a coincidence. Of course, Cupertino can’t sue Samsung for having just one or two of those features like the common metallic framing, but it’s rather the combination of a lot of them that gives Apple it’s legal reasoning.

Take a look at the images below - they are a perfect illustration of what could have driven (and likely drove) Samsung’s designers in the process of creating the SGS III. 

Now, we wouldn’t call the design of the S III ugly - it’s not. And, Samsung achieved to narrow down the bezel significantly, allowing for a 4.8-inch screen while keeping the size of the last Galaxy S nearly intact. But doesn’t it bother you that Apple has the leverage to now force major phone makers to quit making rectangular handsets with equally rounded corners (for example)? Let us know how you feel about all this in the comments below.

Images courtesy of Android Police.

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posted on 07 May 2012, 03:46 14

1. breathlesstao (unregistered)

To be quite honest, there are so many things about apple that bother me (I doubt there is any that doesn't), that one more or less won't really make a difference.

posted on 07 May 2012, 04:29 5

9. anywherehome (Posts: 971; Member since: 13 Dec 2011)

yes, how any one can love Apple with this IT Adolf?
I don't understand.....but probably the same reason the whole world lies in debts......so vote for experts not for politicians!

posted on 07 May 2012, 04:44 5

13. thelegend6657 (unregistered)

Although like apple's product . Using stupid patents just to wipe off competition is Wrong . Competition leads to more innovation . Btw the design of the s3 looks kinda nice , looks like a real successor to the s1 compared with that squarish s2

posted on 07 May 2012, 08:56

27. ZEUS.the.thunder.god (unregistered)

now thats completely BS to say that SIII was designed by lawyers. i dont understand the problem with the design scheme of S III. it really fits with the nature inspired design and software. i think the only reason some people are disappointed because of too much hype and they were expecting alien ware phone.

posted on 07 May 2012, 09:57 2

32. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)

I actually like the design more than my s2...Just think people are being petty about the look as it's a personal opinion... All this design by lawyer may be true but there is no rock solid evidence but mere coincidence.

posted on 07 May 2012, 12:09

39. sithman (banned) (Posts: 299; Member since: 21 Apr 2012)

But people's opinions about the looks of it are personal opinions.

posted on 07 May 2012, 03:47 9

2. bobfreking55 (Posts: 866; Member since: 15 Jul 2011)

actually, it's impossible that it wasn't driven by lawyers, IMO.

and to be honest, i know I won't be making friends with this, but I actually like the design. especially the blue one. all my friends would be so curious on what I'm holding and what it does if I ever get to hold one. still disappointed bout the screen, but everything else is good. still cheering for Samsung.

don't want them to make the next nexus though. idk.

posted on 07 May 2012, 05:12 5

17. Whateverman (Posts: 3262; Member since: 17 May 2009)

I'm with you bob! I don't know why people are so upset about the design, it looks good to me too.

posted on 07 May 2012, 06:53 4

20. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

I know I'm happy about the color choice as well. We both know I wanted a blue one.. lol

I do agree, that lawyers are involved in pretty much everything.

The design is the American SGS hercules/skyrocket with a few minor adjustments.. and judging from the close ups, they are not adjustments most people would notice.. but hey, if it keeps apple's jealous paws off their back, then good.
As far as the lack of black.. I doubt that was from the laywers.. like 90% of the smartphones are black. It was probably more to just stand out in the sea of black smartphones. The most popular color these days seems to be white for some reason, so they kept that and tried something a little different instead of the black. If people want the black phone, there are plenty of black cases out there.. no biggie.

posted on 07 May 2012, 10:10 1

33. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)

Sure a black version will be made along with a pink one. What colour are you getting mate

posted on 07 May 2012, 10:36 2

34. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

Me? Blue. I was yelling for a blue superphone, and they listened. So now i must go buy it. :)

posted on 07 May 2012, 10:48 1

35. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)

Yep am thinking of getting the blue too but will see how it looks in person first ... Now just need to sell my s2 to fund towards the s3.

posted on 07 May 2012, 17:41

44. BattleBrat (Posts: 1458; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)

Yes, Blue is the way to go, I think they just released a blue RAZR...
Hey you work for T-mo right? how many people bring in ebay bought LG double plays for activation?
Those darn things are going for nearly as much as RAZRS!

posted on 07 May 2012, 10:51 3

36. bobfreking55 (Posts: 866; Member since: 15 Jul 2011)

i am now with you on the whole blue thing. I fell in love with that thing!

posted on 07 May 2012, 09:10 1

30. tluv00 (Posts: 134; Member since: 18 Oct 2007)

When I first saw the device I was not impressed by hoe it looked but that was the white version. The blue definitely looks better and makes the overall design not as bad as I first thought.

Would I call it amazing? No but I would say it looks pretty good.

posted on 07 May 2012, 03:51 5

3. paulyyd (Posts: 338; Member since: 08 Jan 2011)

in other words, samsung made one ugly ass phone hahah

posted on 07 May 2012, 04:18 3

8. alterecho (Posts: 1098; Member since: 23 Feb 2012)

I don't know if the design decision was driven by apple but samsung could have come with something better. Htc one X is awesome. So is the xperia s. Samsung shouldn't have listened to the lawyers, if thats the case. I don't think apple under Cook will sue blatantly.

posted on 07 May 2012, 11:03 2

37. jamrockjones (Posts: 345; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)

I think the phone looks sleek. I like it. I wish they would stop making them so big though, 4.3 is a good screen size.

posted on 07 May 2012, 12:39 1

42. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)

yeah agree and also think the s2 was just the perfect size for a phone..they could have easily fit in a 4.5'' screen a phone the size of the s2 and that would have been just perfect...

posted on 07 May 2012, 03:52

4. jagroopdeol (Posts: 3; Member since: 05 May 2012)

check dis out..........

posted on 07 May 2012, 03:53 7

5. Jaspzx (Posts: 3; Member since: 07 May 2012)

Samsung should start taking Design lessons from Sony... ...

posted on 07 May 2012, 06:20

19. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)


posted on 07 May 2012, 03:55 3

6. darkskoliro (Posts: 1076; Member since: 07 May 2012)

I dont care who it was designed by. Give me something good looking. Just like the one x, who the f**k worries about lawyers when you got something original and better?

posted on 07 May 2012, 04:00 6

7. Fayeznoor (Posts: 71; Member since: 15 Nov 2011)

don't make sense, Apple has lost all ip against samsung.

posted on 07 May 2012, 04:43 2

12. nikhil.agrawal88 (Posts: 18; Member since: 01 Mar 2012)

personally i dont care how powerful the phone is but atleast it should look good..and galaxy s3 looks ugly..i've got one x and have to say that phone is pretty awesome it might not be as powerful as s3 but atleast it feels good to hold it in my hands..

posted on 07 May 2012, 04:46 4

14. thelegend6657 (unregistered)

Agree I like the design of the OneX more . I also like the matte black paint

posted on 07 May 2012, 05:10 4

15. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)

Whatever, the SGSIII still isn't a bad looking device.
On contrary, the more i look at this phone the nicer it seems.
Marble blue with that striped pattern is so fresh, the white one looks like it's made out of ivory, lines are clear and elegant..had it been made out of ceramic it would be pure class and elegance.
It definitely isn't a black slab!

posted on 07 May 2012, 05:11 1

16. Bluesky02 (Posts: 1439; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)

Those Apple patents if trully applied make it impossible to make another awesome smartphone. Apple simply patented something that could not directly rival their own iPhone product. I call those patents bulls**ts.
Currently right now there're many smartphone that lookalike the iPhone, but Apple won't sue them because their smartphone isn't top selling or not a threat.

posted on 07 May 2012, 06:58 2

21. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

those are not patents they mentioned. they dont have a patent for rounded corners.. its just a list they made to try to say samsung copied them. From the looks of it, they are trying to say anything that is symmetrical and well made is an iphone copy. There is nothing from that list that screams "iphone".. but it sounds like just about every smartphone out there.

Notice how "large central button on the bottom bezel" was not one of their complaints? Thats one of the most recognizable features of an iphone other than the logo on the back.

posted on 07 May 2012, 05:54 3

18. Phullofphil (Posts: 801; Member since: 10 Feb 2009)

I like the way it looks. I can really care less any way cause after the first week the only thing I look at is the screen and how well it flows. With the hardware it should flow great. The wireless charging I hope cost fifty dollars or less to make happen. Even though it will probably be a back cover that has to come with a battery for about fifty bucks pluse a fifty to eighty dolar charging pad that only works with the Samsung phone.

posted on 07 May 2012, 07:04

22. matrix_neo (Posts: 334; Member since: 03 Nov 2011)

It's good that at least samsung change the design, if not, same with s2, how people will know it's galaxy s3. Take the case of iphone 4s. Although samsung didn't make it the best design, many features are added, which differ from htc one x. I think one x is the best in design but still lacks of important features like removable battery.

I still like the design of s3, lets wait once it is released and judge it by its users. Im sure lot of them will give their reviews and comments here in pa.

posted on 07 May 2012, 07:07

23. lubba (Posts: 1313; Member since: 17 Jan 2011)

Luckily its not driven by gimmick like liquid metal.

posted on 07 May 2012, 07:41

24. mercorp (Posts: 1027; Member since: 28 Jan 2012)

The galaxy s2 has a better design.

posted on 07 May 2012, 07:46

25. M2Iceman (Posts: 9; Member since: 04 Nov 2011)

I find this article very funny because in many of the leaks for the Iphone5 there has been speculation as to the screen size not being bigger. The current rumor now is that it will only be a 4" screen, why is that?? Im guessing that since Sammy and the rest of the phone makers have to worry about screen size and button placement, is Apple now worried about the same thing? If Apple goes bigger than a 4" screen could then Sammy and HTC start firing off patent suits claiming that Apple now has a product similar to their 4.3, 4.6 or 4.8 screen?? If its true that Sammy did what it did for the G3, (lawyer product development) then same has to be said for the IP5.

posted on 07 May 2012, 08:09

26. medicci37 (Posts: 1278; Member since: 19 Nov 2011)

The design sure ad hell wasn't driven by aesthetics.

posted on 07 May 2012, 12:41

43. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)

matter of opinion you think it looks ugly and some thinks it looks nice...as with many things looks are always personal opinion..there is no right or wrong

posted on 07 May 2012, 09:01 2

28. jibraihimi (Posts: 763; Member since: 29 Nov 2011)

They should have tried to keep the screen size to 4.3"-4.5", this would have increased the ppi....... For bigger size screen lovers they already have galaxy note, so what's the use of increasing the size of GS3.......... I think with such a huge screen GS3 should also be categorized as phablet....... And I hope they don't increase the size of note2 from 5.3" to 6.0", as this will make it tablet from phablet................

posted on 07 May 2012, 09:07

29. jibraihimi (Posts: 763; Member since: 29 Nov 2011)

Is there any moore's law for the size of the screen on smart phones, which states "more the size of processor decreases in the mobile phones, the size of screen will increase in ratio"................ Now along with making these hugeeeeeeee size phones, manufacturers should also start making some machines and supplements which will increase the size of the palm...... Beacuse though size of screen of phones are increasing every yr. but the size of our palm is still constant..........

posted on 07 May 2012, 09:53 1

31. henrickrw (Posts: 408; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)

Say what you want haters. This will not stop me from supporting the brand.

While some have criticised the launch of the SIII saying it was as disappointing as the iPhone 4S launch, I beg to differ. The iPhone 4S has an almost identical physical design to the iPhone 4 while most people were expecting a departure from this including a larger screen. The SIII provides not only a larger and higher resolution screen, but a progressive new design which has curves inspired by nature.

When it comes to design often it's something you like, or something you don't, the rest of the criticisms are arguably minor. Build quality is much less subjective, but often confused with build materials used. The original Galaxy S I9000 and Galaxy SII I9100 both used very similar materials, both of them also had high build quality and durability. As NZtechfreak has stressed so many times, using premium build materials does not ensure high build quality. In fact, while HTC often uses more premium feeling materials, their build quality is often appalling and most of their recent devices have been affected by one issue or another.

While you might have been shocked that Samsung used a Pentile Matrix Super AMOLED HD 720p display on the SIII, you really shouldn't be - the full RGB stripe technology just isn't ready yet. In fact, you shouldn't even be disappointed, as at over 300 PPI its very unlikely that you will be able to notice any tell-tale cross-hatching or any issues with luminance inconsistency, the latter of which affected the Galaxy Nexus. Sure, it might not best the amazing SLCD-2 display on the HTC One X, but it comes close, and it's a huge step up from the resolution limitations of the Galaxy SII.

While the software enhancements were a major focus; and some feel a major let down, there were actually a few ideas I found to be quite appealing. Keeping my screen on while I'm looking at it might seem fairly minor, but its small usability tweaks like this that become things that annoy you when they are no longer present. Another feature I'm looking forward to is the pop up play functionality, which would allow me to continue watching a video while texting the Fiancée on the train to/from work.

posted on 07 May 2012, 12:09

40. gallitoking (Posts: 4718; Member since: 17 May 2011)

"Say what you want haters. This will not stop me from supporting the brand."
thats what Apple consumer have been saying for 3 going on 4 years.. now...

posted on 07 May 2012, 18:00

45. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

technically, its what android users have been saying to the legions of Apple fans for the 2 years until Android took over as top vendor and the iNuts started to dissipate a bit.

posted on 07 May 2012, 12:03

38. android1234 (Posts: 137; Member since: 09 Feb 2010)

I like the GS3 design. I have the verizon Galaxy Nexus as of now, and will probably stick with for the time being, as the GS3 and HTC OneX dont really provide that much of an upgrade for me to switch. I think the Gnex is still one of the best looking phones with its curved display. The 720p pentile screen is amazing, and I cannot notice any pixelation, the saturated dark blacks, and pop out colors make this display look beautyiful. Holding off for the next Nexus to be released end of this year, or any of the next gen phone early next year to offer more significatn upgrades to the GNex.

posted on 07 May 2012, 12:32

41. frydaexiii (Posts: 1443; Member since: 01 Dec 2011)

Maybe Samsung realised square icons are stupid too? And I don't get why people say the SIII is ugly, at the back maybe, it doesn't look very "high end", but up front you can see it is truly inspired by "nature", the shape of a leaf, the curves of a pebble.

posted on 08 May 2012, 23:16

47. ilia1986 (unregistered)

Inspired by nature?



posted on 08 May 2012, 09:41

46. djripster (Posts: 138; Member since: 10 Dec 2011)

Would anyone be surprised if the next iPhone looked exactly like the GSIII

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