Help! Android phones now copying Apple’s flat iPhone 12 design & MagSafe

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Help! Android phones now copying Apple’s flat iPhone 12 design & MagSafe
Holy guacamole! When is Apple going to stop being a bad example for Android?!

It’s been about ten months since the iPhone 12 series was released when Apple officially committed to another 4-5 years of “new design”. 2020 was time for an edgy refresh of the sides of the iPhone. We’ve already discussed how the sharp edges on the upcoming 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max might make it unusable for some people, but the truth is, all iPhone models have the same design.

Android seems ready to jump on the flat edge train wagon, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. To get this out of the way - no, I’m not unhappy when Android copies the iPhone or vice versa. Good design, features, and ideas are more than welcome to be shared between platforms and manufacturers! What I’m not so sure about are other changes that Apple makes to the iPhone, which don’t necessarily influence Android for the better.

Some "blast from the past" examples:

  • The headphone jack - It’s been five years since Apple ditched the 3.5mm audio port. Of course, as you know, other smartphones followed through, and now it’s a rarity to see a smartphone that has a dedicated AUX port.

  • Face ID - Secure 3D unlock was first introduced with the iPhone X. Then, a few Android manufacturers copied this feature, and that’s how we ended up with phones with huge notches when in reality, a fingerprint reader is a much more practical solution. Huawei even had both a UTS fingerprint sensor and 3D face unlock on the Mate 20 Pro when surely one of the two features wasn’t necessary.

  • Pricing - Higher flagship prices? Courtesy of Cupertino. No other company has the power to influence the market with such ease and to such an extent. Who knows... if the iPhone X never came out, we could’ve had an $800 Galaxy S21 Ultra now…

Android & the flat-edge design: Thanks, Apple?!

The truth of the matter is, Apple isn’t solely responsible. They don’t force Google to remove the headphone jack from the Pixel; push Huawei to have an unnecessary 3D unlock feature, or make Samsung price its phones higher. However, everything that Apple does is seen as a:

  1. Challenge for Android manufacturers
  2. Opportunity for Android manufacturers

While in many cases, with many features, this is true, sometimes it’s… you know - just an “Apple thing”. That’s the case with the flat edges on the iPhone. Apple’s been preparing for this “flat” transition for a while. The iPad went flat a long time ago, and even Apple’s computers will have flat edges. However, the problem is that despite looking good and fresh, the flat sides introduce one big problem - especially for bigger phones.

If you’ve tried handling the iPhone 12 Pro Max or even the smaller iPhone 12, you’d know that it can get uncomfortable. Curved sides make for a natural grip that makes even big phones feel usable.

Despite that, we already have our fair share of Android phones that are already released and clearly took inspiration from the iPhone 12. First to jump on board was Huawei with the Nova 8 SE, not even a month after the iPhone 12 series was announced back in October. While it is a China-exclusive (understandable), it is the first Android-powered phone to follow Apple’s lead, so we can’t overlook it.

However, what’s not China-exclusive is Motorola’s latest flagship series - the Moto Edge 20. Motorola launched three devices - the Edge 20 Pro, which is a flagship device, the Edge 20 Lite, which, as you might have guessed, is a mid-range device, and a vanilla Edge 20 model, which sits somewhere in between. 

Namely, the Edge 20 is the one that stands out for its Apple-influenced approach to the sides of the phone. For the record, although being flat, the Edge 20 also pays tribute to other flat-edge phones from the past, like HTC’s iconic One (M7), which had chamfered edges.

However, none of that changes the fact that this is a 6.7-inch device, and we can’t help but compare it to the massive iPhone 12 Pro Max, which conveniently has the same screen size. The iPhone is incredibly difficult to hold and operate with one hand, and the flat edges can make it uncomfortable.

Ideally, big phones simply should be curved on the sides and back, but if we had to pick, we’d go with Motorola’s approach because the Moto Edge 20 (163g) is significantly lighter than the iPhone 12 Pro Max (228g) but taller. Check out our phone size comparison tool if you want to compare the sizes of more phones!

The latest addition to the flat-edge team is Oppo’s brand new beautiful bezel-less phone with an under-the-screen camera. This is a fully working prototype, which is yet to hit the markets. Except for bezel-less, the device is also curve-less. Interestingly, this is not the first Oppo phone in the wild that has flat sides. We already have the Oppo Reno 6 5G (available in India), which is the closest interpretation of the iPhone 12 to date.

Android & Apple’s MagSafe: The next love story?

Apart from that the flat design, the iPhone has magnets now! MagSafe is Apple’s favorite new way of charging an iPhone. In fact, Apple even launched a MagSafe battery pack. And sure enough, some other manufacturers were… influenced.

Realme. That’s the next “victim” of Apple’s aura. Just recently, the company introduced MagDart, which is the first Android alternative to Apple’s MagSafe. MagDart is a magnetic wireless charging system, which interestingly (although not surprisingly) is more powerful than Apple’s MagSafe. It’s also much bulkier, so that’s why Realme also makes a thin MagDart magnetic charger, which looks pretty much like MagSafe.

Of course, the lineup is extended to feature a magnetic power bank, MagDart-compatible cases, and a magnetic wallet, which again is pretty much copy-pasted from Apple’s lineup of MagSafe products. In fact, Realme is so rushed to mimic what comes from Cupertino that the company forgot to launch its first MagDart-compatible smartphone, meaning there’s still no Realme (or Android) phone that can do what the iPhone 12 can. Still, the array of MagDart accessories is a clear sign that such a device is on the way.

In the end…

To wrap it up, we understand and know that influence doesn’t run just in one direction. Apple has been inspired by other brands many times - whether it’s about software or hardware:

  • Widgets
  • Bigger screens
  • Better notification handling (duh!)
  • The app drawer (App Library on iPhone)
  • Night Mode (debuted on Huawei’s P20 series)
  • The list can go on and on...

As mentioned in the beginning, whichever way it goes - it’s great for the customer when the “copy-paste” is for the better. However, although flat sides look beautiful, I don’t think they are the way to go for bigger Android phones. MagSafe, though, is a better shout - it’s innovative and practical.

From now on, I’m convinced we’re going to see more brands and devices riding the iPhone 12 flat-edge. So, Samsung, Xiaomi, OnePlus, and everyone else… Guys, please, if you’re going to do it, make the phones more comfortable. I don’t know - maybe flat sides, but curved edges around the midsection?! Figure it out…

MagSafe is welcome to come to Android, though. Magnets... why not?
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