When Samsung unveiled its new flashship smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S6, in Barcelona last week it was obvious to everyone that the device was modelled on the all-conquering Apple iPhone 6.

The Samsung designers has embarked on ‘project zero’ to reinvent the design aesthetic of the Galaxy – so called because the slate had been cleaned and everything was up for grabs.

Well it seems that the blue sky thinking that the Samsung design team were striving for came straight from Apple’s iPhone 6 blueprints.

  • Aluminium case with a brushed metal finish
  • Combined home button with fingerprint sensor (tap not swipe)
  • Rounded – or ‘chamfered’ – corners
  • Speakers, connector and headphone ports in same configuration (see above for a comparison)
  • Plastic antenna bands
  • Built-in, non-replaceable battery
  • Protruding camera assembly
  • White moulded earbuds

Even the set-up process for the fingerprint sensor is a direct steal from the Touch ID configuration, right down to the animation that is used, as this video from Phandroid makes clear (“it’s almost exactly like they do it on the iPhone *laughs nervously*“)

The most bitter, twisted and one-eyed Apple hater can see that Samsung has obviously ripped off the iPhone 6’s design aesthetic in both hardware and software. So why have the tech sites not been up in arms and called Samsung out on this?

Reactions range from the arch acknowledgement of a design debt to Apple – “by fortunate coincidence, the resulting design direction has more than a smidgen of iPhone about it,” noted Stuff.

Other sites refuse to acknowledge the larcenous elephant in the room at all: “Although the design seems to be somewhat inspired by other devices on the market, the industrial and material design is a massive step forward from everything else we’ve seen from Samsung before,” splutters the tech bible Anandtech. 

In our not-entirely-scientific survey of 17 tech websites, we found just 6 had the guts to point the finger at Samsung’s daylight robbery. 3 sites made passing mention of it, using phrases such as ‘at first glance’ as protective shielding while 8 flatly denied the evidence in front of them.

Our take on what caused this mass wave of severe myopia?

The clue is in the title of most of these articles – they are all variants on ‘first look’ review or ‘hands on’ review.This is well-known SEO (search engine optimisation) fodder for sites trying to get traction for the term ‘review’ while grudgingly acknowledging that they’ve only had hold of the device for a few minutes.

If the sites want to follow up with a full review, they will be relying on Samsung’s PR operation to supply review samples of the Galaxy S6. Call us cynical, call us jaded, but we strongly suspect that the delicate tip-toeing around the truth is a deliberate ploy to ensure that these sites get hold of the hardware down the line.

At which point, the reviewers may have regrown their collective pairs of eyeballs. And balls.

Publication Mention Apple iPhone 6? Calls out Samsung? Sample extract?
Verge Yes Yes Samsung has be known to copy Apple’s design before, which led to record sales and record-breaking lawsuits. It’s hard to say if the Galaxy S6 will bring about any lawsuits, but the similarities between it and the iPhone 6 are undeniable.
Android Central Yes Yes Yes, from below, the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6 share some serious visual similarities. In that, they’re machined out of aluminum and have machined holes for the 3.5mm headphone jack, a center-mounted USB or lightning port, and holes for speaker grilles drilled into the right side. There are even the Apple-style plastic-filled stripes that break it up into visual segments and a color-matched chrome-ringed home button. From the bottom you might think that the Galaxy S6 is another version of the iPhone.
Ars Technica Yes Yes The metal sides of the S6 are now curved, which makes it look and feel a lot like an iPhone 6.
Stuff Yes Yes By fortunate coincidence, the resulting design direction has more than a smidgen of iPhone about. But comparisons are the lowest form of flattery, or however the saying goes…. Were it not for the bendy screen smarts of the S6 Edge, we’d be disputing Samsung’s enthusiastic use of the word ‘innovation’ – and no doubt Apple fans will be quick to shout ‘copycat’ at any forum that will receive them.
The Guardian Yes Yes In an upmarket tilt, Samsung has replaced the plastic casings of old with metal, including a gold version whose tones bear more than a passing resemblance to the gold edition of the iPhone.
Redmond Pie Yes Yes The problem is, much of that aesthetic has been ripped from Apple’s playbook. You don’t need to have been paying attention to MWC too closely today to see that everyone agrees that Samsung’s two new Galaxies look rather iPhone 6-like in a range of ways, even down to the iPhone’s antenna lines that we suspect many potential Galaxy S6 owners mocked mercilessly. Will that stop them from picking up a new S6?
CNET Yes Sort Of Some of the new S6 features — upscale metal design, updated fingerprint scanner — play catch-up with the iPhone 6
9 to 5 Mac Yes Sort Of Some people have been quick to point out that it appears to be a cross between iPhone 6 and iPhone 4, but honestly, I’m just happy Samsung ditched the plastic builds found on previous generation smartphones.
InfoWorld Yes Sort Of At first glance, each Galaxy S6 looks like a love child of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 5s, with its metal and glass case, understated design, and choice of interesting colors. It’s certainly fair to say the Galaxy S6 models were inspired by the iPhone 6 and 5s, but they’re no mere copies. Samsung finally seems to have learned that a product’s feel is important — and to find its own way to deliver on it.
Tech Radar Yes No The key thing here though is, it appears that power is not there for the sake of it – each element has a purpose, to ensure the Galaxy S6 works well under the finger while finally being a phone you’d consider alongside an HTC or iPhone.
Trusted Reviews Yes No Looking closely at the S6’s slightly bevelled edge, it seems to have been influenced by the Galaxy Alpha, but some will undoubtedly say it looks too much like an iPhone. I don’t necessarily agree, though. The fine detail on the S6 is on another level.
Android Authority Yes No As far as similarities between the device? While both are premium devices with similarly placed buttons, ports, headphone jacks, and speakers, and even the fact that the camera module on both devices protrude a little bit, both phones take different approaches when it comes to pushing aesthetics to the next level. For Apple, metallic unibody is the name of the game, while Samsung keeps its traditional design language, while giving it a healthy dose of premium materials.
Know Your Mobile Yes No Apple usually gets all the praise for its focus on design and the painstaking attention it pays to every aspect of its hardware. But these new devices from Samsung really are stunningly beautiful, more so than both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
BGR Yes No Leaks and rumors leading up to today’s Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge unveiling made the S6 out to be a blatant iPhone copycat. While there are some things that bear an unmistakable resemblance to Apple’s smartphone lineup, Samsung’s new flagship is actually quite unique.
Expert Reviews Yes No Memories of a plastic build will be vanquished and Samsung now has the best-looking and best-made Android phone, and it looks to have completely overtaken the HTC One m9; even iPhone 6 owners will be sorely tempted by this handset.
GSM Arena Yes No Developed under the codename Project Zero, Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge are a massive leap forward for the popular flagship smartphone family. As usual, the devices are brimming with high-end tech but this time around they have a mature enough design language to complement them.
AnandTech Yes No Although the design seems to be somewhat inspired by other devices on the market, the industrial and material design is a massive step forward from everything else we’ve seen from Samsung before. In general, it seems that Samsung has managed to put together a device that can truly compete with devices like the One M9 and iPhone 6 in every aspect

 

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Mat Toor is the oldest man working in Old Street, the location of Phone Cruncher Towers. He remembers when it was all fields... Mat has worked in technology and mobile for over 20 years, including stints at the Financial Times, Dennis Publishing and Sony. While at Dennis Publishing he launched KnowYourMobile.com in 2007 - which has gone on to become the UK's leading mobile website. He reckons that he can get lightning to strike twice with Phone Cruncher - and he's got the team to prove it.

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