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These crazy new smartphone designs show the iPhone is now a follower as much as it is a trendsetter

These crazy new smartphone designs show the iPhone is now a follower as much as it is a trendsetter

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SAN FRANCISCO (Circa) - There are two new smartphones just announced from Chinese companies Oppo and Vivo that have something in common: both feature pop-up selfie camera systems to let the handsets go more all-screen than any phones before them -- including the notched out iPhone X.

Now, the fact that these two phones aren’t coming to the US hasn’t stopped State-based publications from wowing at their designs and how they’ve – by roughly an inch and half or so – bested Apple.

And that kind of makes you think: Remember when Apple was essentially the only company that could announce a new gadget that would make us go wow?

Cliff Maldonado, founder of BayStreet Research, a firm that's been following smartphone trends since their beginning, explained to Circa that Apple is still the dominant name in the gadget category, but it just does things differently these days.

"So, Apple moves very slowly. People are used to a year or two of not having some features – especially iPhone customers versus Android. Android had bigger screens before Apple did," he said. "But it doesn’t really matter in the short term."

What's happened is that: With so many companies competing in the smart gadget market today, the company that introduced us to the magical single-button smartphone now relies less on being first and more on quality through selection. Apple hopped into the large-screen smartphone category years after Samsung’s Note proved it was a successful form, and that didn’t prevent the iPhone Plus from quickly grabbing top sales in that category, Maldonado gave as an example.

When it comes to besting the screen notch, you can expect Apple to take the same lagging approach – with the idea being that a little extra time can bring a more Apple-type solution to the design problem.

"I’m assuming they don’t want it to have any notches or anything," he assured. "They just want it to be one piece of glass. Can anyone predict how they’ll do it, how those technologies will develop? No."

Of course, there are plenty of smartphone trends and gimmicks Apple has chosen to ignore over the years, which Maldonado believes is equally as important in creating a brand that earns customer trust. With the likely recent addition of the mechanical pop-up camera a la the new Oppo and Vivo phones, that list already includes the stylus, dual screens and even physical keyboards.

None of this is to say that the iPhone doesn’t still get some companies looking its way for inspiration when it does launch a fresh innovation. Take the removal of the headphone jack for example. And even, funny enough, that darn notch.

"I think the Google Pixel 3 is rumored for this fall to have notches, as well," Maldonado smiles. "So it’s becoming standard, and it’s safe to follow Apple."

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