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Which Android phone series should copy the iPhone 12's flat design?

We have a few ideas.

Published onJanuary 23, 2021

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max 1
Adam Molina / Android Authority

Whatever you think of the iPhone 12, there’s little doubt that it will influence the design of other phones in the near future. You just have to look at the flurry of notched phones that arrived after the iPhone X as an example. Even though some companies got there first, Apple was the trendsetter. With that in mind, it’s just a question of when an Android phone maker copies the iPhone 4/5 throwback-style, flat design adopted by the latest Apple flagships.

But which Android brands would benefit most from taking inspiration from Cupertino’s latest look? While we certainly wouldn’t expect companies to simply follow Apple’s lead when Android thrives on variety, there are a few vendors that could stand to borrow a page from the iPhone 12’s book. It could not only rejuvenate some major names but address flaws that hold their handsets back.

HUAWEI and HONOR ‘Pro’ phones

HUAWEI Mate 40 Pro close up of home row
Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

Huawei’s phone business may be struggling under the weight of the ongoing US trade ban, but the newly independent HONOR brand is on the rise. Despite their varying fortunes, both Android vendors could stand to learn a thing or two from Apple’s flat design aesthetic.

Opinion: Waterfall displays — another design trend nobody asked for

The two have enthusiastically supported curved screens on their higher-end models, and seemingly to a fault. Witness the sharply curved “waterfall” screens of the Mate 40 Pro and HONOR 30 Pro Plus as examples. They are slippery and even fragile devices precisely because of their curves, and not just due to their displays. An iPhone-like flat design might not be as eye-catching, but it could reel in global Android fans who’ve been wary of premium HUAWEI and HONOR models in recent years.

Xiaomi flagships

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra home screen hidden
Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

Recent higher-end Xiaomi phones like the Mi 10 Pro and the (sadly) China-exclusive Mi 10 Ultra offer tremendous value for the money. However, the emphasis on curvy glass isn’t quite so thrilling. It’s not just that the curves make it harder to hold — it’s that you’ve likely seen those basic design cues on many phones before, even if Xiaomi adds a few flourishes of its own. The company is leaning heavily on its name and spec sheet to win you over.

The Mi 11 is more distinct with its recognizable camera bump and vivid color options, but it’s still another curved slab. A flat design could help Xiaomi stand out in a crowded sea of Android manufacturers while making its phones that much easier to hold.

Nokia 9 PureView successor

Nokia 9 PureView Review

It’s not just curved-screen Android phones that could stand to adopt an iPhone-inspired flat body. If and when there’s a Nokia 9 PureView sequel, it should be on the shortlist.

To put it bluntly, HMD Global’s camera-focused phone was unwieldy. The screen might have been flat, but the combination of a curved back with a glossy glass finish and a large body made it a challenge to hold. And that’s a serious problem for a phone that was all about photography. It’s hard to get a stable shot when you’re worried about dropping your device on the sidewalk. A flat look would help nail those photos.

Related: The best camera phones you can get

For that matter, it might just reinvigorate Nokia’s design language. Although it’s not too difficult to recognize modern Nokias on the street, they’re not nearly as iconic as pre-HMD phones like the N95 or Lumia 1020. A flat appearance wouldn’t turn back time, but it could bring back that signature Nokia quirkiness that seemingly disappeared years ago.

We also shouldn’t forget that the Nokia 9 PureView was very poorly received at launch nearly two years ago. If HMD Global wants to return to the flagship space, a fresh, flat look might erase some of those bad memories.

LG Velvet 2

LG Velvet notch macro

The LG Velvet is a stylish phone. It’s arguably a much-needed reinvention for a company struggling to distance its designs from those of heavyweights like Samsung. Does that mean LG should leave the Velvet alone? We don’t think so.

As we’ve said before, the Velvet is a fashion-forward phone dictated by trends. A Velvet 2 could easily keep up that trendiness by ditching the swooping curves of its predecessor for a flat (but still stylish) chassis. It wouldn’t have to shadow the iPhone all that closely — just borrow enough of those cues to put it at the forefront of Android design circa 2021.

Tell us: What’s your suggestion?

HUAWEI Mate 40 Pro vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro cameras EOY 2020
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

While we have a few ideas for Android phones that ought to lift the iPhone 12’s flat design traits, we can’t possibly cover them all. There’s bound to be a phone you wish would get a makeover, whether it’s a follow-up to the hardware in your pocket or a dream device you’ve been eyeing for some time. Let us know your suggestions in the comments!

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