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LG becomes latest OEM to say it didn't copy Apple with notch design

LG's mobile chief says the company "planned the notch design before Apple," and a 2016 patent backs up the claim.
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By
May 4, 2018
LG G7 ThinQ
TL;DR
  • LG’s mobile division CEO Hwang Jeong-hwan says the company “planned the notch design before Apple.”
  • The announcement arrives after the launch of the LG G7 ThinQ, which features a display notch like the iPhone X.
  • An LG patent that surfaced last year verifies that the company had its own display notch as far back as 2016.

LG’s mobile division chief Hwang Jeong-hwan has spoken out against suggestions that it copied Apple’s iPhone X design on its recently revealed flagship, the LG G7 ThinQ. “We planned the notch design before Apple,” said Hwang at an LG G7 ThinkQ launch event in Seoul yesterday (via The Investor).

The notch is the name given to the cutout at the top portion of a display that typically includes the front-facing camera, speaker, and other sensors. Though it allows for a larger screen area, the feature has been a controversial subject in the smartphone industry after it was popularized on the Apple iPhone X. It has nonetheless made its way onto numerous Android phones.

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LG reportedly surveyed more than 1,000 people across the US, UK, Italy, and Korea in order to gauge the notch’s appeal prior to the G7 ThinQ release. Apparently, “only 30%” were against it, and the rest said they liked or didn’t mind it.

While it’s easy for LG to make claims that it wasn’t entirely influenced by Apple in hindsight, there is at least some evidence backing up LG’s statement. An LG patent from 2016 revealed a smartphone design with a display cutout around the top speaker — just like what we now refer to as the notch.

LG smartphone design patent with notch

LG isn’t the only company to claim it arrived at the notch before Apple, as Chinese manufacturer Huawei also said it had the idea years before the iPhone X release. Li Changzhu, vice-president of Huawei’s smartphone product line, said Huawei missed its chance to pioneer the idea because it was “too conservative and cautious.”

Manufacturers have been working on larger smartphone displays on smaller bodies for years. The notion that the screen could, at some point, surround the top sensors must have been considered by many companies prior to last year’s iPhone X and Essential Phone.

The trouble is, once an Android handset displays a feature recently seen on a recent iPhone, the comparison is inevitably going to come up — whether that Android manufacturer deliberately waited for Apple to popularize it or not.

For more on the LG G7 ThinQ, check out our recent hands-on coverage at the link.