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HTC defends new handset by reportedly pointing copycat finger at Apple

Technically Incorrect: An HTC executive, stung by reviews suggesting the Taiwanese handset maker's new phone is too similar to the iPhone, reportedly insists that it's Apple who's the copier.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


It looks nothing like an iPhone 6. Or does it? CNET

In the playground of cell phone manufacturers, everyone is ready to point a finger.

Please miss, he stole my idea!

No miss, she stole MINE!

And so the latest episode of this splendid drama occurred in Taiwan on Wednesday.

As Want China Times reports, Jack Tong, president of HTC North Asia, reacted to suggestions in many reviews that the company's new HTC One A9 bears a remarkable similarity to the iPhone 6. Indeed, CNET described it as an "iPhone clone" in our review . "The HTC One A9 looks pretty much identical to the iPhone 6," CNET's Andrew Hoyle wrote.

Tong was hurt, allegedly by other reviews that weren't so kind in their phrasing. "We're not copying. We made a unibody metal-clad phone in 2013," he said. Well, that's settled then. Or not.

"It's Apple that copies us in terms of the antenna design on the back," Tong went on to say. Ah. Can this be true?

Accusations of copying have delighted observers and fanpeople for some years. The most glorious period was surely when Apple and Samsung mesmerized a court with their mutual accusations. I think Apple did well in the end, but not very well. Oh, it's still going on.

Which, to those who enjoy cell phone company mixed martial arts, leaves the notion that there might be another legal battle brewing. Will Apple sue HTC? Might HTC sue Apple? Will it all land in the lap of the drily impatient Judge Lucy Koh? Neither company was immediately available for comment.

Three years ago, HTC and Apple agreed to a 10-year licensing deal and decided to stop all patent litigation. But lawyers can find reasons to break deals if emotions (or money) get in the way.

HTC has made very attractive phones for some time and accompanied them with some terribly peculiar marketing. It's fine to pay Gary Oldman and Robert Downey Jr. a lot of money. But if you put them into ads that are neither memorable nor captivating, it's rather like casting them in a remake of "Mary Poppins," with Oldman in the Julie Andrews role.

Somehow it matters less whether your phone is an original or a blatant copy if no one cares about its existence.

The larger picture, of course, is that cell phones have begun to feel a little like blockbuster movies. There's a lot of noise before they're announced, but when you see them they all feel rather the same.

The only phone that, to my own desperately human eyes, enjoys a taste of something emotionally different is the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ .

One day, our phones will be our laptops, our watches will be our phones and our eyes will need regular treatment to keep them from permanently squinting.

There is something to be gained if a manufacturer could release a phone that genuinely startles the eyes back to life. Even if it happens, I wonder if someone somewhere will claim it was their idea first.