The HTC One A9 looks a lot like the iPhone, but rather than it being HTC that has been glancing towards Apple’s popular handset in the hope of being inspired, the company says it’s actually the other way around. Apple has been influenced by HTC, and the One A9 is a continued evolution of the smartphone design it created.
It’s not just quietly mentioning this when approached either, it’s making it a big thing. HTC’s president of North Asia operations Jack Tong that has been grabbing headlines most recently. In a local report, Tong is quoted as telling those gathered at a press briefing in Taiwan the following: “We’re not copying. We made a unibody metal-clad phone in 2013. It’s Apple that copies us in terms of the antenna design on the back.”
He’s referring to the HTC One M7, which uses bands at the top and bottom of the metal body for antenna function, the same method Apple adopted with the iPhone 6. Elsewhere in HTC’s world, sensitivity about the whole who-copied-who thing is shining through.
A slide that supposedly comes from an HTC presentation was leaked on the Chinese social network Weibo, showing the One A9 alongside a quote from Hugo Barra — International VP at Xiaomi, and no stranger to defending Apple-like designs — saying, “the iPhone 6 carries design language that is very HTC-like.” According to the source, the slide is part of a training package on the One A9, indicating HTC wanted to be well-prepared when dealing with the accusations it seemingly expected.
The defensive attitude started early. During the first few moments of the One A9’s New York launch, HTC America’s Jason Mackenzie said the company’s design and innovations had been popular with its competitors for a while, mentioning all-metal phones, large screens, and even Android and 4G LTE, and stated they were brought to you “first by HTC.” On Twitter, Mackenzie has called those who claim it’s HTC copying Apple, “history revisionists.” Elsewhere on Twitter, HTC’s global communications manager Jeff Gordon said the iPhone 6 is the lovechild of an HTC One M7 and a Desire 816. “But really, we’re flattered,” he said.
While HTC is making a lot of noise on the subject, Apple is staying very quiet. However, when “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” seems to be the official word on the HTC One A9’s controversial design, it may not stay that way for long.