Excursions by Amit Gawande

How China Rips Off the iPhones and Reinvents Android

But what is true today is that not all Chinese phone software is bad. And when it is bad from a Western perspective, it’s often bad for very different reasons than the bad Android skins of the past. Yes, many of these phones make similar mistakes with overbearing UI decisions — hello, Huawei — and yes, it’s easy to mock some designs for their obvious thrall to iOS. But these are phones created in a very different context to Android devices as we’ve previously understood them.

The Chinese phone market is a spiraling behemoth of innovation and audacity, unlike anything we’ve ever seen. If you want to be on board with the already exciting hardware, it’s worth trying to understand the software.

What Chinese smartphones offer is the feature parity in hardware with high-end devices from well-known brands, like Apple, Samsung, at a price which is affordable to the mainstream market. It is difficult to convince someone to buy an iPhone when all the devices are presented along with their specs. Doesn’t matter then if the software experience is ripped off.

What I feel is troubling though and a thing that gets neglected is the durability of these devices. The maximum life of these is what the warranty is - typically an year. Most often, these devices start failing at performance or battery or overall system level even before it hits that period. And when it does, there always are new cheaper devices to replace them with.

This will never get covered by reviews — because reviewers move on to the new, shiny devices in a week or two. It’s the mainstream that suffers. However, brands that overcome this behaviour outlive ones that fade away sooner.

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