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There’s often a fine line between inspiration and blatant ripoff. Based on its latest smartphone announcement, it seems that Xiaomi doesn’t care about that line at all.
The Chinese smartphone manufactured just unveiled their Xiaomi CC9 handset lineup. It’s a pretty standard mid-range Android flagship, with a 6.39-inch OLED display, a Snapdragon 710 and a triple-camera setup.
Xiaomi also expanded its existing “Mimoji” characters, which previously featured only animal avatars, with new customizable human options.
While the name of Xiaomi’s avatars echo Apple’s own Memoji, the OEM has taken its not-that-subtle Apple inspiration to another level.
Take a look at the new Mimoji characters. Notice anything … vaguely familiar?
To be clear, Apple wasn’t the first company to debut customizable animated emoji characters. And the Cupertino tech giant doesn’t even own the trademark for the Memoji name.
But Xiaomi’s new human avatars are uncannily similar to Apple’s — right down to the overall design and color palette. That, combined with the fact they’re called Mimoji, is getting the new feature some unwanted attention.
Xiaomi, for its part, denies that its Mimoji are a clone of Apple’s feature. The company issued a statement to Gizmochina claiming that the company first debuted its Mimoji characters in May 2018 — about a month before Apple announced its Memoji.
The smartphone maker is even reportedly threatening legal action against people in China for pointing out the similarities between Mimoji and Memoji.
But Xiaomi has long had a reputation for “borrowing” from Apple. The company’s cofounder even wore a Steve Jobs-esque outfit — complete with jeans and black turtleneck — during some announcement events, as this New York Times piece from 2013 shows.
More than that, Android manufacturers have always seemingly looked to Apple for inspiration. Consider the wave of notch-equipped Android devices that surfaced after the iPhone X, or this internal Samsung document that’s basically a guide to making the Galaxy more like an iPhone.
It’s hard to fault Android manufacturers for that — and imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery. But it’s safe to say that Xiaomi’s new line of handsets, with their Mimoji characters, may not see a general release in the U.S.