Ex-Android chief declares iPhone 6 ‘the most beautiful smartphone ever built’

Hugo Barra, former Android chief, now works at Xiaomi. Photo: Xiaomi

Hugo Barra, former Android chief, now works at Xiaomi. Photo: Xiaomi

Hugo Barra, the man who once ran Google’s Android division, seems to have more of an interest in the smartphones its rivals are making these days. Speaking at WSJD Live, Barra called Apple’s new iPhone 6 “the most beautiful smartphone ever built” — but he doesn’t think its design language is totally unique.

Now vice president for Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer Xiaomi, Barra was responding to a question regarding the persistent claims that his new company has a penchant for copying Apple’s designs, The Verge reports.

We’ve compared the likenesses between products like the Mi 4 and the iPhone 5s, the Mi Pad and the iPhone 5c, and the Mi Router Mini and the Magic Trackpad in the past. But Barra feels that Xiaomi is doing nothing wrong. He insists that the company’s product engineers are simply inspired by great design — just like all the others.

“Our designers, our engineers are inspired by great products — and frankly, in today’s world, who isn’t?” Barra said. “Point me to a product in our industry that has completely unique design language. You’re not going to be able to find one.”

Even the iPhone 6 “carries design that’s very HTC-like,” Barra added. “Of course, with an astonishing twist … but it is somewhat familiar design language.”

Barra did concede, however, that because Xiaomi’s product designers are young, their work can sometimes resemble existing products. “We’re learning and progressing,” he said, before promising “some unique new twists” for future products.

Barra also pointed out during his interview that many of Apple’s most recent iOS features were inspired by those from rival operating systems. Referring to Control Center, Barra said the quick settings toggles on iOS are “much better” than those on Android, “but it was on Android [long before].”