Luo Yonghao: We Do Feel Awkward That M1 and M1L Resemble iPhone, Especially Since Smartisan’s Known For Great Design

What does Smartisan’s two new flagship smartphones M1 and M1L look like? What story do Smartisan’s founder Luo Yonghao and CTO Wu Dezhou have about their design? What’s Mr. Luo’s attitude towards endless rumors about Smartisan’s acquisition?

Finally, Smartisan released its next-gen smartphones. During the three-hour long new product release conference, Smartisan Technology released two new models: Smartisan M1 and M1L. In Smartisan’s previous press conference, most people cared more about Smartisan’s founder Mr. Luo Yonghao’s monologue than the product that were released. However, people seemed to be more enthusiastic about the product this time.

Although Smartisan adopts a circular home button for both devices, which makes them resemble iPhone a lot (some internet users jokingly refer to these two devices as “the Chinese smartphones that resemble iPhone the most”), it manages to equip the two new devices with high specs for the first time and brings out innovation in several aspects.

The two new devices were sold out on all major channels (around 500,000) soon after the new product release conference.

For the first time, Luo Yonghao and Smartisan’s CTO Wu Dezhou accepted an interview after the new product release conference.

Previously, Wu Dezhou was head of Huawei Honor series Beijing R&D team and had fifteen years of experience in smartphone R&D. Mr. Wu joined Smartisan this May and brought with him a team of thirty R&D experts. It is he who helps Smartisan develop two parallel product lines at the same time.

In the interview, Mr. Luo was very frank about how he spent seven months trying to poach Mr. Wu and even persuaded him to move from Shanghai to Beijing. Besides, Mr. Luo revealed that everything was well dealt with when former CTO Qian Chen left.

Bound by confidentiality agreements, Mr. Luo declined to reveal any detail about public-concerned issues such as Smartisan’s cash flow and investment status. However, he said that he was very much annoyed by rumors about Smartisan’s acquisition.

“My colleagues often show me this or that rumor and I wouldn’t care much most of the time as long as there isn’t any actual damage to us. However, I am very much annoyed by these rumors because our suppliers will worry if we are going to be acquired too. Thus, I’ll have to ask their bosses to dinner and tell them time after another that we are not acquired by any company.”

Although Smartisan has discarded all these rumors, Mr. Luo admitted that many companies would approach him and look for opportunities for investment or acquisition. He added that he would announce to the public once there are any new move.

Speaking of the similarity of M1 and M1L’s home button to iPhone’s, Mr. Luo revealed that they had planned to use three circular home buttons, but later gave up the idea due to various reasons.

“For example, we had planned to adopt a very beautiful three-circle design, but when we try to make a model, we found that if we used three cavate but smooth buttons, it would look very weird; if we use three flat buttons, the smartphone would look very low-end.”

Later, they decided to use a “two stick and one circle” design. Mr. Luo said that the design looked very similar to black gauze cap, one that officials of the Chinese Ming Dynasty often wears. However, they did some survey and decided to give up the design again. It is only till then that they decided to adopt the current design that has only one circular button.

“Since Smartisan is known for our special design, we do feel awkward that the final product resembles iPhone. However, we failed to find a better and more feasible design. Still, we are prepared to be criticized by the public for the lack of originality.”

Indeed, there’s heated discussion about M1 and M1L’s resemblance to iPhone. Nevertheless, over 500,000 smartphones Smartisan prepared for all major online channels were sold out soon after the new product release conference.

During the interview, Mr. Luo and Mr.De also revealed that they’d already been developing the next generation product and they would release some new products next spring.


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[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @TMTpost-Chinese please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]

Translated by Levin Feng (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.

(Chinese Version)

Originally published at on October 22, 2016.

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