Side-By-Side Comparison: Samsung vs. iOS Homescreen Icons


Screen shot 2011-04-19 at 8.37.05 PM

Earlier today, we linked former Engadget editor Nilay Patel’s incredible breakdown of the Apple vs. Samsung lawsuit, largely to discuss Apple’s sales numbers for iPod Touches and iPads and the like.

We thought, though, that Patel’s most compelling argument that Apple was in the right was worth its own post: check out the “borrowing” Samsung did from iOS for their TouchWiz homescreen icons.

We’d realized, of course, that Samsung’s icons had been “inspired” by Apple, but putting them side-by-side really just makes the theft look totally shameless. How does a company like Samsung think it’s cool to openly rip-off one of its biggest customers like that? I’m shocked it took Apple this long to sue.

  • Owen Conner

    They don’t even look alike besides for the phone, contacts, and iTunes icons.

  • Another unsubscriber

    A phone in the icon?! A pad of notes for the notes?! YOU DON’T SAY BROWNLEE. OH THE HUMANITY.

    Man you really are a low point on this blog.

  • Alexander530

    Shame on Samsung. They clearly ripped Apple off.

  • UndefinedAJ

    I’m the biggest Apple fan that I know of but this is ridiculous. Those icons look nothing alike. Apple may have a point on some of the hardware, but not the software.

  • Jdsonice

    Huh? Samsung has copied every icon. Are you seriously saying that these icons from Samsung are their own original work?

  • Jdsonice

    Huh? Samsung has copied every icon. Are you seriously saying that these icons from Samsung are their own original work?

  • UndefinedAJ

    Are you blind?? Look at the settings icons. Those look alike?? The photos? The notes? Fix your eyes dude.

  • Khrbt Zyd

    I’m a huge Apple fan, but thinking about it realisticll: for a phone app, a “phone” is the only thing you can really use to represent that app. Same as a notepad for notes, gears for settings.. A flower for photos is pretty generic, same as the contact book, but I wouldn’t call it theft. Music to iTunes is the only thing that could really provoke a copyright infringement lawsuit. That’s only speaking icons, not software or hardware though.

  • Khrbt Zyd


  • JonathanRWegner

    This demonstrates incredibly lazy design on Samsung’s part. By this I’m not commenting on the similarity of the iconography — as mentioned by ZydKhrbt, a phone will look like a phone, so no need to reinvent the shorthand that icons provide. Rather that the icons do not look like an integrated suite. It’s like Samsung raided the clip-art library and simply grabbed what was available. Had Samsung’s GUI designers developed a discreet design style and direction I don’t believe we’d be having this conversation right now.

  • wilburg

    I can’t believe all of this silliness over icons! I guess that for the telephone app, Samsung should use, I dunno, maybe a helicopter. Of course the icons for these apps are going to be similar if they are to convey their meaning to the user. Unlike the author, I’m not shocked that “it took Apple so long to sue”, but because Apple even bothers. Who the hell is going to mistake a Samsung “smartphone” for an iPhone? Is it even remotely likely that Samsungs choice of icons is going to affect Apple’s bottom line even one cent? Not very stinking likely!!

  • Jack

    This seems extremely weak.
    So you used a phone for a phone icon? Why wouldn’t you?
    A word bubble for messaging? Apple doesn’t own that idea; comic books have been doing it since the 1930s. By that argument, Apple owes some cash to Detective Comics or EC.
    And a gear for settings? That’s pretty standard. IOS not withstanding, World of Warcraft has been using a gear for settings / action since 2004.

    I love Apple products. This, however, is a joke. Is there a phone out there that doesn’t use a phone for the icon for … you know … a phone?
    Personally, though, I’d love a phone icon that looks like an old-timey standup phone where you talk into the base and hold the conical earpiece up to your head. Now you’re talking!

  • Tcrescon

    Come on guys. A tablet is always going to be a piece of rectangular hardware , with a mic a cam etc. all that stuff is generic an nothing to get a patent for. it is like trying to get a patent for a smiley..

  • GrimWit

    This is just ridiculous and a big waste of time and money. First App Store and now icons… time to throw out another “bad apple”

  • Sahanatrymytech

    Since Samsung is the chip maker for Apple…what might be the outcome…and these apps looks very similar to me…

  • Jeremy Washington

    no they dont

  • gorgeousninja

    You must remember that for many people the very fact that its Apple, means that they have absolutely no right to try and protect their own unique designs.

    Of course the icons look similar, so too does the whole phone, but still there are some who will say anything rather than give even the smallest amount of credit to Apple..

    See how many try and incorporate the word ‘generic’.

    It’s sad obviously but these people are shameless….

  • gorgeousninja

    So because Apple has the best design ideas first, does everyone then have complete access to use them?…
    A flower for photo’s is pretty ‘generic’ (here we go with that word again)…
    bet you would never have said that before the iPhone…

    Intellectual Property rights people, this is business…

  • gorgeousninja

    blatantly ignoring the truth does not in fact make you Apple’s biggest fan..
    it makes you someone who at best needs to see an optician….

  • gorgeousninja

    hmmmm… so even taking into account that you must be half blind, does that then make it all right then?

  • Janne

    It kinda reminds me of some other device, but I can’t quite put my finger on it….

  • gareth edwards

    OK, so as a designer I understand that there are generally only a handful of suitable answers when it comes to designing symbols. Symbols are like language, they have to follow specific routes or themes to clearly explaining the meaning of the symbol to the widest audience which is why some of the symbols look the same/similar. This is fair and acceptable in my opinion.

    What’s not acceptable and this is where Apple’s case is coming from, is that the entire look and feel of both the software front end (including symbols), the hardware and the packaging ALL look similar to that used by Apple for their iPhone.

    There was a case in the UK some years back where Sainsbury’s (a supermarket) launched a cola. The cola they launched tasted remarkably like the product from Coca Cola (which annoyed Coke) but the final straw was that they also designed the packaging to ape that of Coka Cola. Unsurprisingly, Sainsbury’s got hammered and had to do a lot of changing around.

    Personally I don’t like all this suing done between top tech companies, it’s childish in most cases and easy to laugh at but I’m not sure about this case.

    If someone was copying my design work wholesale, I would want to take the culprit to task so I suppose in this case I’m with Apple. Be interesting to see how the case goes.

  • Aiden

    try overlaying an iphone display over it =)

  • JeeBee

    The only major similarity is the use of a sunflower on the photos app icon.
    The green on the phone icon is because many phones used to have green on the ‘accept call’ button (and red on the ‘end/decline call’ button).

    Cogs are frequently used for settings application icons, and that icon is quite different.

    The address book icon is completely different.

    The Apple icons are more consistent overall, and better looking.

  • WVMikeP

    What’s evident to me is that it looks like a developer created Samsung’s icons. Hack jobs, at best.

  • WVMikeP

    You’re seeing what many other commenters aren’t: the big picture.

  • Dilbert A


  • Dilbert A

    yes they do times two.

  • Dilbert A

    were you going to give a reason you think apple shouldn’t protect their ip, trademarks, and patents, or are you just commenting out of an irrational anger towards spoiled fruit?

  • Dilbert A

    there are patents for smilies, but that’s not what apple is suing Samsung over. read the lawsuit.

  • Dilbert A

    “It’s no coincidence that Samsung’s latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging. This kind of blatant copying is wrong, and we need to protect Apple’s intellectual property when companies steal our ideas.”

    “Rather than innovate and develop its own technology and a unique Samsung style for its smart phone products and computer tablets, Samsung chose to copy Apple’s technology, user interface and innovative style in these infringing products,”

    Jack, what you really need to ask yourself is do you believe in ip.

  • Dilbert A

    o, for God sake. its not just icons.

    read the lawsuit.

    hell read the summary.

  • Dilbert A


  • Dilbert A


  • Anonymous

    The lawsuit isn’t about icons, but this story is, and as the OP suggested, it’s ridiculous. Please suggest alternative icons for the following: phone, chat, notepad, contacts, settings, music. The only ones that are even debatably derivative are the flower for representing pictures (although the icons don’t look the same) and the musical note + CD for representing whatever that represents. They probably should have left it at just a musical note.

    Still, if Apple wins this lawsuit, it will be a horrible precedent. Do we really want to live in a world where things that look similar are automatically infringing? Uh oh, my ViewSonic monitor looks an awful lot like my Dell monitor. Better bust out the lawyers.

  • PlogCF

    Funny how Samsung is shameless, and not the other way around…

    Funny how Samsung copied Apple, and not the other way around. Looks like Apple’s been warming up THEIR photocopiers lately.

    But no, your point is completely sensible–that Apple has the right to protect other company’s designs, and claim patents over what other people have made, too.

    So much for innovation. Take a bite of that…Apple. :P

  • PlogCF

    Shame on Apple, they shamelessly ripped off Samsung, and claimed their design for themselves. On top of that, they are now suing Samsung for what they stole from them in the first place.

  • Iamhusky

    these companies are always “inspired” by each other, so why bother with the lawsuit? At the end of the day, Apple does have the better design, and the winning result reflects on the sales, that’s all~

  • SgbN

    Ok, without looking at the icons and before even knowing the icons… what would an icon be for “making a call” does it have to be same diagonal and color? ; how about “photos” flower? even the same kind? ; “settings” gear? before iphones it was wrench or some basic tool.
    Similar would be nice but not almost the same? Look at the other company ‘coz they copyrighted it already or something like that.

  • gorgeousninja

    nice try but sadly those annoying things called facts mean that you are hopelessly wrong….

    funnily enough this is from an android site…

  • Dilbert A

    Zen, i don’t see the lawsuit as being just about having similar icon.

    its just like apple stated in their lawsuit, all the copying that Samsung has done in the UI, hardware, and packaging is stealing sales from apple, and hurting their brand with the sub-par presentation under Andriod.

    i believe that it has had a financial impact on apple, and its just plain crass on the part of Samsung.

  • IvaT

    They can use a telephone, but does it have to be just the handset, tilted, with a green background?  Nope, hence the copying.

  • Jens

    The Messaging icon allegedly from Touchwiz is not the right one. The Touchwiz icon bears no resemblance to the iOS one. The one presented is a stock Android icon and has been completely removed from Samsung phones. 

    Can I also add that the flower for the gallery icon on TouchWiz is not a sunflower and his been used on several other samsung phones for years. Not sure if it has been an icon though… but they have used that yellow flower a lot.

    I think this icon business is silly, although I still don’t understand why Samsung went for a single centred home button on the Galaxy S phones. To me that is really the only clearly copied feature.

  • J. Peterman

    I’m just wondering… how many different icons could you come up with for messaging that still obviously means “Messaging” at first glance?

  • tawster

    Apple notoriously steals designs from others. They have since the beginning. So I have little patience for this stuff. Yes, you have to protect your design, but they are hypocritical here… but then again, most of the large companies are in one form or another.

    By the way, I have a Samsung Galaxy (Epic 4G). It is a *stellar* phone.

  • busdude555