Picture an iPhone in your mind. OK, now picture any other smartphone out there. Visualize this other smartphone until you have a really clear image of it. Got it? OK, good.

My guess is that whichever smartphone you pictured—regardless of the brand or manufacturer—it has a touchscreen, a built-in accelerometer, and rows of glassy-looking icons with a wallpaper photo behind them. I also bet that you flick the screen with your finger to move through your photos, right? Even though it’s not an iPhone, it still works and even looks like an iPhone.

Apple did it so right when they introduced the original iPhone that nearly every new smartphone or tablet that comes out today is just another copy of what Apple has already done. But there’s an ...

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