When Samsung introduced its third-generation Galaxy S smartphone earlier this month, folks immediately took to Twitter, opining how the handset was “designed by lawyers” in a nod at Samsung’s ongoing legal feud with Apple over alleged copying of the iPhone’s hardware design and software features.

Instead, the phone that was “inspired by nature” and “designed for humans”, as the tagline has it, fits in Samsung’s five-year redesign plan and went through hundreds of iterations before they settled on a final design….

The Verge points us to an iNews24 report based on a chat with Samsung design VP Chang Dong-hoon at the 2012 Seoul Digital Forum.

No, he argued, the Galaxy S III wasn’t designed by lawyers, as the popular meme has it.

Fielding questions from reporters, the designer said:

Our change in smartphone design is part of a five-year plan, not a sudden turn-around.

Backing up the claim, he pointed out the handset’s smooth overall curvature and, specifically, the curved shape as a proof that the design team conceived a uniquely-shaped product that has nothing to do with the look and feel of Apple’s iPhone.

Oh, he also said that Samsung has emerged as a market leader in design.

Back in March, Chang Dong-hoon told Reuters that for Samsung’s design team, Apple’s allegations are personal.

Samsung’s flagship Galaxy smartphone lineup is “original from the beginning”, he told the news gathering organization, adding:

As a designer, there’s an issue of dignity. The Galaxy is original from the beginning, and I’m the one who made it. It’s a totally different product with a different design language and different technology infused.

To be completely honest, there are only that many ways one can design a smartphone and just because Samsung’s new darling has a shiny bezel doesn’t mean they ripped off the iPhone.

I owned a Galaxy S II (and now have both an iPhone 4S and a Galaxy Nexus).

In my opinion, the Galaxy S II indeed bears more than a few passing resemblances to Apple’s phone.

But the Galaxy S III looks different and I guess you could stay it stands out on its own as a distinctively designed smartphone.

On a final note, the designer is partially right: Samsung has vastly improved the look and feel of its high-end consumer electronics products (Smart TVs need some work, though).

Personally, I wouldn’t go as far as to call them “a market leader in design”, but they are in fact ahead of most gadget makers in the design department.

I guess you thought I’d never say that, huh?

Credit goes where credit is due, folks.