Apple didn't come up with the notch (which is why there's no Apple patent), it's been around as an idea for a while. The problem is, phone makers were afraid of people not liking asymmetry.
That was overcome by the simple drive for bigger and bigger screens. Hence the removal of physical buttons for software ones.... that hide automatically. Next, they looked at the top, realized a ton of space was used up by those annoying icons, also realized there's space in the middle that's rarely used, and the solution to stretch the screen up and use that space for the camera becomes obvious.
What Apple did do was force acceptance of the notch. Since Apple makes design decisions and their sheep accept it wholesale, the notch went from 'people will hate it' to 'hey, if Apple can get away with it, so can we.'
Don't get me wrong, I'm not hating on it (I have an iPhone XS, full disclosure). I just think it's funny that everyone jumped in the boat as soon as Apple did it. It isn't follow the leader (since they don't lead market share over android worldwide) but at the same time, its downright comical how companies just jump onto everything they do as a whole.
Phone companies know that people are not going to upgrade as frequently as before. The price hikes are a way to pad the balance sheet. Apple will not report unit sales going foward, they too are trying to pivot to 'services', though they'll probably spend a lot of money to be competitive in that sector.
I ended up getting an iPhone 8. I'm not paying a grand for a phone. It makes no sense to me since phone app markets are held back by the lower end phones. I'm also not that impressed with the new "features" like a notch. I had a Oneplus 6t in the cart but what won me over was the smaller size of the iPhone. Hailyn being in my ear to go back to iOS because I don't always get her iMessages on time helped too. I will probably regret it if tmobile gets band 71 in my area but it's not like this is my last phone ever.