Should Samsung go from ?cheap and plastic? to ?metal and fantastic??

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: April 13, 2013

The Galaxy S II, Galaxy S III, Note, Note II, Galaxy S 4, and pretty much every other Samsung device ever made all have one thing in common with each other: their housing is made out of plastic. While plastic isn't necessarily a "flimsy" material when used correctly, you can bet that there is much stronger material that can make up the body of a smartphone. Samsung is often criticized for making "cheap" feeling phones (something I am guilty of) but would they really benefit from switching to aluminum as their main housing element?

According to an insider who spoke with SamMobile, Samsung very well may be ditching the signature plastic-look Samsung employs on the majority of their devices and go for a more “premium” look when it comes to the production of the Galaxy Note III - something that Samsung fans may or may not be excited to see should it come to fruition.

While the article didn't explain exactly what build material Samsung planned on using for the Galaxy Note III, I think we can safely presume the material would be some type of metal. The article did mention that a metal Galaxy S 4 design was in the works and was approved internally, but since the company couldn’t mass-produce it at the time the idea was scrapped in favor of yet another plastic design.

From time to time I end up debating myself in my articles. I'll say one thing in one article and a few days/weeks/months later I'll turn around and change my own opinion. This may or may not be the case right now, because as often as I've said that Samsung should change their build quality I’m not sure if it will really have much of an impact on customers. While plastic isn’t the type of build I prefer in a smartphone, not everyone is as picky as proven by our very own Chase Bonar who made a convincing article stating that not everybody needs that “premium” feel to their device. Readers made similar arguments that people are just going to put cases on their smartphones anyway (unless you're one of those precarious users who live life on the edge) so what does it matter what material the phone is made out of? I’m somewhat starting to agree.

At the same time, it would be nice to see a Samsung device encased in some type of metal. Not only does it add a little more heft to it, but it also seems to be more protective of a phone's components overall depending on who you ask. However, for the people that are satisfied with plastic housing, Samsung should cater to them as well and continue making plastic the main frame of the device.

Plastic is not always so bad. I mean, look at the Nokia Lumia 920. If it wasn’t already being used as a smartphone it could totally be used as a tank. It's the most "beastified" use of polycarbonate I've ever seen. I mean, the phone is chunky as ever, but I’ll take chunky and tanky over flimsy and fragile any day. Now if only Samsung could figure out how to use plastic to its advantage then things might not be a big deal.

The only other element I'm concerned about if Samsung ultimately decides to use metal in place of plastic is pricing. If Samsung already prices their devices in the same range as other “premium” devices like the HTC One and Apple's iPhone, then how will their own “premium” devices be priced? I imagine they’ll be priced around that same $199 range, but we’ve seen some crazy prices come from crazy places before and metal does cost more than plastic. It’s definitely something to keep an eye on.

I think making the switch to metal is a good move from Samsung as long as it’s there as a diversifying element. As stated before, some people just like their phones to feel lighter. But people also like choices, and having some phones being made with a more quality element like metal will surely cause some who brush off the classic plastic design to turn their heads in Samsung’s direction.

Readers, what are your opinions? Would Samsung benefit from diversifying the materials in which they make their phones? If you aren’t a Samsung fan now, would this change your mind? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!