Wood or metal: Motorola's rumored back panel options sound interesting

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| Published: July 12, 2013

Plastic equals cheap, right? That's what we're being led to believe, anyway. It's been a constant tentpole for naysayers with plenty of different devices over the past year and a half or so. If you have a plastic smartphone, then you're automatically not positioned as a truly high-end device. No matter what kind of OS you're running, or what features you've packed into the software. If you've got a plastic phone, just consider yourself somewhere below a select few handsets out there.

I don't think a lot of companies would agree with that, especially the biggest name in the Android Army. Those companies would suggest that while hardware is indeed important, maybe it isn't all about having an aluminum body. Maybe it's not all about the "glass and metal" mindset. Just because your phone is plastic doesn't automatically mean it doesn't fit at the top level of smartphones out there. Nor does it mean that the aluminum and glass phones out there are automatically set at the top of the hill by default. It's about the total package.

But, as my fellow editor Anna pointed out earlier today, design is important. What goes into the phone is important. What manufacturers use to create the phone we'll be using for, theoretically, at least two years is important. We should want to show off our phones, right? Even if that means we have to take it out of a case to do it, at least we're happy to take that case off and let everyone stare at the new device.

That doesn't mean you can't be proud of your plastic device, though. In fact, as I mentioned above, it's about the total package. It isn't just about hardware, and it isn't just about software. Maybe you like the plastic design of a phone simply because it brings you peace of mind. If you drop it, that particularly hard glass and plastic shell means it won't shatter into a million pieces. Peace of mind.

Personally, I do prefer the feel of devices like the HTC One and the iPone 5 over handsets like the Galaxy S 4, or other similar devices. However, that doesn't mean I won't carry a plastic device. It's about the total package, and the Galaxy Note II fits that need for me perfectly. I'll show that phone off because, plastic body and all, I think it's an impressive handset. Software and hardware.

But I could be enticed by other materials that companies like Motorola could be considering to highlight our phones. There's another rumor floating around the Internet right now that's focused on the cosmetic customization of Motorola's upcoming Moto X, and it's a bit surprising this time around. According to the information, Motorola is considering offering wood back panels for the Moto X, along with varying ceramics, metals, and even fabrics. The information suggests that plastic will be the default choice, but those other options will be made available either at launch, or soon after.

Interesting indeed. The customization options for the Moto X seem to be bouncing back and forth again, but this little piece of information is probably the most tantalizing to me. We already know the Moto X is going to have interchangeable plates, but so far it's only looked like it would be different plastic backs, like neon green or something else like that. But to have the options for wood, metals, or even fabrics? That's definitely unique, and will make the Moto X stand out amongst the competition.

And all it would take is for someone to catch it out in public, with a unique wood backing, to start talking about the device and sharing information about it through word of mouth. Motorola may not be weighed down by launch timing at all if they can make the Moto X unique enough on the outside (and inside) to catch people's attention.

And I absolutely do want a wood phone. I always thought the wooden "bamboo" laptops from ASUS last year or so were awesome, even if I never went out of my way to pick one up. If Motorola can figure out how to make the wood, or metal, or ceramic or fabrics back panels not break the bank, they'll definitely be on to something. And it pretty much opens the door to a ridiculous number of options for buyers of the Moto X, without depending on third party case manufacturers.

I hope this piece of information turns out to be true, because I'd love to see how Motorola markets it and prices it. Plus, I want a wooden (backed) phone. I think that'd be pretty cool, and definitely something different. Maybe wood can be the new aluminum? Wood and glass!

So tell me what you think of this rumored plan from Motorola. Do you think you'd buy a wooden phone? What about if you had the option to change from wood, to ceramic, to metal, all depending on your mood or situation? Or, do you think this is just a gimmick that will fall flat for Motorola? Let me know!

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