Suddenly aluminum doesn't seem that great anymore

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| May 23, 2014


Sometimes you have to reassess certain situations just to find out how practical you’re being about something. I’ve been doing just that for a bit recently given my recent experiences with the HTC M8, and the longer I use the phone the more I realize that aluminum may not be all that superior to some other materials on the market after all.


I was ecstatic when I saw the HTC One M7. The aluminum unibody design was so beautiful in my opinion, and held a higher quality of design than any other Android smartphone. The Galaxy S4’s smooth polycarbonate plastic backing had nothing on the One, that was for sure. This phone was superior to all other Androids on the market, and was rivaled only by the iPhone 5 and 5s.


The phone felt good in the hand. It was cool to the touch - not hot like my Galaxy S4 would get. This phone was pretty tanky being made out of aluminum and all. You could drop it, but would it break? It might dent, but at least it wouldn’t crack. I would take dents over cracks any day. The slightly rounded back made for an easier grip, the size was perfect and had a 4.7-inch clear, crisp display. The phone seemed to have it all, but it wasn’t long before I realized that despite the fact that it could fit decently in my hand, I really needed a grippier case if I wanted to be able to hold it consistently.


Aluminum, as pretty as it may be, also happens to be a very slick and slippery material; therefore, aluminum isn’t exactly great for practical smartphone handling.


I don’t have any weird ailments that make it hard for me to hold a phone. I don’t get sweaty palms, have chronic butter fingers, or anything like that. I like to think that I have a decent grip on things most of the time, but that phone somehow always managed to slip unexpectedly out of my hands more often than I could count. At that point, I needed the case. My One would be covered by a case for the rest of its use.


Yet, somehow I managed to forget all of that when it came to the M8. Perhaps it’s just me being a woman and therefore distracted by all things shiny, but the mostly aluminum design of the new HTC One once again put this phone leagues ahead of others when it came to design. When it comes down to physical beauty, I do think that the luster of aluminum gives this phone a bit of an edge over competing products. Once again, though, the fact of the matter is that aluminum just isn’t that practical for phones. Whether you can hold the phone comfortably in your hand or not, a grip is always a useful tool.


Fortunately, HTC wouldn’t have to completely give up the aluminum bit in order to make their phone easier to hold. The sides of the phone are just thick enough to feature a different, more grippable material. Of course, the back offers plenty of room for an alternative material to be featured in order to give users some control over the hold of the device. Maybe it wouldn’t be as pretty or consistent with breaks in the aluminum, but I think it would be nice to be able to use the phone “naked” from time to time, so to speak, rather than always having a bulkier case over it. As it stands right now when it comes to the One, though, the material is just too slippery to make it work.


And that’s how I realized that while aluminum may be gorgeous, I’m starting to realize that it’s just not all I’ve cracked it up to be at this point - not when it comes to covering the entire phone, that is.


Images via Android Central, Digital Trends