Dear Samsung, please don’t mess up usability in favor of making metallic phones

Samsung’s smartphones have always been heavy-hitters in the market when it comes to sales figures, with millions of consumers preferring to buy the company’s phones over the competition. Whether that is because they have been blinded by Samsung’s galactically powerful marketing machine, or whether they simply like using Galaxy phones and feel familiar with them, is something that can be argued all day long without anyone reaching any conclusion.

However, while millions have taken a liking (or a habit) to Samsung smartphones, quite a few have taken to criticizing the company for using plastic on their devices every chance they get. With devices like the HTC One and, of course, Apple’s iPhone, people have been clamoring for Samsung to start making smartphones that have a premium feel, constantly arguing that the company needs to start using metal, at least on its flagship phones. Samsung hasn’t yet listened, instead opting for a fake leather material on the Galaxy Note 3 and, since the Galaxy S5, a similar material with a dotted pattern that makes the back of the device look like a golf ball.

However, rumors of a Galaxy S5 Prime have been indicating for months that Samsung is finally going to cave in and bring out a metallic smartphone, fulfilling the wishes (and addressing the hatred and criticism) of many out there that have grown tired of the company’s continued use of cheap-feeling plastic and, since last year, fake leather-like material.

Well, while I certainly can understand why people would metal on their phone and that Samsung’s phones need to feel more premium, I actually hope that making metallic devices doesn’t become a thing with the world’s largest mobile manufacturer.

Why? Well, it all begins with my purchase of the Sony Xperia Z1 (after someone nicked my beloved Galaxy Note 3), and subsequently the HTC One M8. Right off the bat, the M8 was amongst the most attractive smartphones I had ever seen, and I was staring it for a couple of seconds when the shopkeeper was unpacking the box (to put in my SIM card and to show me that everything was okay inside.)

Then I picked up the phone in my hands, and it all went wrong.

I had been expecting to find out why people were almost unanimously enamored by how premium and awesome the HTC One M8 feels in the hand, like a luxury item that has no equal. Instead, what I realized as soon as I held the phone in one hand was that it was the most slippery smartphone I had ever come across. Almost instantly it started slipping from my hand as I was going over it, with my reflexes kicking in and making me hold it up with two hands.

There was literally zero feeling of premium-ness there, and with the huge size of the phone, I was almost regretting my decision to buy it (here in India, once you buy it, only then you can open the box, and you can’t exchange it right there without losing at least 5 percent of the phone’s value.)

I mean, I can’t use the phone without a case, as I am almost always fearful that I will drop it and damage it, with even two-handed usage an exercise in making sure I was holding on to it safely. What made it worse was the fact that I was moving on to the M8 from a phone that was equally bad at ergonomics – the Xperia Z1. Thanks to the glass on the back, the Z1 (and the new Xperia Z2) is as bad as the M8 when it comes to ergonomics, and is actually worse in some cases thanks to the blocky, squarish build.

With the Galaxy Note 3, while the phone was big, I was never afraid of damaging it. With one-hand usage, that 5.7-inch screen should have been impossible to handle, but it wasn’t. The faux leather back, which many criticized, helped considerably, and while I can see why people wouldn’t like it, it was a big factor when it came to ergonomics. The dimpled back on the Galaxy S5 is even better, making it one of the most easy-to-handle devices despite its big size.

With all that metal on the HTC One M8, I’ve come to realize that I don’t want Samsung to change its choice of material for its devices. Sure, I want them to adopt a new design since the current one is the most boring among the big name manufacturers, but switching to metal isn’t something I think they should be doing.

A better solution is taking a page out of Nokia’s book (or Apple’s iPhone 5C) and using better-quality plastic (if you’ve used the Nokia N9 or the Lumia 800 and other premium Nokia phones, you know what I’m talking about), even if that makes the phone a bit heavy. Metal simply isn’t the answer to a great smartphone, but only serves to make the phone look (and feel) premium while making it extremely tricky in terms of usability.

So please Samsung, stop listening to those who only wish to use their phones as a fashion statement (against whom I hold no grudges, but I just feel they care about the wrong part of a phone’s design.) No, don’t just carry on with your design and build aesthetics as they are now – by all means, make your phones look better and feel better, but please don’t bring in metal unless you can ensure the top-notch ergonomics of your smartphones aren’t affected in any way.

Opinion 23

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2 years 10 months ago

I really hope Samsung stays with plastic. I don’t care what the sheep think, Samsung have the highest ifix scores and reliability ratings for a reason. I use my S4 and S5 just as they are, without a case, as I did with the Skyrocket before them, and they never had a scratch on the glass and always looked pretty much brand new.

2 years 10 months ago

Nice article. As long as Samsung continues to improve the durability and functionality of their phones regardless of the material, I’m sure we will all be happy campers.

2 years 10 months ago

I never used my Note 1 and now Note 2 without a case, which takes care of accidental drops (and I had quite a few), save it from scratches, and makes the material used in manufacturing quiet irrelevant.

2 years 10 months ago

Very rightly addressed !!

I definitely want Samsung to change their Phone Design .. But it does not mean they should switch to Metal .. use any material but it should not lose usability ..

2 years 10 months ago

Actually, most people will just cover it up with a protective phone cover so why bother to have a metallic back cover?
Give me big screen, bestest resolution and microSD slot and I’m happy!

2 years 10 months ago

To the dude, who wrote this article – You’re God damn right !

2 years 10 months ago

Metal smartphones few inches worth,but smartphones more than 5 inches are not usable,i had Samsung Wave 1 and i was glad with it,and i now have Galaxy S3 with plastic and i have to say i prefer the second one because has many more features and better,but because plastic is better than metal,I feel better in my hand.

2 years 10 months ago

please remove the chromium plating and replace with steel or aluminium.

2 years 10 months ago

You real

2 years 10 months ago

Why not put real leather on the premium phones? That would give a definitive premium feel and a sure grip while not compromising net connectivity (by shielding the antenna with the proposed metal casing).

2 years 10 months ago

samsung galaxy j is the best, best design and best combination aluminiu and plastic

2 years 10 months ago

I really dont mind plastic , I really love what Samsung is doing with the Galaxy Tab S series . Awesome fit and finish yet with the lightness of plastic . Cuz in the end form and function should go hand in hand and not just be a fashion accessory
2 years 10 months ago

All those Metal sensitive people – Get your Phone bezel studded with Gold /Platinum and feel the premium phone. As a daily end user, I wouldn’t mind what it it built of unless it is hurting environment. More I care for is it should be most resistant to accidental Drops, water and few more accidentals.

With the host of features and almost every 5th in a score people are putting a cover on the phone to keep it safe – I don’t buy metallic phone or plastic phone. I buy a Phone usable and resistant to minor accidental damages. definitely s4 is sturdier than s3 and s5 is sturdier than s4…

Keep improving.


2 years 10 months ago

Exactly. I have the same opinion like you. More over ive seen so many times an iPhone hanged up we have to wait until the battery died because there no way to remove the battery and restart the phone.

For those who are complaining about laggy Samsung, please remove your cheap memory card from the back and use a quality microSD. You are just making your phone slower by using a cheaper memory card.

2 years 10 months ago

Finally someone who agrees. Love me some plastic, and I do really like the backs on the Note 3 (and recent Note tabs) and the S5.

Note 3, Galaxy Mega 6.3, Note Pro 12.2

2 years 10 months ago

Hahahaha . I have a plastic case over my S5 . I really do not care what material is used in a smartphone as long as it is doing his job ! I had a Htc Sensation and on the first day I droped it on concrete and the aluminium was damaged . With my S2 , I dropped it countless times and not even a scratch . So … aluminium or plastic ??? Plastic for me , thank you :)

2 years 10 months ago

who cares if it’s metal or not? Everyone is going to slap on a stupid plastic cover on it anyways.

2 years 10 months ago

Back to basics? Aint that what Samsung used for the Galaxy S5?

2 years 10 months ago

Wie need a new design using Nokia’s plastic with an aluminium rim :)

2 years 10 months ago

lol…. only Nokia not only uses Samsung’s screens, memory and other chips, but their plastic is from Samsung Cheil Industries. It’s award winning in so many no on is aware of. Specifically…. have you ever seen a new iphone with soft pot metal aluminum like in iPhone 5s in a fire? Because it’s not quality aluminum and had some bad problems in iPhone 5, they changed formula or who was supplying their material. Aluminum can burn extremely hot. If it’s got any zinc or magnesium in it, it can burn even hotter!

This is where a leading industrial powerhouse like Samsung worked to develop the most flame retardant plastic on the market. I’s ability to withstand flames and fire are amazing. Flexibility is something to be praised about plastic. It’s ability to simulate most any other material can’t be equaled. The faux leather back on Galaxy Note 3 was more leather like that Apple’s cheap $80 Vinyl Pleatherette Case!!! hahaha… yet again Nokia is one of Samsung best customers! ;-P

2 years 10 months ago

Thank you…finally someone else who understands the difference between material being used as a marketing gimmick in things like glass backs and metal uni body designs,vs truly beneficial plastics used in samsung and several other high end electronics. These supposedly terrible cheap nasty plastics are nearly indestructible and not only absorb shocks from drops better, but they hardly ever even scratch, and make holding the phone a treat not a chore. I’ve said for years that if the only thing fans of other manufacturers can find to say about samsung is about the plastics and not the shoddy build consistency, lag, and update stalls of htc, or the terrible blatant samsung ripoff known as lg, then I’d say samsung doing things just right


2 years 10 months ago

Exactly! …..but there are reasons why Samsung is reluctant to shift from plastic to aluminum or in iPhone 5s’s case, die cast carved blocks of inferior grade (non Aircraft Grade)soft crackable, bendable, breakable, scratchable, non removable aluminum back covers. Why change from something that works so much better on cell phones for greatest cellular signal reception?

Especially Samsung Cheil Industries and Chemical is an Award Winning 60yr old Plastic maker. Samsung’s plastics are engineered to be the best for whatever it’s used in. Apple can’t do that, especially with their laughable R&D budget. Yet they still got away (sorta) with saying they “Reinvented” plastic.

When it was just a coverup of all the iDiots out there dissing plastic on Android phones, while bragging about their new BMW or whatever car. All having this new Award Winning Polycarbonate, called Infino Brand PC. Now used in making much of it’s body, interior, Sunroofs, or in the case of Bugatti Veyron’s Removable Roof. All without ever realizing that Infino Brand PC in even the most expensive cars today is made by Samsung Cheil Industries!

Apple and fans are left eating their own words as their dissing of plastics has killed their own iPhone 5c’s success!!! lol… serves them right!!!

Meanwhile these same fools will be OK with Plastic being used in iPhone 6 over the antenna areas top and bottom of the back. What’s with that? If plastic is so terrible. They mock the name Galaxy as a brand for some arrogant reason, yet Galaxy Branding in Samsung goes back 30yrs to Cheil Industries premium men’s suits in their World Renown Fashion Industry. Represented by 007 Agent, Pierce Brosnan in commercials for ages!!! :D

2 years 10 months ago

Samsung, surely you can produce a device with both a removable back and aluminum body. BlackBerry did it years ago with the blackberry storm devices. Here we are years and years later with leaps and bounds in technology and no one has done it again. What gives this, should NOT be a premium device feature, it should be the norm right?