Poll: How important is a cell phone's material?

Last week, Samsung announced their new flagship, the Galaxy S4. While the phone should continue to help the company's overall position in the market, many people are complaining that the phone still uses smooth plastic (although technically it's polycarbonate) for the case while competitors are using metals and textured plastic, giving a more upscale feeling.

That said, most phones seen in the wild are completely enclosed in third-party protective cases, some for style reasons, and some to protect the device from an accidental plunge to the ground or in the water. That means the original phone material can no longer be seen or felt.

So how important is case material to you? Is it important for a premium phone to have a premium feel right out of the box, using a textured polycarbonate, metal, or glass casing? Does it not matter because it's going under a case anyway? Or does phone material not matter at all? Take our poll and give your opinion in the comments!


How important is a phone's material?

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Apple trashes rivals with new "Why iPhone?" page

Next Story

Study: Google's Chrome leads with most Windows vulnerabilities


Commenting is disabled on this article.

If you're not going to use a case, then a textured body is best just for the feeling of being able to grip it and it not be so slippery feeling.

Haven't ever had a phone with a metal case, but think I would prefer polycarbonate anyway.

Is a rather ridiculous poll though.

I prefer poly-carbonate plastic over solid metal, steel, or whatever else...
poly plastic, with a metal band around it is good enough. I put mine in a thin plastic
shell to make sure it isn't scratched up. My G-Note is 1 1/2 years old and still going
strong, after several drops, knocks still ticking.

Many people are fooled into believing that polycarbonate means that the manufacturer is trying to cheap out on building a phone. While sometimes the manufacturers may be looking to keep below a specific cost, this is not always why they decide to use plastics as some plastics are more durable and scratch resistant than aluminum, magnesium or glass. Manufacturers that use so called "higher quality" casing materials do so for one of 2 reasons - aesthetics or higher profit margin because they will use "quality" as an excuse to double the price of the phone. If you buy a phone purely on aesthetics, that really speaks volumes about your character - you are probably an arrogant and superficial person. I personally buy my phones based on features and my past experiences. I currently have a GS3 and I couldn't be happier with my choice. I could care less if the case isn't made out of aluminum or mag alloy as it does nothing to improve the function of the phone, and will often hinder wireless performance. I have also dropped my GS3 several times from heights over 4 feet with no ill effect - no chips, scratches or dents. If you are a superficial person, go ahead and buy an iPhone with its shiny metal and glass case, but I guarantee you the first time you drop it, you won't like what happens.

Most uneducated people will think that the heavy materials are better... Plastics last longer and are better in general for what Phones need to do. Metals will damper phone signals, cause the phone to get hotter and take longer to cool ( which destroys batteries ) , and doesn't take impacts as well as plastics.
Also, as already mentioned, there are tons of different types of plastics that are used, some being stronger than others.

I guess I'll have to go to the Telus Store or Future Shop and check out the Samsung Galaxy S phones to see what people are complaining about.
I have a Google Nexus 4 and absolutely love everything about it.

I do understand the dislike for the s3 and s4 case, but I keep mine in a fold/flip case, so it's not really a problem for me as I never see let alone touch anything other than the screen or power button (volume is default full on everything)

Any material is ok for me as long as it feels strong and premium on my hands. xperia arc is ok for me, btw galaxy s3 is not... both are plastic.

I voted... "As long as it's not made of paper, I'm good ".
I don't really care what it's made of, as long as it's not made crappy.
Plastic is fine, like I've said befor, 99% of the stuff we buy is made of plastic, so what's wrong with a cellphone being made out of plastic?
Also, if made of metal, remember, the heavier something is, the harder it hits the ground, thus receiving more damage.

Actually, aluminum phones are slightly lighter than poly-carbonate ones. This is due to the strength of aluminum. It's heavier than plastic; however, less material is used because of the higher strength of aluminum. That doesn't necessarily mean it's a higher-quality material though.

I don't have a preference for either materials because I care more about the feel of the phone. I'd hate to use a phone that I can't grip properly because it's covered in shiny plastic or one that's cold to the touch in winter because it's made of metal. So, I too voted "As long as it's not made of paper, I'm good".

There is a reason why I only buy IBM laptops. DURABILITY !

My smartphone on the other hand, I went with the cheapest thing I could find. I'm not clumsy and don't drop my phone. The few random times I have, just a few scratches. But, always on the edges, never on the screen.

Samsung FTW !

Sorry. Same thing. Just I was looking at my last generation IBM before they made the switch.

But still, I don't know what it is made out of. But 8 years of abuse and its still running strong.

I just want something that doesn't feel cheap and isn't slippery in hands but is still durable so I don't have to make it even bigger with a case. Right now using an iPhone 4 with a bumper - material may be high quality, but practical it certainly isn't.

About plastic, there are a lot of kind of plastic, the worst one is the glossy plastic, it looks and feel cheap. However, plastic trends to is pretty resistant.
Aluminum otherwise looks fine but it is not resistant, also it is scratch-able

I just skin my entire iPhone using a thin, clear scratch proof material from 3M. Not advertising the actual brand selling the skin here though

Enron said,
I want my next phone to be made of gold, but I'm only paying $199 for it.
it would be very heavy. Gold being porous material, when u drop it, it will chip. Also water would soften it and warp it.

The poll doesn't really make much sense.

For starters different plastics can have different qualities making some sturdier than others.

Also, what's a "high quality material"? Some alternatives to polycarbonites are glass and aluminium and, as Apple have proven on the last few iterations of the iPhone, these can cause they're own problems. For instance, glass breaks easily, aluminium scratches easily and can lead to poor reception.

I just want a sturdy phone that will withstand normal usage. If I have to put it in a bumper or some other case then it's probably built for looks, not wear and tear.

jakem1 said,
The poll doesn't really make much sense.


I've said this before but, I'm still using the original Galaxy S Captivate (AOKP based ROM 4.2.1). A phone that's coming up on three years old and has seen some abuse. I've thrown it, dropped it countless times, slept on it and it's taken every single bit of abuse I can muster. Still on the original battery and the screen is in damn good shape. I'm glad (yes, glad) that is phone is plastic. I would have destroyed a glass-cased phone many times over at this point.

I am sad to see the design not change like every other version of this phone. I'm not sure if the lawsuits with Apple have anything to do with it, but I think it is a possibility. The Captivate and the GS 2 had awesome designs, IMO. However, I'll take functionality and durability over looks when it comes to smartphones.

"Also, what's a "high quality material"?"

True, that probably wasn't the best choice of words. However when people discuss this topic, they seem to imply that anything not plastic is "high quality."

Fezmid said,
"Also, what's a "high quality material"?"

True, that probably wasn't the best choice of words. However when people discuss this topic, they seem to imply that anything not plastic is "high quality."

becausethey arent smarrg enough to know any better. Polycarbonate is the best if they use a high density version. The gs3 for example is very durable but flimsy. Same for the Note. Bavent touched the gs4 yet. But the Lumia feels good. I think a carbkn fiber shell would have been awesome for the gs4

Even tho the fibersafe wrapped around a astic mold. The fiberswoild have gave it textute to prevent slip drops. It would bave gj en the pho e a nice look similar to unibody and u can still have a plastic battery door with a similar look.

Fred 69 said,
Editor seems to be too ignorant to know the durability and quality of polycarbonate.

No, the poll is there as a gauge to see how many people feel that way. Read forums anywhere (here or elsewhere) and people say the Galaxy S3/S4 are "cheap" because they're polycarbonate. We want to see how many people believe that, or whether it's just a vocal minority.

Not a fan of cases, prefer a phone that's durable and built to last. I'm usually careful but you never know when a sudden case of dumbassery may strike and the phone takes a hit.

Glass casing was the stupidest thing that anyone ever came up with.

Polycarbonate while "cheap" feeling at least allows the phone to take some abuse.

It was actually pretty smart. People change phones every 2 years or so. Reclaiming and recycling glass is much more efficient and sustainable, while plastic is not. If products were made to last a life-time though, glass is not the best material. But most products are made to break so people can buy more.

I don't agree with that statement, for me polycarbonate will always seem like a better choice. In addition to being more shock resistant, it also has less mass, meaning a lighter device, so when you do drop it there's less energy that has to expended meaning less chance of damage.

Glass on the front of a phone, yes. On the back is just daft.

I agree. I have had both plastic and metal phones. They've all suffered drops and wear and tear. Since I buy my phones on contract, it has to last. My latest phone is a Lumia 920 and its fared the best so far of all of the devices I've had. I don't use a case and shouldn't need one if the device has the proper build quality.

I saw someone using an Xperia S to scrape rust of a car (not the best tool to use I know) , should prove atleast something? lol

I have an Xperia S, works great in my opinion (although its slightly bulky)

Manarift said,
Better quality = longer lasting phone imho

Last time I checked the most indestructible phone ever made (nokia 3310) was made of plastic!

Drewidian said
I don't use a case and shouldn't need one if the device has the proper build quality.
Well for me, I always think it's better to be safe than sorry.