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Why are Samsung phones plastic?

Have you ever wondered why Samsung phones are plastic? Many consumers have. Whilst last year’s Samsung Galaxy S5 was a huge consumer hit, the phone’s plastic casing was a deterrent for many. Despite this, Samsung have always defended their choice to use plastic to build their smartphones.

Samsung has often been criticised for using plastic to build premium products like the S5, where other companies like Apple and HTC are using metal and glass. The Galaxy S5’s biggest rival, the HTC One M8 has received much praise for its brushed metal design, and HTC’s president for America, Jason Mackenzie, slated the S5 last year as a phone for people who ‘want to buy a product built out of cheap plastic’. Yet throughout 2014, Samsung continued to maintain that plastic is the best material for building smartphones.

Why are Samsung phones plastic?

In an interview with CNET, Y.H. Lee, executive vice president of Samsung’s mobile business, explained that aesthetics weren’t the sole concern for Samsung when determining which materials to use. With high consumer demand, Samsung knows they need to be able to manufacture and ship large units quickly and efficiently. Using plastic enables them to supply this demand, avoiding the long waiting times experienced by consumers of rival brands, like Apple.

There are other benefits to consumers too. The removable plastic back covers on Samsung’s phones mean the batteries can be replaced easily when they stop holding their charge so well. Whilst a dud battery on the iPhone means an expensive trip to the Apple Store to get it replaced, you can pick-up a spare S5 battery for just over £10 online. Similarly, if you want to access the memory expansion slot and add memory to store more videos, films and photos on your Samsung device, you can, easily and cheaply.

Samsung has also argued that the plastic casing gives their smartphones greater durability than cases built of metal and glass. The plastic back covers are bendable and better absorb physical impact. So dropping your S5 on the kitchen floor doesn’t make you wince in the same way it would the heavy, metallic HTC One. It’s no secret that dropping an iPhone is likely to result in a smashed screen and a hefty bill; Samsung’s plastic phones tend to fare much better. If you’re locked into an 18- or 24-month contract then this is a significant advantage of having a plastic phone rather than a metal one.

With the highly anticipated S6 on its way in March, there has been much speculation as to whether Samsung will release its first all-metal phone. We all know that Samsung listen to their market and respond to consumer demands, so it will be interesting to see how they balance this desire for a more premium-feeling product with the practical solutions that plastic affords.

*Update: the new S6 will feature a beautiful metal-and-glass body. This is a big move for Samsung, and it will be interesting to see how customers respond to the new design. We’ll also have to wait and see if the metal-and-glass body will be rolled out across the Samsung range, or whether the majority of Samsung phones will continue to be made with plastic bodies.

What do you think? Do you question “why are Samsung phones plastic?” when other products with a similar price tag have more of a premium feel? Or are you a fan of the affordable, practical solutions that plastic brings? Get in touch on our Facebook page and let us know what you’re hoping to see in the Samsung Galaxy S6 and future Samsung smartphones…

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