Why the Galaxy S4 won't be shedding its plastic roots

There's one complaint that often crops up with the Galaxy S3: it feels "plasticy".

One of the Galaxy S3's few faults is its plastic feel.
(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)

At a time when competitors are using glass, aluminium and even higher quality plastics such as polycarbonate, Samsung has stuck to its guns with a thin, bendable plastic body.

Which is why the Galaxy S4 won't stray too far from that design philosophy.

CNET sat down with YH Lee, executive vice president of Samsung's mobile business, to discuss the company's thoughts on design. When Samsung looks at what materials to use, it isn't just taking into consideration the aesthetic quality of the device, Lee said. The company also assesses how quickly and efficiently it can manufacture the product, knowing that it will have to ship a high volume.

Lee said that because Samsung will ship large units, it must consider the smartphone's manufacturability and durability.

Samsung also discussed the pros and cons of keeping a removable back cover so that the battery can be replaced, an issue other companies deal with as well. An LG executive told CNET that the company had received customer complaints about the Optimus G because the back wouldn't come off. The back cover of the larger Optimus G Pro is removable.

Samsung has argued that the plastic back cover, which feels light, is more durable than those of other smartphones because it's bendable and can better absorb physical impact. CNET editor Jessica Dolcourt noted in her review that it is "just about the nicest plastic phone I've ever seen".

Still, Samsung's plastic Galaxy S4 will roll out at a time when other smartphones are stepping up their designs. There's no mistaking that Apple's iPhone 5, with its thin metal frame, looks and feels like a premium product. Likewise, the HTC One's all-aluminium body stands out among a sea of bland Android competitors.

In addition, Nokia is using a harder version of plastic called polycarbonate, and Lumia is introducing smartphones in more vibrant colours.

Lee said that Samsung has attempted to strike a balance between practical demands and the desire for a more premium-feeling product.

"I think the next product has a nice balance between this," she said. "We listen to the market and try to accommodate."

Via CNET.com

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JamieD1 posted a comment   

All I want is Samsung to beat apple in sales, my love for my s2 is strong but can't afford an s3 at the moment, so if a s4 is bigger and better and cheaper then apple, then I give Samsung a handshake.
Also there are alot of apple products out there, alot of users film there apple iphone's lasting longer and doing stuff better alot of the times, better then other phones, this is because not all phones are the same 24/7 some phones have different software on it, and some can have defects on the body which can increase of decrease it's drop rate to survive rate. So both phone makers every now and then make some with flaws in there material used. But apple does use a metal/steel casing around the structure. That's extra support, but doing so makes it weigh more and cost more, Samsung just wants there products to be fast, light, and cheap for the market to buy, and feel natural. But in the end, the phones cost $500 plus, why wouldn't you protect it with covers and lets just say, don't drop it.


KarlJ posted a comment   

If YH Lee is correct then why are there so many Youtube drop tests showing iPhone 4/5 surviving way better than the Galaxy S III's do?

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