Samsung defends using plastic in smartphones

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.

So, if you want a quality device with high-end materials, buy an iPhone. Got it.

  • Nothing wrong with plastic. It’s the cheap flimsy crap kinds of plastic that Samsung use that the problem is. Look to Nokia and recently HTC for nice feeling and good looking plastic. It wouldn’t surprise me if Apple ever did go with polycarbonate for an iPhone, given the astonishingly high number of breakages (unlikely to motivate them) or lower cost and better signal advantages that plastic affords. Aluminium isn’t always that great a solution, given how quickly it looks bad.

    • curbside_preacher

      I think plastic can look just as bad as aluminum over a short amount of time. From an environmental perspective I am not sure plastic is as good as aluminum. Finally don’t forget about ceramics.

    • Herding_sheep

      I believe Apple solved that “signal problem” aluminum presents by making the frame part of the antenna. No longer any worries about penetration ;).

      And for the record, plastic (especially white) can get real dirty real quick. Apple is guilty of this as well, even with their high quality polycarbonate. Look at some old white MacBooks that have been used regularly. If you compare it to an old MacBook Pro that’s been used just as regularly, there’s no comparison, Apples anodized aluminum ages far better.

    • LTMP

      Anecdotal, of course, but I have a 2.5 year old iPhone 4 that has gone through hell and back, it is flawless except for a busted sleep button.

  • Clearly Samsung is considering visual aesthetics since many of their crappy plastic phones look just fine.

    It’s when you touch the junky thing that it all goes to pot.

    • BC2009

      I went to an AT&T store. I held the HTC One X and gripped it to see how it felt one handed. It was a bit big, but the phone was solid and that LCD IPS screen was gorgeous. Then I tried out the Galaxy S3… it was a bit big, the screen was incredibly dim by comparison and the phone flexed and creaked in my hand. It felt like a cheap toy. Then I tried the iPhone 5 and it was reminiscent of the HTC One X, but the right size for one-handed use. I am looking forward to upgrading my iPhone 4S to an iPhone 5S to get that form factor, though I think when it comes to Android, HTC is doing the best stuff.

      • The latest Sony Xperia Z is quite an impressive device and looks visually stunning. Although Sony is all over the place with far too many different models and bizarre naming schemes. And they are pretty terrible with the Android software updates, definitely worse than Samsung.

        There’s definitely room for a premium brand player and Sony could deliver on it. Unfortunately they are too keen to play the Android numbers game and are happy to chase volume sales at lower margin.

      • Absolutely. Outside of Apple, HTC is probably the only phone manufacturer with any real interest in industrial design. HTC’s high-quality hardware design has often been marred by the low-quality operating systems they’ve been mated to, but even then HTC has long given the old college try to adding thoughtful touches to and spackling over flaws in various Windows and Android versions.

        Both the Android market in general and HTC specifically are chasing form factors I’m not interested in, but if Apple went bankrupt tomorrow I’d be buying the smallest full-featured HTC smartphone.

  • “The company also assesses how quickly and efficiently it can manufacture the product, knowing that it will have to ship a high volume.”

    Good point. Companies that have to quickly and efficiently manufacture in high volumes always use cheap plastic…..

    Except…you know…Apple….but their volumes are nowhere near Samsung’s….right?

    • BC2009

      You’re right….. 48M iPhones (all models combined) in a quarter is no where near 20M Galaxy phones (all models combined) — not even close.

    • To be fair Apple do struggle to keep up with demand for months after product launches. And Apple has locked up a good chunk of the supply channel with their existing commitments and agreements.

      • Kriztyan

        Sure, but they don’t use cheap plastic 😉

  • “The company also [sets up committees and] assesses how quickly and efficiently it can [copy and] manufacture the [Apple] product [just released], knowing that it will have to ship a high volume [ASAP].”

  • Samsung concentrates on the ecosystem and SW features. Until they have to build a better “shell” for the smartphone they won’t. They do sell well with a cheap material – they don’t have any reason to change the shell. HTC are more daring, rephrased: HTC copies the iPhone quality feel, because they need to try something new to gain market share back.

  • “We haven’t gotten around to copying the glass and aluminum thing yet. Check back in 12 months.”