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Leaked image of the Galaxy S IV  (Source: evleaks)
Plastic likely to be used extensively in the Galaxy S IV

The Samsung Galaxy S III is been incredibly popular smartphone for Samsung. One of the more common complaints that users have had about the device is that it feels rather flimsy thanks to the plastic case. Other high-end smartphones, such as the iPhone 5 and HTC One, use aluminum, giving the devices a more solid feel.

We’re sure there a lot of people out there were hoping that the Galaxy S IV might move to a more rigid metal frame, but CNET reports that the S IV won’t stray far from the design philosophy implemented on the Galaxy S III. According to Samsung executive vice president of mobile business Y.H. Lee, when Samsung looks at the materials it wants to use it doesn't only think about the aesthetics and quality, it also looks at how quickly and efficiently can you make the device.

Thin plastic frames and bodies would certainly be easier and cheaper to develop and manufacture. Samsung is also said to have had conversations about maintaining a removable back allowing the battery to be removed. Samsung maintains that using a thin and flexible plastic back cover for their devices makes it more durable than other smartphones. This claim comes from the fact that the thinner and flexible plastic can bend to better absorb a physical impact.
The Samsung executive stopped short of saying whether or not the Galaxy S IV would use plastic or move to more premium materials such as metal or even polycarbonate. 

Source: CNET

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Plastic phones last longer...
By Philippine Mango on 3/6/2013 10:17:38 AM , Rating: 5
A phone made with a properly designed plastic case is likely to last longer due to the plastic being more forgiving and also by being lighter. It's true the phone doesn't feel as substantial as phones made with aluminum but as long as everything fits well together and the phone holds up, I think it's great. Phones with metal bodies tend to break easier which kind of defeats the purpose of having a "more substantial feeling" device.

RE: Plastic phones last longer...
By MrRuckus on 3/6/2013 10:38:16 AM , Rating: 2
I agree. Plastic or metal, it really doesn't matter to most as most people will purchase some kind of cover to protect their investment. All it takes is that one drop by accident and you now have a chipped/scratched/dented $500 piece of equipment. I have dropped my SGS III once and glad I have my otterbox in place. When you go to resell the phone and upgrade later, the body of the phone is in just about flawless condition when a case is used as it takes the everyday abuse.

So while metal phones are nice, its not a deal breaker to me.

RE: Plastic phones last longer...
By Nortel on 3/6/13, Rating: 0
By theapparition on 3/6/2013 11:20:42 AM , Rating: 2
Funny, but most of the Rolex's made in the 70s and 80s used acrylic or hesalite crystals. And many of those are among the most desirable vintage.

So your attempt at humor is a failure.

RE: Plastic phones last longer...
By theapparition on 3/6/2013 11:25:57 AM , Rating: 2
And another thing. Rolex would never use Aluminum in a case design.

You're stretching, as usual.

RE: Plastic phones last longer...
By Samus on 3/6/2013 11:37:00 PM , Rating: 2
Samsung should just one-up Apple and make the whole phone out of glass, not just the front and back.

Why the hell did Apple put glass on the back of a phone, anyway? People are either going to put a case on it to protect it, or they're going to put a case on it to hide that it cracked because they didn't have a case...

By rob19478 on 3/7/2013 5:29:42 AM , Rating: 2
glass is scratch free, at least my nokias

RE: Plastic phones last longer...
By mjv.theory on 3/6/2013 12:09:55 PM , Rating: 4
I think you're right - if you want to ponse about in an attempt to impress shallow minded onlookers with jewellery, then metal is probably the way to go. On the other hand, if you want a device, be it watch or computing device, primarily to perform a function, then material aesthetics give way to price, durability and quality and extent of functionality.

RE: Plastic phones last longer...
By Nortel on 3/6/13, Rating: -1
RE: Plastic phones last longer...
By Rukkian on 3/6/2013 1:54:09 PM , Rating: 3
So you would rather have a less durable, heavier phone so you can feel superior?

If apple had plastic, and samsung was metal, then you would be touting plastic, but since it is the other way around, well this is what you get.

I would like to see some evidence that your tictac case is made of the same material. While it may be plastic, there are so many grades of plastic, that I highly doubt they are the same composition.

From my experience: Every single person (at least 15 that I can think of) I know with an Iphone or ipod has broken at least 1 by dropping it from short distances, while my cheap plastic Samsung has been dropped so many times, and still looks brand new. I will take that any day.

RE: Plastic phones last longer...
By Nortel on 3/6/13, Rating: -1
RE: Plastic phones last longer...
By Rukkian on 3/6/2013 3:25:26 PM , Rating: 2
Tic Tac containers are polystyrene/polypropylene but most drink containers are indeed polycarbonate :)

Polycarbonate has many formulations, just like there are many different strengths/thickness of aluminum.

I've seen iPad's dropped so many times the corners are caved in and it still operates as new.

While that may be true, what does that have to do with a galaxy phone? I specifically brought up iphones, and you change it to try to make your case. I will be more specific, I know of at least 20 iphone 4, 4s and 5 that have had busted screens, most of which were from falls from very short distances, and that is every person I know personally that has an iphone (15 people + 1 person that has lost 3 and one that has lost 2).

While I know of less people that have samsung phones, of those that do, only one has cracked her screen. I have dropped my phone so many times getting in and out of cars, at the gym, etc over the last 16 months, and it still looks like brand new.

I know that is anecdotal, but iphones are pretty notorious for breaking screens, and (with the 4) known to have reception issues without a case, which tells me that maybe aluminum is not the issue.

With the iPhone 3G/3Gs I criticized the polycarbonate back which would scratch easily.

So since apple used cheap, hard plastic that could not stand up to abuse, while others use softer, more flexible, more durable plastic, it must mean that all plastic is bad. Great logic there.

By Solandri on 3/6/2013 4:02:02 PM , Rating: 3
I've seen iPad's dropped so many times the corners are caved in and it still operates as new.

This is why metal is bad for mitigating falling damage. It has a rather stiff young's modulus (it doesn't deform much for a given stress). That means the deceleration forces from a fall are high, resulting in the metal quickly entering the permanent deformation region. And you end up with caved in corners.

With a more flexible material like plastic, the energy of the fall is dissipated over a greater distance/time, reducing deceleration forces, and thus reducing the likelihood of permanent damage. The plastic corner bends a lot more, possibly even resulting in the different major pieces of the phone snapping apart. But because the bending spreads out the forces and reduces the peak stresses, there's less chance of permanent deformation being done (other than a few scuff marks) and after the impact everything just snaps right back. Fighting styles like judo embrace this philosophy - minimize damage by redirecting the energy of blows instead of trying to resist them entirely.

HP (the old HP) understood this when designing their original Laserjet printers, the ones that weighed 50-75 lbs. People complained about the exterior being "cheap plastic". But the things could fall off a table, bounce around, and they'd continue to work perfectly fine. If it had been metal it would've deformed, the interior pieces would no longer be aligned, and it wouldn't function as a printer anymore. For the damage modes most frequently experienced by laser printers, "cheap plastic" was the superior exterior material choice. Heck, Apple understood the same thing when they made their laptop power plugs magnetic, instead of a long, rigid physical plug and socket.

No I'm not saying metal sucks. Materials all have a different roles based on their dozens of different properties, and it's the engineer's job to pick the material whose properties best suit the needs of the task at hand. If people were using their phones to support large weights or to hold things solidly in place or to provide puncture resistance, then yes I'd agree metal is the better choice than plastic. But for a device whose primary damage risk is falls from about 3-5 feet, you want a softer, flexible material on the exterior to take the brunt of the impact forces while the interior is protected by a stronger frame/chassis.

If the phone doesn't have that soft, flexible exterior, people feel compelled to buy one to protect the phone. That's why most iPad/iPhone owners buy a protective case. The metal is mostly decorative, not functional, so they feel it needs additional protection. I never really understood this - it's like buying a plastic wrap for your sofa to protect it from spills. If spills on the sofa are a concern, it should be designed from the beginning to be spill-resistant. And that's what the plastic back cover does. In essence the plastic back is your protective cover. And it's cheap and easily replaced if it gets too scuffed up for your tastes (a quick Google search says you can get them for the S3 for less than $10, probably less than $1 wholesale, making it cheaper than most protective cases).

By Reclaimer77 on 3/6/2013 5:42:06 PM , Rating: 2
I've seen iPad's dropped so many times the corners are caved in and it still operates as new.

Uhhh did you think about this when you said it? How are corners caving in some kind of testament to the quality of the materials?

Aluminum is great for some things. Absorbing impact damage, not so much.

By maugrimtr on 3/8/2013 4:52:42 AM , Rating: 1
The poly back to the iPhone 3GS was a mess. Have you any recently? It turns out that the whole back slowly warps, cracks, discolors and picks up scratches like nothing else I've seen.

iPhone 4 solved that with the glass backing. Of, it's glass...

iPhone 5 solved the issues with glass cracking by using aluminum but the black anodized layer wears off quickly on all edges and the buttons for volume control (the off switch rarely since who uses that?!).

Eventually they'll get it right...

By Cheesew1z69 on 3/6/2013 3:58:43 PM , Rating: 2
He already thinks he is superior...

RE: Plastic phones last longer...
By theapparition on 3/6/2013 1:54:17 PM , Rating: 2
Have you ever designed any products. Seriously?

Material selection is very important. Polymers are a valid choice for many products. Metal is not always the answer, nor is plastic or composite.

Saying your box of TicTacs is made of the exact same polycarbonate shows your complete lack of understanding (BTW, TicTac boxes aren't polycarbonate). What grade is being used? Percentage of regrind? Blend? Fillers? Textures? Overmolds? Coatings? I can go on.

Engineered plastics can be better (or worse) for a specific task. It's all about selecting the best performance. Price is also a consideration, but some plastic parts actually cost more than metal ones, depending on a lot of factors.

Just because you think plastic=cheap doesn't make it true.

By Cheesew1z69 on 3/6/2013 2:39:20 PM , Rating: 2
Does he do much other than defend Apple on sites? My guess is no.

By Reclaimer77 on 3/6/2013 3:09:48 PM , Rating: 2
And yet we have the knights of plastic, those who have sworn their lives to defending plastic and all their known chemical brethren.

Lol wtf?? Just..ahahah.

Man you need help. Stupid little iTard.

RE: Plastic phones last longer...
By cyberguyz on 3/16/2013 7:18:15 AM , Rating: 1
Show me a phone with a user-replaceable battery that has back made of anything but plastic.

I would much faster trade a user replaceable battery with an aluminum case back any day of the week.

Might I point out who it is that is selling the most phones too (it ain't Apple).

By FITCamaro on 3/6/2013 3:00:47 PM , Rating: 3
Well with the iPhone 4S, you have to cover it with a rubber case in order to have it even work correctly. So the fact that it's pretty aluminum is moot.

RE: Plastic phones last longer...
By hughlle on 3/6/2013 6:41:19 PM , Rating: 2
By most people i do not think you mean most people. I think you talk from a personal experience and nothing more. To put it simply, i do not know of one single friend or colleague or associate who has a cover for their stupidly priced phone. Ok, i lie, my gf has one of these iphone 4 cases that doubles as a wallet/purse. So for me, 1 out of everyone i know in a non-stranger sense of the word, does not use a cover.

RE: Plastic phones last longer...
By woody1 on 3/6/2013 2:51:38 PM , Rating: 2
I have a Galaxy SIII and I'm fine with the plastic case. As the OP said, it's lighter than metal. Also, if you ever need to, you can cheaply replace the plastic back.

The main thing, though, is that I got a rubberized case for it as soon as I got it, so I almost never see the back of the phone. I don't really know why people make such a big deal about whether a phone is made of metal or not.

By Cheesew1z69 on 3/6/2013 2:53:27 PM , Rating: 3
I don't really know why people make such a big deal about whether a phone is made of metal or not.
Take notice of who is making the big deal... the Apple drones..

RE: Plastic phones last longer...
By kmmatney on 3/6/2013 7:19:15 PM , Rating: 2
I have an iPhone 4S - the nice thing about the aluminum and glass backing is that the phone still looks brand new after 16 months. It looks like I've kept it in a drawer and never used it. So should be easy to resell. However it's pretty heavy, and I can't see using anything like this with a bigger screen. I think you really have to go plastic with something the size of the GS3 or Note II (which is the screen size I'm aiming fro for my next phone).

RE: Plastic phones last longer...
By Motoman on 3/7/2013 12:11:11 PM , Rating: 2
My lowly T-Mo MyTouch 4G still looks brand-new after the same period of use. And it's all plastic.

RE: Plastic phones last longer...
By woody1 on 3/10/2013 12:27:25 PM , Rating: 2
Ditto for my Galaxy S3. Still looks like new, because it's in a protective case. Even if the back of the phone was scrached, I could replace it with a brand new one from Amazon for $12. And here's the big thing: I can replace the battery with a new one any time I want.

I've seen many, many people walking around with iPhones with cracked screens. I'd worry more about that than about the back of the phone.

RE: Plastic phones last longer...
By KoolAidMan1 on 3/6/2013 9:13:49 PM , Rating: 1
The S3 did much worse than the iPhone 5 in drop tests. Even Android Authority posted results where the iPhone 5 had barely a scratch while the GS3 was trashed.

The iPhone 4 was different since it had a glass back. Going to aluminum made it more durable than that design and the older plastic ones.

RE: Plastic phones last longer...
By woody1 on 3/10/2013 12:31:33 PM , Rating: 2
How would the drop tests look if the phones both had protective cases? Because that's really the sensible way to use your phone. Without a case, either phone is likely to suffer when dropped.

RE: Plastic phones last longer...
By Roffles on 3/13/2013 4:15:05 PM , Rating: 2
why can't EVERYONE understand the plastics used on the galaxy s3 actually make it a better phone. in addition to it feeling perfectly fine in the hand/pocket and plastics being able to better dissipate shock energy compared to solid aluminum frames when dropped, my favorite part of my s3 is that you can (literally) peal off the back plastic cover to replace the battery and/or sdxc card. it's so easy to do, it makes using a spare battery second nature. i can recharge my phone in a little under a minute by this method compared to being tied to a wall socket for hours on other phones.

a lot of people act as if replaceable batteries and expandable storage are just a gimmick feature for business and power users... but you are an idiot fishing for excuses if you think that's true. i'll never understand why people don't grasp this as an incredible advantage and perfect solution to the battery life shortcomings that afflict EVERY smartphone.

Plastic isn't always bad.
By txDrum on 3/6/2013 10:57:10 AM , Rating: 2
There are two types of plastic. Both are usually more durable than metal anyways. The old glossy plastic that I believe the S3 used, and the soft touch polycarbonate kind of plastic used on something like the HTC 8X (the windows phone). That definitely feels way better than any aluminum or plastic phone I've held, and that would be welcome to me.

If Samsung is using plastic though, they'll probably go with the same design that they've had in the past. In which case I still wish they'd pick something different, but it's going to sell either way.

RE: Plastic isn't always bad.
By theapparition on 3/6/2013 11:23:55 AM , Rating: 3
Yeah, there's quite a bit more than two types of plastic. Eleventy billion would have been a closer guess.

RE: Plastic isn't always bad.
By Solandri on 3/6/2013 4:19:16 PM , Rating: 2
The same goes for metals. There are a gazillion different alloys, each with different properties. Marketing may call it aluminum, but that doesn't really narrow it down.

Material selection is a complex task, and characterizing it as "metal > plastic" is grossly oversimplified and ignorant.

plastic is best
By zephyrprime on 3/6/2013 12:27:32 PM , Rating: 3
Plastic is best anyway for reception reasons.

RE: plastic is best
By Motoman on 3/8/2013 10:43:24 AM , Rating: 2
Oh, seriously. Like anyone's stupid enough to produce a cell phone that would have reception problems. Or stupid enough to buy a cell phone that had reception problems.

Plastic is now awesome!
By tayb on 3/6/2013 11:36:43 AM , Rating: 1
Plastic on the new Samsung phone running Android? Plastic is superior to metal.

Fast forward 12 months: "Samsung Galaxy S6 to use aluminum."

Plastic is crap anyway.

RE: Plastic is now awesome!
By Nortel on 3/6/2013 2:55:28 PM , Rating: 1
This could not be more true.

RE: Plastic is now awesome!
By Rukkian on 3/6/2013 3:14:45 PM , Rating: 2
I might actually have to not use buy one then. To me a phone is not a fashion accessory, and I do not care what symbol is on it. I want it to work and be durable for a decent price.

I do not want something that looks good, but gets damaged easily.

case cover it so who cares?
By tlbj6142 on 3/6/2013 10:53:49 AM , Rating: 3
It seems 75-90% of people put cases on their phones regardless of the material it is made out of, so why does it matter?

Next phone to be made out of...
By Freeseus on 3/6/2013 2:22:22 PM , Rating: 2
a mimetic poly-alloy.

Melts in your hand. Rigid designs are obsolete. Just ask any T-101. Dis is duh fewcha.

Aluminium has it's uses.
By Daemia on 3/6/2013 3:54:48 PM , Rating: 2
A iPhone has it's uses..When it's not working properly (almost always) you can throw it at a person and knock him out..Aluminium all the way..

no problem
By rob19478 on 3/7/2013 5:28:26 AM , Rating: 2
what is the problem nokia lumia 920 is the prettiest phone on the market and has a plastic case

By tanjali on 3/6/2013 11:54:53 AM , Rating: 1
They should make it from Carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer it sounds fancy durable and expensive.

By Schadenfroh on 3/6/13, Rating: 0
S3 uses Polycarbonate
By UpSpin on 3/6/13, Rating: -1
RE: S3 uses Polycarbonate
By othercents on 3/6/2013 11:01:37 AM , Rating: 2
the thinner and flexible plastic can bend to better absorb a physical impact

The drawback of using polycarbonate is that phone parts under and near the polycarbonate are less likely to absorb the shock that is transferred when the polycarbonate flexes. This was really showing during the AndroidAuthority drop test.

I don't think we can get a perfect solution and it will be dependent on personal preference.

RE: S3 uses Polycarbonate
By Mint on 3/6/2013 11:19:31 AM , Rating: 3
n=1 uncontrolled drop tests are not evidence of durability.

I really hate how people use these pathetic drop tests as proof that one phone is built better than the other.

RE: S3 uses Polycarbonate
By othercents on 3/6/2013 12:05:04 PM , Rating: 2
In my experience the iPhone 5 has had less instances of cracked screens than the S3. This might be due to iPhone 5 users always getting cases, or Apple users are more genital with their phones, or when having the same newtons of force applied to the corner of the iPhone 5 vs the S3 the iPhone will not crack the screen while the S3 (because of the flexibility of the plastic) does.

My point is that there is a drawbacks for both aluminum and polycarbonate. Polycarbonate tends to crack under pressure while aluminum bends.

The moral of the story is: Don't drop or sit on your phone.

RE: S3 uses Polycarbonate
By Over9K on 3/6/2013 12:20:40 PM , Rating: 4
Apple users do tend to be more genital with their phones.

RE: S3 uses Polycarbonate
By Solandri on 3/6/2013 4:37:28 PM , Rating: 3
or when having the same newtons of force applied to the corner of the iPhone 5 vs the S3 the iPhone will not crack the screen while the S3 (because of the flexibility of the plastic) does.

Folks, having a strong exterior does not protect the interior from falling damage. It protects interior contents from punctures, but makes damage from deceleration forces worse. We learned that lesson 60 years ago with cars. People were dying in automobile crashes, so car makers did the "obvious" thing and kept making the bodies strong and stronger. By the 1950s when researches first started looking at the problem in depth, they came to the realization that a strong exterior just means the exterior survives the crash intact. The people inside get turned into jelly paste.

That's what led to modern safety design practices in automobiles. The exteriors are deliberately designed to crumple, thus absorbing and spreading out the deceleration forces. That's what improves the survivability of the occupants. Not a stronger exterior, but a weaker one which sacrifices itself to protect the stiff passenger compartment. It's the same principle behind a bungee cord. If the cord were strong, stiff wire, the fall would kill you (or sever your feet, then the impact with the ground would kill you). But because the cord yields and stretches, it spreads the deceleration out over a lot of time, meaning the peak forces on your body are easily survivable.

That's essentially what a plastic phone body does. It yields, bends (spreading out the impact forces thus lowering peak decelerations), and sacrifices itself (dissipating falling energy), thus helping to preserve the interior. The only way a stiff metal exterior helps improve interior survivability is by permanently deforming. And people generally don't want their phones to deform from a fall. Which is why they put cases on all these metal phones.

RE: S3 uses Polycarbonate
By retrospooty on 3/6/2013 12:23:13 PM , Rating: 2
It may not show what is built better than the other, but its a good real world test. People do drop phones and they do break.

RE: S3 uses Polycarbonate
By ShaolinSoccer on 3/6/2013 1:21:19 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think we can get a perfect solution and it will be dependent on personal preference.

Rubber phones! And while they are at it, rubber glass!

RE: S3 uses Polycarbonate
By Mint on 3/6/2013 11:15:32 AM , Rating: 2
Umm, polycarbonate is a plastic.

Other than that I agree with you. Plastic is really the only durable (and cheaply replaceable) option if you want an easily removable battery. I think that Samsung's leadership position puts less pressure on them to try standing out from the crowd with material look and feel, so they haven't sacrificed function for form and will probably continue resisting it. I applaud them for this philosophy.

RE: S3 uses Polycarbonate
By theapparition on 3/6/2013 11:16:37 AM , Rating: 2
The S3 does not use plastic, but polycarbonate, and so will the S4.

Quite possibly one of the most incorrect statements I've ever seen.

Let me rephrase this for you to see how bad it was.
The iPhone 5 doesn't use metal, but aluminum, and so will the iPhone 5S.


Polycarbonate is a type plastic. So is ABS, and Delrin, and Polyethylene, and so on. They are all different types of plastic, just like aluminum, steel, copper and magnesium are all different types of metals. Now let me blow your mind. You can also blend plastics. PC/ABS blends with metal or ceramic fillers is also quite popular.

So what do you think "plastic" actually means?

FWIW, I do agree with the spirit of your post, that just because something is plastic doesn't mean it's poor quality. Plastic is a superior choice of material in many instances.

RE: S3 uses Polycarbonate
By UpSpin on 3/6/2013 11:35:52 AM , Rating: 2
you're totally right, Polycarbonate is a type of plastic.
Sadly for the author, plastic, aluminum, polycarbonate are three different materials:
would use plastic or move to more premium materials such as metal or even polycarbonate

Because the majority of people think that way: (example: this article)
plastic: cheap material used for kids toys
aluminum: wooooow, super light silver metal
polycarbonate: woooow, difficult name, must be some special high tech NASA stuff

I said something wrong, but something which fits in peoples mind, so they might understand that the plastic used for the smartphone is not comparable to the plastic used in baby toys.

RE: S3 uses Polycarbonate
By theapparition on 3/6/2013 1:45:14 PM , Rating: 2
Fair enough.

But also keep in mind that the plastic used in most baby toys is usually an even higher grade.

Very few people take their cell phone and slam it into the floor and expect it to keep working. Have you seen the way babies and toddlers handle their toys? It's actually some of the better engineering on many of those toys.

RE: S3 uses Polycarbonate
By retrospooty on 3/6/2013 11:59:00 AM , Rating: 2
"Some people might think aluminum is a premium material, yet it's inferior to polycarbonate."

Yup... Its a give and take. Aluminum looks and feels nicer of course, but poly is far more scratch resistant. With a good poly you really dont even need a case. It will look brand new unless its fairly heavily abused.

RE: S3 uses Polycarbonate
By zephyrprime on 3/6/2013 12:26:18 PM , Rating: 2
Polycarbonate is a plastic just as much as polyester or vinyl is.

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