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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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RE: Plastic phones last longer...
By Nortel on 3/6/2013 2:47:06 PM , Rating: -1
With the iPhone 3G/3Gs I criticized the polycarbonate back which would scratch easily. When they switched to glass/stainless steel it was a huge difference and many applauded the change. Apple has since changed to milled aluminum and it feels even better.

Tic Tac containers are polystyrene/polypropylene but most drink containers are indeed polycarbonate :)

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

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...

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