We’re just over a week away from the Galaxy S IV’s official unveiling in New York City, and the pieces are starting to fall into place. Sure, we still don’t know what the thing is going to look like, but persistent rumors have pegged the device as sporting the same sort of plastic body that Samsung has been (in?)famous for.
While she wouldn’t weigh in on the Galaxy S IV specifically, Y.H. Lee, executive VP of Samsung’s mobile unit, told CNET’s Roger Cheng that the love-it-or-hate-it plastic chassis endemic to the company’s gadgets aren’t going anywhere just yet.
According to Lee, it’s just as much about practicality as it is about style: In order to churn out (and sell) as many devices as Samsung does, the company has to pay plenty of attention to how efficiently they can be made. Naturally, Samsung can’t just pump out loads of shoddy devices and call it a day, so durability weighs heavily on the company’s mind when it comes time to picking out materials for a final design.
Meanwhile, would-be rivals like HTC have embraced metal with open arms in its latest flagship device designs. The benefits are as plentiful as they are subjective — the adjective that seems to be bandied about most often is “premium,” since these metal-clad devices tend to feel more weighty and substantial when compared to the sorts of flimsy plastic bodies that many Android-friendly OEMs still cling to. I’ll be the first to admit that I prefer handsets that feel like they could withstand some abuse, though in fairness I’ve found that devices like the Galaxy S III and the Galaxy Note II can handle their fair share of turmoil despite having light, plastic bodies.
Granted, I can see how the choice of materials could prove to be occasionally problematic for the companies involved here. Crafting a device like the HTC One or an iPhone 5 out of aluminum can be more exacting (and therefore more time-consuming), not to mention more expensive than sticking with a less ornate body.
But here’s the thing — Samsung doesn’t need to play by those same rules. It’s an undeniable juggernaut in the smartphone space, and has proven ably over the past months and years that yes, people will often buy their smartphones even when faced with alternatives that arguably feel more premium. That’s not to say that Samsung will never rethink its position on the materials it uses. Lee concedes that the company “listen[s] to the market” and tries to accommodate it, so that sentiment could soon change if the masses demand it.