For a long time running, the construction of smartphones was a very simple thing: slap some glass on the front, some plastic on the back and smartphone was made. Over time, smartphone manufactures began developing and testing new form factors for smartphones. One of the more popular that was both widely accepted and rejected by different fanbases was the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S.
The iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S both used glass for the front of the phone as well as the back of the phone. These devices were still, none-the-less considered to be premium devices by many. Premium connotates a heightened sense of superiority when compared to another phone. Perhaps the premium feel was due to the fact that Apple was able to minimize seams, the fact that Apple encased the phone in glass or maybe, just maybe it was deemed premium because the antenna was now outside of the phone.
Which ever reason you decided to abide by, none of the reasons added any durability to the phone. The same thing can be said about the iPhone 5S as well. Being made from aluminum, the iPhone 5S feels like one of the most premium phones out there. It’s sleek, light weight but sturdy feeling body immediately gives any user that holds it a sense of superiority but the fact of the matter is that just because it feels like a premium device does not mean the materials used to make the iPhone 5S are the best quality for a smartphone’s intended use.
Let’s stop for a second so we can set some denotations for the rest of this article:
Premium: a sum above the nominal or par value of a thing.
- Example: The iPhone 5S is subjectively considered by many to be the premium option over the Galaxy S5 even though the materials used to make the casing of the iPhone 5S isn’t as durable to the materials on the Galaxy S5.
Quality: the standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something.
- Example: The Galaxy S5, while not made from materials that subjectively make the iPhone a premium device, is of higher quality due to the usage of polycarbonate which has durability properties better suited for a mobile phone.
For a long time I automatically associated premium to quality or durability. However, taking the Samsung vs Apple products into consideration, I realized the premium is not synonymous with quality or durability. A quick way to put this into perspective would be if someone considered a window made from glass to be of premium quality but we all know that should a hurricane come knocking, plastic would have been the higher quality choice in terms of durability in terms of selected usage.
Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S
It’s difficult to ague for or against when it comes to considering a product to be premium when compared to another. That’s because it is mostly subjective to the individual user which product may be the more premium option compared to another. For the sake of this article, we will assume that the general consensus is that the products Apple makes are of the premium nature. After all, if you want to convince a non-believer of your religion, you cannot do so using your holy book, instead you must use their own logic against them.
So what makes the iPhone 5S more of a premium device compared to the Galaxy S5? Mostly, the feel of the device.
Zach Epsteinn writes for BGR:
While the phone doesn’t feel like an expensive high-end device, Samsung certainly didn’t skimp on materials. As Samsung’s technical marketing manager Philip Berne noted in response to my tweet, the Galaxy S4 case uses “the same polycarbonate material used in Formula 1 cars and helmets.” This is not a cheap, flimsy material. This is a durable polycarbonate with plenty of science and R&D money behind it.
But it still feels cheap.
Metal natively just feels solid in the hand. It gives the impression your device being near indestructible. Plastic on the other hand offers a connotation of inferiority. Most of us wouldn’t trust our lives to plastic if we had the opportunity to do so with metal. So it makes sense that one would think that aluminum is the best choice for our smartphones. Sadly, this is far from the case (no pun intended).
Here’s a picture of the back of a $640 phone:
Now here’s a picture of the back of a $849 phone being bent:
Here’s a few reasons why aluminum isn’t the best choice to encase a phone in:
- Aluminum is metal and metal is very great at conducting heat. When anything gets hot, the particles start to expand and warp. Being made out of metal, heat can negatively affect the internal components of the iPhone.
- Aluminum conducts electricity. Since we all need to charge our phones at some point, we do make ourselves susceptible to the occasional electric shock. Reports have circulated that a woman was shocked and hospitalized while another was shocked and killed by having their iPhones conduct electricity from the outlet. You know what material doesn’t conduct electricity? Plastic.
- Metal cools faster than plastic. This sounds like a benefit, but it really isn’t. Apple released a statement saying that, with the 4th generation or later iPhones, one should “Operate iOS devices where the temperature is between 32º to 95º F. Low- or high-temperature conditions might temporarily shorten battery life or cause the device to alter its behavior to regulate its temperature.” But what’s so special about the 4th generation or later iPhones? The previous models were made with plastic.
Most of us buy plastic cases to put on our metal iPhones, anyway. That should say enough.
Here’s some cool reads around the web concerning plastic vs metal encasings:
This is the Back of a $640 phone | BGR
What’s Wrong with Plastic Smartphones? | PhoneDog
What’s Wrong with Plastic Smartphones | DroidLife
What’s Wrong with Plastic Smartphones, Does it Really Matter? | AndroidSPIN