Samsung recently explained their design language for the Samsung Galaxy Alpha in a blog post on their website. Over the last few years Samsung has taken more criticism than most manufacturers for their use of plastic in their flagship models. Many expect metal in their flagship phones like the HTC One or the Apple iPhone, and complain mightily about devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note line or the Samsung Galaxy S line when the outer package is all plastic. The major complaint about Samsung phones and plastic is that they feel ‘cheap’.
In the blog post, Samsung mentioned that metal is nothing new to them. Samsung goes on to discuss how they previously used metal back in 2006 on the Card Phone(SGH-310). Many people forget that the iPhone 3G and 3GS were all plastic in addition to the iPhone 5c. Samsung claims they derived their design language for the Galaxy Alpha from the Card Phone which was known for its thinness, style and grip. They go onto explain why they use rounded corners on the Alpha – the weakest part of the smartphone are the corners, therefore rounded corners provide better durability against drops. The impact is lessened on a rounded corner vs a sharp corner. In addition to the rounded corners, Samsung also applied a special material where people hold their phones most frequently, creating an enhanced grip.
If you are a fan of Samsung phones like I am, you probably already appreciate their use of materials and design language. Plastic is lighter, more durable, and transfers less heat from the phone to your hand. Having a metal frame with a plastic back makes perfect sense for the Galaxy Alpha. Improve durability around the sides to help protect the phone when it is dropped (almost inevitable for some), and keep plastic on the back for improved durability, reduced weight, and fewer heat issues. In my opinion, Samsung has always made design a major factor and this recent blog post shows that they actually do care about the materials they use despite all of the heat they get for using plastic. Phones that are all metal tend to be heavier than plastic which lends itself to the idiom, ‘The bigger they are, the harder they fall’.