Reuters is reporting that Samsung's head of mobile design, Chang Dong-hoon, has resigned following criticism over the design of the Galaxy S5. The phone's textured plastic back, though an improvement on earlier Samsung designs, failed to impress some critics. Lee Min-hyouk, vice president for mobile design, will take over the role; Reuters reports that Chang will continue to head up the company's design center, which oversees its broader design strategy.
Update: Samsung has confirmed that Chang Dong-hoon has not resigned, but moved to a new role within the company. His new position tasks the executive with heading up the Design Strategy Team. Statement after break.
As in previous years, Samsung's 2014 flagship has been unfavorably compared to high-end competitors, with the phone's plastic chassis being one of the main points of contention. Here's how we broke things down in our Galaxy S5 review —
In a world of HTC Ones and Xperia Z2s, the Galaxy S5 isn't the most visually awes-inspiring handset, nor does it break any new ground when it comes to materials or build quality. The GS5 looks like a plastic Samsung smartphone. It doesn't appear particularly exciting, but it is familiar, comfortable and ergonomic. [...]
But place the GS5 next to HTC or Sony's latest and Samsung's hardware doesn't exactly shine. Despite fixing the glaring quality issues with the GS4's back panel, the manufacturer doesn't seem to have challenged itself too much in the industrial design department. It does what it does well, sure. But if you're looking for sex appeal, you'll find it elsewhere.
While such a high-level departure could foretell significant design changes for the world's biggest phone maker, it's worth noting the sheer size of Samsung and its mobile product lineup. This means it could be some time before we see any new products directly influenced by the new design leadership.
Here is Samsung's statement on the position change for Dong-hoon:
"Vice President Min-hyouk Lee has recently been promoted to Head of Design Team within the Mobile Communications Business of Samsung Electronics. The realignment enables Executive Vice President Dong-hoon Chang to focus more on his role as Head of Design Strategy Team, the company's corporate design center which is responsible for long-term design strategy across all of Samsung Electronics' businesses, including Mobile Communications."