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Is metal really a better material than plastic on phones?

Nexus 5 was a beaut, too
Nexus 5 was a beaut, too (Image credit: Android Central)

As any follower of the smartphone industry knows, we're living in an age where OEMs are striving for all metal and glass designs in favor of cheaper materials, such as plastic. This is a trend we've seen from Samsung, LG, Google, and plenty others, and while glass and metal might subjectively be more attractive than plastic, are these materials really any better in day-to-day use?

One user on our forums shared his thoughts on how he wished Google had released an updated version of the Nexus 5 in favor of the Pixel 2 that we currently have, and this sparked a discussion of metal/glass vs. plastic when used on phones.

Here's what some people had to say:

The black Nexus 5 soft touch plastic was fantastic, we need to bring this back. So much better than aluminium. The 5 is a legend, the peak of the Nexus line IMO.

maxburn

I hate that we have to have breakable phones now because people think plastic is cheap. Sure, it can be cheap--like the ugly shiny plastic that Samsung used to use--but it can also look very nice and be very practical.

ultravisitor

I just don't get why people equate cheap with plastic? Some of the most beautiful and even high end products in the world are made out of plastic.

Zendroid1

Plastic seems to be the favorable material for most people, but there are still some users that like the move to metal/glass.

Meh the Nexus 5 looked and felt cheap, I'm happy with current crop of flagships which have more modern and much better build than few years back.

bhatech

Generally in engineering plastic is functional, not particularly stylish or high end. Whether it's headphones, cars, phones, or anything else, plastic is a very pedestrian (albeit necessary) material choice and no one really wants it on a $650+ phone

AustinIllini

Now, we pass the question on to you – Do you prefer phones made out of plastic or metal/glass?

Join the conversation in the forums!

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

174 Comments
  • I wish we'd bring back some high-end plastic phones. Plastic can be much more resilient than the materials phone makers typically use today.
  • https://www.androidcentral.com/att-htc-one-x-review Still my favorite designed phone of all time. I get it out every so often just to gawk at it.
  • I had the predecessor to this, the HTC Sensation. The polycarbonate (plastic) shells they made then were excellent. They had a premium touch to them and I want them back ...mainly so I can have wireless charging in my phone AND not have to worry about scratching or cracking the back (like with glass).
  • I was going through some old boxes and found my grey/black One X last week. Hit the power button and it powered on surprisingly. It was/is a great feeling phone.
  • I agree. The One X is still my favorite phone of the multiple I've owned as far as design goes.
  • yeah, design-wise it was cool, the plastic body is amazing, soft touch went off a bit, now mine is glossy, also it has what people call now 2.5d screen!!11 shame you couldn't apply any screen protector;/, Tegra SoC was **** though, no more, glad they moved out of smartphone market
  • Me too! I still have it in my drawer. This phone is one of the most beautiful phone I've used.
  • Just take a peek at the Lumias....Now THAT was peak plastic....what SNATCHING designs.
  • The Lumias were excellent. High end plastic that didn't feel cheap but still had that premium feel.
  • AAAANNND: Exchangable. Mozo covers were the best.
  • Everybody has there own priorities when it comes to smartphone features. And all phones have some degree of compromise. I'd be perfectly happy with plastic. I want a phone that has ideal size 5.7" to 6". Stereo speakers and headphone jack are a must. 720 or 1080P is fine. 32 GB of storage is more than enough, I could probably get by on 16. Snapdragon 625 or higher. A mediocre camera is fine and I'm not overly concerned about updates. Would prefer to stay in the $200-$400 range. The Moto G5+ is what I currently own. And it's close in some ways but it's small and the audio is poor without headphones. Most phones offer way more than I need in most areas and fail to offer what I value the most.
  • You must be psychic. I too own a Moto G5 Plus and I really love it!! I am one of those people who don't need all that crap on the phone because that's what my Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is for. I do my social media, emails, videos, ...etc. everything on it. My phone is just for calls, texting, GPS occasionally other things when I'm out. I don't need wireless charging, waterproofing, Google or Android pay, excessive MP's on cameras....etc., and I don't care if it's metal or not. In fact I think plastic is better because it's better to handle not slippery and they can also shape it anyway they want to. (Most people that want all that crap on phones aren't doing anything but driving prices up for amenities that they will not use, but rather to have something to brag about).
  • I loved the galaxy S3 and $4. I had no problems with them being made of plastic. If they can do that and make them water proof still or maybe better I have no problems going back to it. They are going to anyway. With phones becoming more and more bendable what choices are there?
    This is all marketing anyway, oooh look, all metal design..but wireless charging won't work. Oooh look all glass design, wireless works, they can be made water proof buy they are fragile as hell, are more finger print magnets than ever and they feel funny to the touch.
    Marketing people, it's all marketing and we are all robots buying what we are told!
  • LG and HTC's high end expensive ($600 or above) phones are the best when it comes to audio quality. However in the budget segment, Lenovo is the best when it comes to audio (speaker quality particularly). Phones like Lenovo P2 & K8 Note Cost less than $200 have very good speakers thanks to Dolby ATMOS technology.
  • I loved the first Nexus 6, remake that with high end specs And don't do that terrible 2:1 aspect ratio
  • 2:1 aspect ratio is called 18:9 nowadays. And they manage to fool all the masses that can't do math.
  • I really miss plastic phones. I liked them better. With advancing in tech there's no reason they can't make extremely durable plastic phones and maybe mix it with tough composite materials like Motorola did previously with Kevlar. I still would really like to see some form of carbon fiber. Extremely tough and light weight.
  • That Moto Kevlar like stuff was my favorite feel on a phone, wasn't cold and hard like metal, wasn't fragile and smudgy like glass, wasn't cheap feeling like some plastics. Perfect imo.
  • Yes - Love the look, feel, durability - and uniqueness via motomaker - of my DT2. I also still carry its predecessor, a Nokia Lumia Icon/930. Its polycarb back is still scratchless after nearly 4 years with no case. Oh, and wireless charging also.....
  • I loved the samsung phones before the s6. Even though the note 4 had some metal and was less durable in terms of bending unlike the note 3, it still looked great as a hybrid and the note 3 looked great too.
  • Metal without the glass like the V20.💪💪 Durable and doesn't shatter into a thousand pieces if you drop it. Plus still removable battery as well.
  • Might get flamed for this but it's a shame we don't have options like we used to in Android... I remember the days when HTC specialized in Audio quality. Samsung did removable batteries and SD card support. The Nexus phones had (still have!) Vanilla Android with consistent updates. Seems like every manufacturer wants to be the same instead of different and there's no way to get removable batteries, IR Blasters, keyboards (Very limited), and quickly dwindling, headphone jack.
  • Uh Samsung phones still have SD cards, and their midrange models still have removable batteries. Same with LG for that matter.
  • There's nothing wrong with premium plastic for phones. The old Nokia lumias for example had excellent build quality. It's the dumbass reviewers on tech sites like this, that one day decided only phones made from metal can be considered premium and started bashing any phones that weren't metal. The same BS is happening all over again with the bezeless crap!! And it's brainwashed most users on here into thinking a phone is not good enough because it doesn't have minimal bezels. Can't wait to see what the trend is for next year's phones *sigh*
  • AMEN!!
  • preach it!
  • I agree. The LG G4 I'm using now is plastic & works fine, wireless charging and all. My EVO 4G LTE was part metal/plastic. Never owned a glass backed phone.
  • The G4 with black leather back is still to this day my favorite phone. I didn't have any bootloop issues like some, and man. The Feel in the hand was second to none.
  • My G4 (w/black leather back) is still running strong after 2+ years, don't mind its "plastic" build one bit.
  • That is what I was saying when this started happening. Who was complaining at that time but the sites. I think not only are the plastic phones more durable but would help bring the cost of phones down some since these materials are cheaper. It also helps keep the weight down so I would hope to have bigger batteries like we used to. I liked the feel of those phones a lot better and I can definitely say they survived a lot better than the current phones.
  • 100% agree.
  • Exactly how I feel. Mac
  • While I agree with many of your points, some of these big shifts have resulted in new "must haves". Waterproofing, dual cameras, QHD, and wireless charging to name a few.
  • I think the "must haves" you listed aren't really that. The beauty of android means there are plenty of choices out there if those features are must haves for you. But the main point is all these features would work great in a well designed plastic phone for a lot cheaper than today's ridiculous prices. You can't even have one of your "must haves" wireless charging in the supposably superior all metal phones.
  • But do we truly have options like we used to though? Sure we can find an Android that suits our needs at any price point but we have steadily been missing features like IR blasters, Removable batteries, Keyboards (very limited), and dwindling, the headphone jack. Granted I don't use half the features I just typed but there are certainly people who wish they did and it makes me kinda sad.
  • I’ve seen lots of midrange phones with removable batteries.
  • I was wondering if someone remembered the old Lumias. The premium one that Nokia made with the single milled piece of polycarbonate was absolutely gorgeous. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages. Just depends on what you're looking for out of a phone I suppose.
  • 100% Correct.
  • I think plastic got a bad rap because of companies like Samsung that couldn't make a quality plastic phone to save their life. Plastic can have fantastic build quality and feel really great in the hand if done properly, it is way easier to hold onto than glass or aluminum and you don't have any issues with signals getting through it. That being said, I don't see plastic making a comeback in any meaningful way unfortunately, not on high end sets at least.
  • 1. Plastic feels like cheap crap
    2. Plastic is not more durable than metal
    3. Plastic scratches and basically rubs away over time
    4. My Nexus 5x looks like it went through a warzone and my Nexus 6p looks brand new.
  • You treat your phone like crap, it will look like crap.
  • I assume you had a cheap/crap looking less durable than metal "plastic" case protecting for 6p right?
  • My Lumia 920 disagrees with you
  • And I've also had a long list of Lumia's that also disagree with you. Those Polycarbonate phones were some of the most premium, solid and robust phones I've ever held. I'd take a modern phone in the body of a Lumia over anything out right now.
    Metal phones dent, bend, scratch, paint fades or flakes.
    Glass phones smash, scratch, shatter and crack.
  • Yep. This. I defy anyone to say the Lumia 1020/1520 weren't premium feeling phones. Obviously if you define premium as metal or glass then you're part of the problem. Give me a modern phone in the body of a 1520 and I'll take it over everything.
  • 1. Cheap plastic feels like cheap crap. Good plastic feels great.
    2. Plastic and metal are durable in different ways. Plastics can take flexion stress far better than metal, with no indication of having suffered stress afterwards where the metal will show bends or indentation.
    3. Plastic will typically scratch more easily than metal, agreed. But I'd rather have a phone on which the back was scratched than bent - the latter being more likely to damage components and reduce overall structural integrity to a greater degree going forward. As to rubbing away, if you're speaking of the actual material thinning over time, I'd agree, if you keep it in abrasive environments it could become noticeable in under 50 years. My Nexus 6 looks like it did on day 1. Same with my 4 year old Nexus 7 tablet. You must be rough on your stuff... Going onward... 5. Metal is more expensive to mold and produce, leading to costlier phones that don't perform any better.
    6. Metal has a disruptive effect on radio performance to a far greater degree than plastic.
    7. Metal obstructs current wireless charging methods to a far greater degree than plastic.
    8. Left in direct sunlight (not optimal in any case, but it happens), metal bodies absorb far more heat, one of the greatest enemies of electronic devices in terms of long term performance.
  • I think one of the big reasons why metal/glass phones sell much better is that most people tend to by flash and sparkle over practicality, even if they would actually prefer the sensible solution. (as has been said for a long time - what is the point of a beautiful metal/glass phone if you are just going to slap a case on it?!). That and marketing of course. I would love to see a return to high quality plastics with good grip that will not even need a case.
  • It will still need a case lol
  • Why?
  • Because people. They buy a phone with double gorilla glass 7 and the first thing they do is they put a thin plastic on the screen to "protect it".
  • Nope. Used my Nexus 5 for 3 years and didn't drop it once. Why? Because it was rubbery, and the edges (where I hold onto the phone) were too. And it wasn't too big. No need for a case. Every phone should be made with the same material.
  • Once you get a case on those nice glass-backed phones so they won't shatter when you fumble the phone, who can tell? And guess what the case is made of ;-) Nothing wrong with a plastic phone body if it's done right.
  • Yep, well said.
  • Exactly! For the vast majority of people who use a case, what difference does it make? I never had a problem with a plastic phone, but then again, I've always used a case.
  • Why don't you have polls on stuff like this?
  • The LG V10 was the best (exterior wise) and most durable feeling phone I've ever owned, and I've had a lot of phones. It was the ONLY phone since my Palm Treo 700p that I felt confident using without a case. I think the bloggers ruined everything by focusing so much on the details of exterior design. Phones should be made to take the abuse experienced throughout the day. I remember when I got the HTC One M7. The reviewers loved it but it was so fragile feeling and got super hot. While it was nice to look at from the back (the front bezels were ridiculous, speakers notwithstanding), it was form over function.
  • Well, that last comment in the article begs a question . . "No one really wants plastic on a $650 phone" - it the point is that the phone wouldn't have to cost 650 if more reasonable (practical) materials were used. I agree plastic *can* look and feel cheap, but it doesn't *have* to.
  • Like my Nexus 6, which retailed for $650 new in 2014 and is still running like a top today, and which barely has a scratch on it cuz it's been in one case or another pretty much the whole time I've owned it? As long as the phone had a solid framework and the specs I value, I'd buy another "plastic" flagship in a NY minute .
  • Plastic, removable battery, removable bloat , headphone jack, affordable , supported and updated for 3 years....... I can dream can't I?
  • I'd have to agree. I don't want glass, smudges, prone to breaking, doesn't feel nice. Just doesn't make sense to me. My KeyOne has a nice soft touch back that I love, and I really don't think it takes away from the aesthetics. And it feels nicer than metal. Just my opinion.
  • My Nexus 5 was legit, and I loved how the textured (almost rubber like) back felt. It was a great phone and good example of how you can do a great phone inexpensively...
  • I also had the Nexus 5 and felt great in my hand. It remained mint looking when I sold it. If I recall this Nexus had a metal frame so it didn't look cheap at all. This is actually my favorite combo: a metal frame with a good ol textured back like on the Nexus 5 and Note 4 (which replaced my Nexus 5).. Motorola's approach with their Droid Razr was also great, I had the Razr Maxx with the Kevlar back, I was using it naked and held just fine.
  • Can you imagine someone just a few years ago saying "gee, I wish they made phones out of glass" . . Most people would have thought them to be an idiot. But a company puts it out there, the reviewers fawn over it as "premium", runs down normal stuff as "old school design" and there you have it . . It's the "emperor has no clothes" effect, imo.
  • I prefer soft touch. It allows signal to get through really well including wireless charging, it's durable and can easily look new after years without using a case and it feels nice. My favorite phones were plastic (Nexus 5, Nexus 5X, Nexus S and Galaxy S3). My least favorite were some metal glass/plastic hybrid combo (Pixel, HTC Evo LTE). Most people cover them with cheap feeling rubber/plastic cases so what is the point of using metal or glass?
  • Give me a carbon fibre or ceramic or well made polycarbonate structure phone. The screen doesn't even need to be glass. I have a feeling this will start to happen soon in any case.
    I like the idea of a rubberized phone with the specs of a current highend phone like my Note 8.
  • "no one really wants it on a $650+ phone" Yet we slap a plastic case on the phone, smh what a dumb statement.
  • This
  • Not all of us use a case.
  • Phones now cost so much because of the material. If we had a Pixel 2 XL with a plastic build same internals it would probably cost $500-$600
  • I've been saying this for years. When our phones were plastic and rubber reviewers/people complained. Said it looked cheap. Said it didn't look premium enough. Now they make them with glass and metal. And now we say, "Oooh look at how premium that looks..." and then we go ahead and encase them in plastic and rubber. Silliness. Bring back the more durable designs please.
  • Right on...
  • The Nokia Windows phones, specifically the 920 and 1020 were plastic, felt premium, looked premium and were very durable. I wouldn't mind a return to that sort of plastic.
  • Absolutely. Best designed phones ever in my opinion. Hardware AND the OS.
  • In an odd course of situations, I ended up having a Nexus 5 for a research study on behavior. It's being used for simple data entry on a daily basis with a single app on the phone. I never owned a 5 but always pinned over it. I currently have the Note 8 and feel like I'm going to break it. After picking up the Nexus 5 is feels comfortable and yet has a heft to it that makes me less likely to break it in the case of a simple drop.
    In some ways it's very nostalgic to have to pick this phone up daily and use it, even for the simple task of data entry.
    So for me the p
    Rubberised plastic feel of the Nexus 5 was truly the pinnacle of plastic durable design and comfort
  • Metal is stupid. Give me a phone built like a Lumia 920 please.
  • The only thing I ever hear about plastic is, that it feels cheap. However, I have also had people, on some phones, could not tell if it was metal or plastic. Phone companies put glass on phones, assuming over plastic, so it feels "premium". Because it is glass, then you need to have a case on it. Metal is horrible for phones, can't have wireless charging and it is not good for radio antennas. Glass is fragile, regardless of the type. I prefer plastic, it works better and stands up better than glass. Since I always have a case on my phone, I could care less if it feels "premium".
  • Driving up the cost of the phones by just trying to copy Apple design and to aquire their customers is the reason, and the complicity of the tech writers is the means used. My Nokia 1520 and 1020 had the best plastic cases on them that I have ever seen and would have no problem with purchasing a flagship phone with a similar case, but I wouldn't pay 1k for it or any other flagship for that price. That's the motivating reason why they switched to metal and glass.. Not enough profit. It's not about value or durability and the same can be said about sealing the phone and doing away with the removable battery. That said there are some excellent glass and metal backed phones out but they all could be made of plastic and still be as functional as their counter parts. As long as the tech writers continue to berate any phone that doesn't copy Apple or Samsung design and material choices I doubt that we will ever see high end flagship phones with plastic backs and removable batteries again. Mac
  • Eh, I think we will see them again. Some company that has been priced out of the market will take a chance on a durable, plastic design. And all the reviewers who just 3 years ago railed against cheap, plastic phones, will go nuts over it.
  • I still want to know how we were all hoodwinked into thinking aluminum, one of the cheapest metals you can buy at $0.73 a pound, is a 'premium' material. I've seen people say it's more premium than magnesium and magnesium is three times the price of aluminum.
  • Because they use terms like "7000 series" and "aircraft grade" instead of coke cans and Reynolds wrap. Lol.
  • After RTFA: "I wonder what my phone is made of?". Pick up phone, feel the back and go "plastic". Then I realize it's in a case and I say "I wonder what my phone is made of?"
  • Despite that my white Nexus 5 is 4 years old at this writing, it's still being used by my brother-in-law halfway across the world. I miss that simplicity with that phone, the texture of the soft-touch plastic, and that it can be wirelessly charged. If Google came out with a phone with great internal specs, yet the same kind of inexpensive minimalist exterior like my Nexus 5 (or hell, like my Nexus One), I'd buy that in a heartbeat.
  • Most of us prefer to have a cover/case four our phones. So why bother about the 5% of phone real estate that shows.
  • It's not about that. It's about what looks good in a showroom/presentation full of nerds and tech people.
  • Function > Form for me most any day. There are exceptions of course but in general I'd rather have durable and functional rather than pretty & broken (after I drop it). Plus I'm going to put a case on it anyway.
  • Five years of slamming plastic phones for not having "a premium feel," and now "they were never really bad in the first place?" Most of the reason we're stuck with these heavy, breakable materials is because reviews have obsessed over the look and feel of the part of a phone you're most likely to cover with a case. And the fancier that back gets, the more necessary it is to slap a $10 case over it-- I had to put a case on my Samsung tablet not to protect it, but because the back and sides were so damn slippery that it kept slipping off my lap when I tried to use it in bed. That was never an issue with my Nexus 9. If you're serious about this topic, then walk the walk-- stop weighing judgement on the materials used to make the back of the phone.
  • Im glad this article was written. It makes no sense to me to pay a premium for materials that look and feel nice but decrease the utility and function. These thin metal phones are a bad combination of slippery and fragile. I would like to see a lot more phones like the Samsung Active line that focuses on battery and durability.
  • How about devices that do not break if you look at them sideways? I don't care about the material, just how life resistant the device is. A moment of slight carelessness should not cost hundreds of dollars. With the most recent releases, it's gotten to a point where the most expensive phone is the least durable. Anyone who is actually paying for the device and is not innumerate will stay away. Reminds me of the Billy Crystal skit on Fernando. It's far better to work marvelous than to just look marvelous.
  • I really do miss the soft touch plastics used on the Nexus 7 and Nexus 5. I wouldn't mind seeing them brought back
  • Galaxy Nexus is still my favorite looking phone. Good times.
  • I prefer a device that's not so slippery that I feel the need to use a case on it, regardless of the material. Who cares if a phone has a unibody titanium chassis and costs $900 but most people use it inside a $15 TPU case because it's so slippery they would drop it a lot, and it would break without the case to break the fall?
  • Bingo.
  • Why can't they make a phone out of plastic that looks like glass?!
  • Because Samsung or LG will do it with cheap-looking plastic, cram it full of specs for the MOARCORES crowd, and charge eleventy million dollars for it, and then lots of people will start screaming about how cheap it looks.
  • With my current Pixel I notice the body get very hot to touch while using it in Daydream and also when I hit the sauna at gym. I'm not sure if the body material plays a role in this but I don't think other phone manufacturer users have this issue in sauna as I see folks on their iPhones with no visible issue using their phones. I can barely function with the Pixel in this environment.
  • Yes !!
  • I LOVE this article. After plastic makes it's comeback it's time for flat screens and 3.5mm headphone jacks to rise again.
  • As wireless charging continues to get more popular, I think maybe we'll see more plastic phones. Can't do metal back if you want wireless charging, and the flagships are all doing glass backs so they can be pretty, but I could see the cheaper models going to plastic in order to do wireless charging. My Moto X Pure was plastic on the back with aluminum on the sides. It was a nice textured plastic and felt good, but it wasn't particularly interesting to look at. Not that I really care about such things. I used a slim gray smoked TPU case. It was fine. Basically a nondescript slab with a big screen. I now have a Galaxy S7 Edge, the silver one, and I must admit it's a very pretty phone. I only have this color because it's the only color available on the unlocked version. I still use a case, but I picked a fancy Spigen Neo Hybrid that's crystal clear so I can see the pretty shiny phone through it, but gives enough protection at the corners. A lot of folks want to hold a pretty shiny object, especially for the money these things cost. But ultimately, I'm practical. I don't actually care whether my next phone is all pretty and iridescent silver like this one. It's not the reason why I bought the S7E. But while I have it, sure, might as well get a case that shows it off.
  • Plastic all the way.
    Plastic has many advantages like:
    - Removable battery (I remember some back covers that would accommodate larger batteries)
    - No RF interference (no need to dodge internal antennas, or wireless charging circuits)
    - Extra resistance when dropped (more flexibility) and dampens energy transmition to front glass (less likely to break front glass)
    - Replaceable covers (user can "refurbish" parts of phone to make it look new
    - Lighter
    - Neutral temperature sensation to the skin (not cold or hot to the touch)
    - Cheaper to make Plastic Cons:
    - Reduced heat dissipation (I suggest making just part of phone in metal - possible the frame or just part of the back to work as heat sink) So in the end I would really prefer a Pixel 2 made of plastic and I would pay the same for it (then I know it would be better)
  • I'm cool with matte finish polycarbonate but I prefer metal backs. I hate all these glass and ceramic backs. I like to use my phone without a case and I also hate having it covered in fingerprints so the matte finish plastics and metals were the best for me. Glass and ceramic look great...until you touch them.
  • The word "pedestrian" definitely applies to plastic. IMO, its use in a (premium) device should be sparing at most. Completely plastic - without so much as a metal accent - is not the way to go. There are good ways to mix plastic and metal if that's where future trends lie. And why not throw fibreglass or carbon into the mix, too? Admittedly, use of glass for anything but the screen might have been a mistake. But, SORRY, completely plastic will never have a place in high-end devices ever again.
  • After a few minutes of admiring my new phone I turn to the process of using it. Although I prefer a "naked" phone the new designs are usually hard to handle so you need a tempered glass screen protector (saved me more than once) and some kind of case - I prefer minimal protection so they don't get too big. I really didn't mind the plastic on my S3, S4, or S5 (although that phone really overheated a lot). Same for the LG G2, G4 - no problem with the plastic. On my current LG G5 the metal case has a real sharp edge on it that I can't use naked. I really care about how it feels and plastic vs glass vs metal doesn't really matter - don't really like the double glass phones - 2x the threat when dropped.
  • i don't see anything wrong with plastic. Actually its very durable and practical. And it's an opportunity to save a litlte cost - and that's a good thing in this day of $1000 flagship phones.
  • I'm more than willing to accept plastic if it gets me the same caliber of cell phone for $250.00 that others have spent nearly a thousand dollars for, couldn't agree more with you. I don't know anyone, other than my brother and sister-in-law, who've paid more than probably $250.00 for a cell phone... Unibody metal/glass construction isn't everything...
  • There are quite a few reasons people pay more the $250
  • Having been a Nokia Windows Phone user for years, I can confidently say that the Lumia 920 and 1520 that I owned were of excellent build quality and much more durable than any premium Android device I've ever owned. Build quality was also much better than the likes of the Nexus 5 which always looked and felt cheap to me
  • My lumia 800 and 730 still looks good even today. I really like their designs and usage of polycarbobate.
  • Just don't give me glass. I loved the look and feel of aluminum on my Nexus 6P. I don't mind high-end plastic.
  • I generally don't mind plastic so long as it doesn't betray that it's obviously made of plastic, meaning that the fit and finish is really good. I mean we live in a very plastic world. The economy car that I drive is made of plastic, it got bumped in traffic and the plastic bumper absorbed the less than five mph impact with only some paint scrape of damage whereas a metal bumper would've had to have been replaced (we only had to repaint the bumper - it was cheap and the other guy's insurance paid for it..). The dash in my economy car is plastic but the finish on it makes it look like leather and it's put together very well with the rest of the dash... So far as cellphones are concerned, as long as it doesn't look like a toy from Mattel or Fisher Price then generally I'm good with it. I'm much more interested in the fit and finish outside and also the hardware and software contained inside than having to have the necessarily best appearance. Considering how clumsy some of us are, we're very likely to put a case over it for its protection (a cheap but nice looking gel case saved my device twice in three months - onto vinyl tile face first and onto brick corner first...) thereby negating whether it's plastic, glass or metal... Some of us are also very likely to put a case or decals, from a manufacturer like D-Brands, over our phone to change the appearance of a boring or older phone. I've been thinking about it myself but I'm not sure, which is the beauty of a case or decals cause you can easily change your mind later...
  • Polycarbonate material is great for phones, like the Lumias had. Even the plastic phones were fine. Functional and resilient. Never had to use a case till I started owning metal and glass built phone. Now the only time I see the actual phone is when I take out the phome from the case to clean it. It's all about cases now.
  • The 1020 was the most premium phone I have ever owned....it was amazing compared to even new galaxy and iPhone phones with the glass crap. the 1020 was the best hardware I have owned in mobile.
  • THIS THIS THIS. The Lumia 1020 felt like an artifact from the future. I never once put it in a case over two years of using it, and it still looks practically new..
  • Everyone loves glass backs till they drop their phone and it cracks. Everyone loves metal backs till they drop their phone and it dents. And what do people put on their phones to protect it? Plastic. Seriously, I understand the beauty of metal and glass. I've had plastic, metal, and glass. But when you weigh the pros and cons, plastic is actually the best material for phones. It doesn't shatter, allows for wireless charging and most important for me- it saves a lot of weight. Plus, I'm tired of picking up my phone and feeling it's fragility. Feel free to disagree, but don't critize plastic when it's the smarter choice. It may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, or feel as expensive, but it does offer the least compromises.
  • My old Samsung GS3 maybe was ugly, but it was also nearly bulletproof. That phone bounced off the ground many times, and a phone like the S7 would have been toast, and a metal bodied phone a dent and scratch disaster. I still use an old Nexus 5 as a music player at the gym, and it's far less slippery than anything I've seen or used since. But sites like Android Central have no one to blame but themselves for the fragile phones we have today. For years AC and the rest of the blogoshpere whined about "cheap, plastic phones," and sang the praises of "premium" materials. We got exactly what you guys asked for. Thanks for nothing.
  • Good quality of plastic would always be better.
  • I'd prefer plastic, with a removable battery. I've always used a case on my phones, anyways.
  • I fly aeroplanes made from "plastic", they are light and strong. They flex and are easy to repair...
    Not a fan of glass or metal, the more rigid something is, the higher the risk of breaking it... Glass backs are the stupidest thing ever, for something that gets handled so often and is at risk of being dropped, sat on, jammed in places, scratched...
  • And yet the ones I fly in are made from metal.
  • @crosswhite, chuckles, I fly metal ones too, and like with phones, great deal of debating happens in aviation regarding this same thing.
    I flew the metal one this morning in fact and it was great! 😊
  • My good ole Nexus 4 was all glass with a plastic frame. So many people busted their's, but not me. It looks as pristine as the day I got it in 2013. My personal preference is metal. In my opinion it looks the best. But, I've been rocking a 2014 Moto X for the last 2 and a half years with a metal frame, and black leather back that still is very unique in the smartphone world. I will be going back to all glass though soon when I get the Moto X4 Android One version.
  • I've had no issues with my plastic Nexus 5x's look and feel. I don't miss aluminum or glass...also only phone I've never broken.
  • I currently have a Note8, and it resides in an Otterbox Defender case, most of the time. I like to rock it naked on long weekends. And for those who think I carry my Note8 in a case because it is glass/metal, I had my BlackBerry Curve in an Otterbox. That was all plastic, so explain that.
  • So is the tl;dr that you don't care what it's made out of? Cool, you only use Otterbox. 'grats
  • If you want to carry your plastic phones around in an Otterbrick, then that's on you, but not everyone else wants to or likes to use a case on his or her phone because they're scared of how breakable it is.
  • Right now I have a Nexus 5X (next week maybe a S8 or I could wait for a Pixel 2), before my 5X I Had a Nexus 5 and damn!, how I miss that style and design!, I had a few Nexus devices and the 5 was by far the best and more confortale phone that Google made; my N5X looks really nice, yeah, everybody says that it looks beautifull (in a transparent Ringke Slim case) but I miss kevlar and that sensation that only Motorola and the Nexus 5 gave me I have a iPad Air 2, "so premium", and. I have to take care it like a baby, it got scratches soooooooo damn easy that I check it once a week for new scratches... Phones with glass, like S6, S7, S8 are really nice, but, they are extremely slippery, I had an accident with a S8+, and thanks god It didnt break!, it slipped from my hands in just one second!, they have a very bad grip, and I was sure that it would never happen to me lol!.
  • I honestly don't care. Whatever my phone is made out of, I'm certain it was chosen in order for wireless charging to perform best. (no, I don't use wireless charging... Sold the free one that came as a preorder freebie) My phone is in an Otter Box Defender case, and I could not be more pleased. The Note 8 Defender Otter Box is a huge improvement on the same model I had on my Note 5.
  • I'll consider a phone as long as it doesn't have a glass back since I rarely put a case on any of my device. I do love rubber-textured plastic with metal frame. Its grippy yet nice to touch.
  • I loved the plastic on my 5C. It was great.
  • Actually the galaxy s5 was really bad...
  • Phone material isn't really a concern for me, all i want is the phone to look good
  • It amazes me that everyone loves the look of metal and glass, and then they immediately put a $10 rubber/plastic case on the thing and then you can see what you liked in the first place. Give me a nice looking phone with a plastic back, with a rubberized coating to make it slip resistant and I will be happy.
  • A clear case can still show the beauty of the phone
  • Just like one person said in an earlier comment, it's a reviewers problem!! These so-called reporters always talking about it was cheap and plastic looking and all this other stuff. I REFUSE TO BUY A PHONE WITH A GLASS BACK! I really don't care, I prefer plastic or some derivative of plastic. And what really difference does it make because 95% of people will end up putting a cover over the phone anyway.
  • Well, my Galaxy S5 would like to say " I told you so." After everyone whined about it's being made of plastic.
  • What the phone is made of is irrelevant to me. I just want something that has a good grip, great signal, great shape/size (definitely a fan of the thinner 2:1 ratio), and doesn't get hot in the hand. Performance obviously matters as well. All these metal frames are leading to issues connecting to Bluetooth (Pixel...) and WiFi. The only phone that has really been impressive in terms of external design is the Essential Phone. That ceramic back and added weight really make me feel like I would enjoy the phone a lot.
  • I loved the feel of my V10. The rubberized back felt really nice when combined with the stainless steel rails. This was the best combination of materials in my opinion.
  • A cellphone is a tool. If you view it as a status symbol, then no amount of logic will change your mind.
    The soft touch back on my Moto X Pure Edition was comfortable and very grippy. In other word, functional.
    How can that be a bad thing?
  • There's nothing wrong with it. But of course some people might say otherwise.
  • Me thinks this was a trend escalated by the success of the iPhone. Every one - manufacturers and reviewers alike wanted products to look like the most popular kid in school. Glass backs IMHO are not a good idea. Slippery, cold, finger print magnets. Metal does not allow wireless charging though it does enhance heat dissipation. Metal reinforced frames though do make sense from an industrial design perspective. Phone bodies designed out of synthetic composites are / were still the best. Calling all of them plastic does make it sound cheap but you have a wide range of materials to choose from with respect to cost (cheap or premium) as well as aesthetics. Surfaces can be designed for correct grip. Edges / corners can be engineered to absorb impact. Reinforced bodies for strength or weight factors using aramids (kevlar) or carbon fibre. The list is endless. Metal / synthetic composites. Leather / textile ( suede like) synthetic composites are also an option. If a phone needs to be wrapped up in a "plastic" case the whole argument about premium materials is moot. It's like having an expensive leather sofa in your den or living room shrink wrapped in see through vinyl for day to day usage.
  • If it's removable it's not water resistant
  • Its all market perception, Android switched over to aluminum because Iphone used aluminum. Plastic is perceived as cheap material, but if you call it metalyzed Kevlar or ballistic nylon, as Moto did with OG Droid Turbo series in 2014, there you go premium plastic :)
  • Most Android devices use glass
  • I have also been wondering if any Mfg has used real carbon fiber for back construction, or would it be cost prohibitive? Perhaps its time for a known aeronautic composite material that has the strength of metal but allows wireless charging.
  • AGREED - a mobile phone should be designed to be easy to hold and avoid dropping and if dropped not to crack or dent. These aren't museum pieces. They should be designed to be used easily and safely and be durable enough to survive the inevitable. It seems so often to be the focus of many phone reviewers - the look - the "feel in the hand" - the "premium materials" and I wonder if the majority of users care that much about it. I always figured reviewers get so bored with phones that look and feel the same that "premium materials" are a welcome change and grab their attention. I wonder if the attention given this aspect of new phones has prompted the move of most major OEMs to try and outdo each other in this area. Of course - maybe most users get attracted to metal and glass and they sell better. Still doesn't make it the right choice. And so I use a case and try to get as close the feel of the Nexus 5 as possible.
  • Precisely my thoughts.
  • No, metal isn't better.
    Yes, I still use my Nexus 5. :-)
    Until now it has been standing up to the newcomers. But I think it is about time to start looking for a replacement.
  • People are missing the point of the user's comment, which I agree with wholeheartedly. It's not that we no longer have plastic phones, we do, it's that in the past the Nexus line used plastic and it allowed a flagship to be much cheaper. These days, a large chunk of what you pay for with a Pixel, is the premium materials. If metal and glass were indeed superior to plastic in terms of durability (they're not) the story may be different, and this complaint would be invalid, but in this they're only superior in look and feel. Some of us, put cases on our phones, so that we can protect them better, especially the screen. We don't care what the phone looks like because it will get covered up before we ever take it out in public. For those of us, use of these "premium" materials in flagships, is a punishment:
    - Metal and glass phones are more expensive
    - Metal phones don't do wireless charging
    - Metal and glass phones are less durable than plastic phones since metal scratches, deforms, and passes shock waves along in drops. Glass backed are more immune to scratching, but easily shatter the glass on the body even if the screen is fine. Jury's out on the ceramic backed phones like the Essential and how well that holds up relative to glass. If LG went back and used the old Nexus 5 platform, kept the same old body but upgraded to an SD835, newer camera like the one used in the Pixel 2, kept screen same size and just switched to an OLED panel at 1080, found ways to increase battery capacity, it would be the perfect phone for many of us... and will surely be cheaper than the base Pixel 2. Such a phone would sell like hot cakes. Flagship without the premium material bs, easy to get into and replace components if needed.
  • The cost of plastic for a phone is similar to that of metal and glass for a phone.
  • Can you please provide more information in regards to this? I'm not saying you're wrong, it just seems that way. Aluminum/Titanium are not cheap, at all. Machining those materials requires additional equipment and energy resources. I can't speak for the glass costs, but the medium is more fragile and requires different techniques to cut/assemble and additional treatments that the plastic wouldn't. That all being said, even if they cost more to produce, it doesn't justify the increase in prices we see when these "premium" materials are used, so I will agree with you in the sense that we're overpaying regardless.
  • Phones are getting too expensive so it is time to go back to cheaper build materials. People just end up putting them into plastic cases anyway.
  • Manufacturers wouldn't do that though.. Materials that are PERCEIVED as less premium, therefore decreasing price affects profit.
  • This reminds me of a discussion I had with a buddy of mine over toys. He said, back in the good old days toys were built to last.. they were made out of metal. Nowadays toys are made to break. Whether it's a comparison of matchbox/hotwheels cars or action figures. The ones of old definitely outlasted those of today. Granted, those metal toys of yesterday would cost a lot more to make today and we live in a pretty disposable society nowadays. Tech moves so fast that things don't need to be made to last. Still, I prefer metal. I like my phone to have some heft & definition. I always felt like a plastic phone was more of a toy, even if the specs inside were top notch. I remember when i got my first iPod (classic) with the silver metal back, how it felt so solid and made to last. My 'Creative' mp3 player on the other hand was mostly plastic. It didn't look or feel premium. I'd dropped both of them at some stage. The iPod dented a bunch but kept on ticking...the creative broke to pieces. I think that's one of the main differences in materials.
    Granted, we could fast forward to today/tomorrow to high end cars which are using carbon fiber reinforced plastics and still have that 'premium' look and feel. I wouldn't be surprised if phone manufactures start to go down that path. I guess as long as we need to update/upgrade our phones every 1..5 - 2 years (thanks to non-removable batteries) plastic is OK. If I were going for a phone that was going to last for 4-5 years I'd want one built to last... from metal/glass/ceramic. Also, with the premium comes the premium price tag some customers are willing to pay. I think manufacturers should make a model with the same features in both plastic and glass/metal etc. at different price points based on the materials. Let the customer decide.
  • I was thinking the same thing, a plastic cheaper variant with a removable back/battery. For example, Samsung use to release cheaper Neo variants of its flagships (the last being s5 neo). The Samsung galaxy alpha was definitely their best designed smartphone using plastic w/ metal frame. Regardless, I'm very happy with my current beautiful phone (S8) even though it's fragile, I just have to be super careful!.
  • Nokia made their Lumia line with carbon fiber plastic shells. This is the way phones should be made. They can literally stop a bullet. https://www.inquisitr.com/1235075/nokia-lumia-520-stops-a-bullet-saves-t...
  • Man I miss my yellow Nokia lumia 920. When I saw that phone I instantly fell in love!. Sux battery life though.
  • I loved the Nexus 5, 6, old HTC's & many lumias specially the 935. Don't understand why almost everyone wants a metal or glass phone if 90% of them end up with a skin or case.
  • Depends....I would like to see something in carbon fiber
  • Nexus 5 was a pleasure to use, the ergonomics were fantastic, the chin was actually useful for gripping and holding the phone with one hand, because the screen wasn't any bigger than it needed to be, the sides of the phone where slightly tapered inwards, which made the phone very easy to wield and on top of it all, it was actually light, 130g, not like some current phones that give you cramps if you hold them for too long. Fantastic body design, just wish there was a company that would refresh the internals of old phones, I'd send my Nexus 5 to get a second lease of life in a heart beat.
  • This.
  • Metal, HTC10 is ideal
  • I don't really see the reason for debate. I use a protective case and can honestly say I don't remember the last time I saw a phone, other than at the mobile phone store, that wasn't in a case.
  • Have a look at my phones then. I gave up cases a bit back and enjoy my phones so much more.
  • No. Plastic is better. The metal thing was created by the Apple fans as their (only) retort against Samsung phones that had more features, nearly all of which Apple has since copied by the way. I loved my plastic Samsung Galaxy with the removable back that made it easy to swap batteries and change SD cards that I had back in 2013. My current Galaxy is all shiny and metal, true, but I don't like it as much. Especially since my phone is in a case 90% of the time so I don't see it anyway.
  • No. It is better for wireless charging
  • A good engineered mix , with maybe a internal frame that extends to the edges, and carbon fiber for everything else, with a dedicated spot for charging, would be better than a all glass back. Metal was supposed to make phones sturdier, but putting glass on the back for wireless charging defeats the purpose.
  • I was never a fan of Samsung's implementation of weird, slimey plastic, but I'll always take it or glass over metal. I personally would like to see a revival of pre-ONE HTC design, with the mixed metal and plastic with a grippy coating over it. You could get some creative designs, revive the removable battery without a removable back (just have the bottom or top bit of plastic removable) and keep wireless charging by having the plastic bits in the center.
    Maybe bring back the Nokia N9 plastic style design.
  • Wireless charging
  • We buy glass phones and swathe them in plastic cases. That's why my next phone may be an Xperia XZ-1 Compact. I like its specs and it compact, chunky little PLASTIC case.
  • We buy glass phones and swathe them in plastic cases. That's why my next phone will be the Xperia XZ-1 Compact with its pocketable, polycarbonate, chunky like chassis.
  • We buy glass phones and swathe them in plastic cases. That's why my next phone will be the Xperia XZ-1 Compact with its pocketable, polycarbonate, chunky litte chassis.
  • If plastic is OK for football, motorcycle and space helmets, I think it would be OK for phones.
  • It is interesting that people complain about plastic and say they want more "durable & premium" materials for their new phones and insist on metal and glass, then buy a plastic case to protect their more "durable & premium" phone. NASCAR drivers seem to be OK with plastic to protect their heads.
  • I miss plastic flagship phones. The Pixel is my first non-plastic phones because I've always had Galaxy phones and the Note 4 was my last one. I loved my plastic phones, they could take a beating, I never needed a case or worried much about it when laying it on a table or if it took small drops. My Pixel now has a skin and a case so I can be a little rougher with it but generally it's more fragile and heavier - technology should be lighter as they get smaller. Metal is really just people having silly perceptions in my opinion
  • I’d take metal or plastic over glass. Durability wins every time.