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What's in a touch? The Samsung Galaxy S III polycarbonate debate

0. phoneArena 21 May 2012, 17:57 posted on

Earlier we told you all that the Samsung Galaxy S III has a case and battery cover that is made of polycarbonate, not just regular plastic, which means the case is much stronger, more durable, and more scratch resistant...

This is a discussion for a news. To read the whole news, click here

posted on 21 May 2012, 18:06 41

1. GeekMovement (Posts: 1497; Member since: 09 Sep 2011)


Thank you Michael. Good article. Enjoyed reading it and learned more of the differences between plastic and polycarbonate material.

posted on 22 May 2012, 00:06 20

55. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2614; Member since: 26 May 2011)


Thanks! Not only did I enjoy writing this, but I can't stress enough how happy it makes me to see the quality of the comments. Even if people don't like the design, that's actually the topic discussed, not just "Murrr, hate plastic!"

posted on 22 May 2012, 08:29

73. thelegend6657 (unregistered)


Can i suggest you a next article ?
Does Unibody really matter ?
Why HTC , Nokia and iphone uses unibody design while Samsung dont

posted on 22 May 2012, 09:05 3

77. Kimyuna (banned) (Posts: 8; Member since: 10 May 2012)


Samsung uses aluminium anodize unibody for the Wave series (bada smartphone).

posted on 21 May 2012, 18:06 12

2. ZEUS.the.thunder.god (unregistered)


nice article Michael. now i can see s3 is making a lot of news. good for sammy.

posted on 21 May 2012, 18:54

14. E.N. (Posts: 2218; Member since: 25 Jan 2009)


It's great that Samsung improved the durability of the device (kudos to Samsung), but the overall feel of their devices were people's main complaint. Many reviewers weren't a fan of the design and feel of the SGIII. Yes, polycarbonate is different from our idea of plastic, but at the end of the day many people say it still feels the same.

posted on 21 May 2012, 19:11 6

17. Ubi2447 (Posts: 122; Member since: 14 Feb 2012)


As stated in the article, I think we're just going to have to change our thinking of this material the same way we changed our perspective on the durability of the glass in gorillaglass phones compared to something like the glass panel on the back of the iPhone 4 (Strong vs not so strong). We now have much more faith in larger display screen technologies with the advancements in that tech, and I feel that will have to translate to plastics.

I think the biggest issue with that leap is the fact that we have a lot more intimate connection with the body of the phone as we will be touching, grasping, and sensing the phone in our hands.

Though I do agree that metal bodied devices give us a reassurance on multiple levels, with both tactile and weightiness, I think that it's just going to be an adjustment to put faith in a 'pasticy' Polycarbonate device.

posted on 21 May 2012, 19:57

25. E.N. (Posts: 2218; Member since: 25 Jan 2009)


Just because Samsung decided to go with a polycarbonate casing, doesn't mean that's the future of mobile technology. Samsung took steps backwards in many aspects of the SGIII (aesthetically). While the polycarbonate casing isn't a step backward, I'm kinda hesitant to call it a step forward (yeah I know it's stronger and more durable)

posted on 21 May 2012, 20:48 10

30. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


asthetics are subjective. if the worst thing you can say about the SGS3 is that its not the sexiest device out there, then I think they actually did a great job with it. I'm not excited about the design as it resembles the SGS2 Hercules on Tmobile a bit too much, but its definitely not nearly as bad as people make it out to be.

Regardless of design, both the SGS1 and SGS2 were extremely well made and extremely high quality devices regardless of what anyone feels about the materials used. Knowing that they took their existing quality and turned it up a notch with top end materials like Poly which is color molded, not just painted, so unlike HTC devices you dont have to worry about paint flecks coming off a month later.

It has the pedigree, the power, and the building materials. Its a high end machine, through and through.

posted on 21 May 2012, 21:02 5

36. taz89 (Posts: 1943; Member since: 03 May 2011)


just thinking the same mate if the worst thing they can come up to critisize the s3 for is its look and feel which is subjective then it just shows what a great job samsung did with the s3...what i find funny is that at first people were saying why cant they use premium materials like htc and nokia and now that they are people are still complaining lol some people are just haters obviously and moan about anything and like to hate...to those people who complain a bout plastic,check what your $1000+ tv is made out of.

posted on 21 May 2012, 21:08 1

37. E.N. (Posts: 2218; Member since: 25 Jan 2009)


But if your phone looks like crap and feels like crap....I don't know guys, lol. Aesthetics aren't everything but come on, let's not pretend its not important.

posted on 21 May 2012, 21:15 6

39. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


umm.. to me they are not.

1) are its innards filled to the brim with the best tech available? CHECK

2) is it made in a way that will resist the wear and tear of life and i dont have to worry about it cracking if i sneeze wrong? CHECK

3) does it have a beautiful screen that i just want to keep looking at? CHECK

4) is it made at a factory that working conditions are not so horrid that it will keep me up late at night? CHECK.

Yup, thats my checkist. beauty in outter shell design is number... um... well, it didnt even make the list.

Why?
Because I'mma throw a case and screen protector on it before i even sign in to Gmail. As long as the screen is pretty and its filled with high end stuff and MADE well, i could care less about the rest.

A lot of you people worry so much about what you "perceive" the outside is, and forget that the important part is INSIDE the device. If the prettiest smartphone doesnt actually do jack, what good is it? When your trying to upgrade yours in 9 months because its so far behind the curve, and im still braggin and smiling with mine, we'll see which device "looks" better.

Samsung devices may "look" cheap to some people, but they are anything but. They are the pinnacle of premium in EVERY place that it counts (other than LTE + Exynos..lol)

posted on 22 May 2012, 00:17 1

57. E.N. (Posts: 2218; Member since: 25 Jan 2009)


Aesthetics are important too. The device needs to look nice as well. If you ant even admit that slightly, then you pretty much deep in Samsung's a**. "

Not everyone uses cases, bro. You said that yourself a couple months back in regards to the iPhone and now you're flip flopping (you said in another thread it doesn't matter f the back is ugly if you're just going to throw a case on it anyway). But hey, if you're happy SIII, then no need to flip out. In the end when buying a phone, it's your opinion that matters. If you don't care at all about how your phone looks like, then that's great. But for those who do, then thats perfectly reasonable too

posted on 22 May 2012, 02:03 1

62. iWallE (Posts: 48; Member since: 10 Oct 2011)


I'd add one more thing:
5) Did they pay attention to the tiniest of details in order to improve the user experience? CHECK.

The only things that I didn't like about Samsung's high end phones so far were the look of TouchWiz and the lack of some small but useful tweaks like those present in HTC Sense. Well, at least to this beholder's eyes the problem has been solved with the S III. Things like Smart Stay and the 50GB Dropbox space show how much attention Sammy has paid to improving the experience, offered by the S III. And really, this was the only thing they urgently needed to address since they are at the top of the spec game anyway.

posted on 22 May 2012, 07:30

71. evoMike (Posts: 10; Member since: 29 Jul 2011)


hey....what do you mean by "you people"?!?!

posted on 21 May 2012, 21:25 1

42. taz89 (Posts: 1943; Member since: 03 May 2011)


not saying they are not important but you can judge a phone just by seeing pic,until you actually seen it in person than you cant know how it feels and again look and feel is subjective so it may not be to your taste (that doesnt make you right or wrong) but to some one else it may feel great and look nice to them...for me looks obviously is a part of the decision and not saying its the greatest looking phone in the world but for me its still a good lookinf device, i means really its just a curvier s2.i would rather have a phone that looks bad and performs awesome than have a phone that looks good but performs average.

posted on 22 May 2012, 00:22

58. E.N. (Posts: 2218; Member since: 25 Jan 2009)


The point of this article isn't to find all the points to criticize the SIII on. It's about aesthetics/build quality/materials. The article is about build quality and that's what I'm talking about. Criticizing the phone in other aspects would be trolling, no? Just staying in topic over here...

posted on 22 May 2012, 07:08 1

67. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


actually, its about build materials. :)

no matter what you think about the materials they use, the build quality on galaxy S devices has been phenomenal since the start. Its no accident they stand up to "life" so well.

Aesthetics are more important to some than to others. To me they really play a very minor backseat roll. It has to be butt -ass - ugly for me to say no to it for aesthetics.
We have a different mindset. I am all about the tech and what I think are the important parts, like the screen. I dont spend much time at all looking at the bezels and im not trying to impress anyone. Im trying to find a device that makes me giddy with the possibilities of what I can do with it.

And no, just because i dont find aesthetics that important, doesnt mean im in anybody's pocket. I actually liked the design of the SGS1 and SGS2. I would be happier with the design of the SGS3 if it didnt resemble the american SGS2 so much (which was a rehash of my Vibrant SGS1, thus the design has become kind of boring to me). And I've had plenty of devices i found physically less than attractive that I wanted for what it did.

posted on 22 May 2012, 08:33 2

74. thelegend6657 (unregistered)


i am surprised that when my father dropped his s2 from ear height and its still running fine .
Because in the s2 review phonearena complains its all plastic
damm my ipod touch could not even survive a fall from a arm chair when it slipped out of my pocket and cracked the screen immediatly and i have to use it for 3 months before my father fixed it for me at singapore (there cheaper )

posted on 22 May 2012, 18:02

80. E.N. (Posts: 2218; Member since: 25 Jan 2009)


Yes, build materials and quality, just like I said :/. If you don't see how aesthetics ties in, you can read my very first comment, #14.

"If you ant even admit that slightly, then you pretty much deep in Samsung's a**"
- you've admitted it slightly

In almost every single review of any phone, the design is the first thin that is talked about. It's definitely not the most important thing when looking for a phone, but nonetheless it's important, no matter how "subjective" it is.

Other than that, I think we're both on the same page. The SIII is great device. It looks like crap and probably feels like crap. You're okay with it, I'm not.

posted on 22 May 2012, 09:46

78. jsjakesaid (Posts: 12; Member since: 04 Apr 2012)


Idiot talking out of your @$$... The awkward moment when HTC used poly before samsung -.-. And yes i love all the htc's i'v had as their build quality is amazing, even if you drop it from one storey high

posted on 21 May 2012, 23:20

50. jiasdft (Posts: 2; Member since: 21 May 2012)


ZOPO ZP200 Smart Phone Android 2.3! It to do better! The price is more cheap! http://clck.ru/15fsl

posted on 22 May 2012, 08:35

75. thelegend6657 (unregistered)


Dont buy china android phone .
No updates and stop working after a few months .
although can get one cheap.
When i was dinning someone trying to sell me a fake galaxy tab (just act like he is invisible , damm i hate sales man )

posted on 21 May 2012, 18:09 13

3. androidornothing (Posts: 143; Member since: 26 Apr 2012)


I totally agree. Polycarbonate is way stronger than plastic and besides its way better for the phone because it makes the phone lighter and plus the phones reception is always more better, unlike glass or metal. people have to stop I3itch1ing about the GSIII design. Its beautifull and if someone doesnt like it then dont get the phone!! Its that simple!!

posted on 21 May 2012, 18:26 8

8. JC557 (Posts: 699; Member since: 07 Dec 2011)


Exactly. Many things can be lumped into plastics but there are many differnt types thanks to different molecular build.

Motorcycle helmets are made with polycarbonate and can take a lot of abuse (of course I can be a bit careless with mine). Meanwhile my white MacBook also has a polycarbonate shell but feels rather weak and formed cracks within months of light usage.

posted on 21 May 2012, 18:10 3

4. Saamic (Posts: 99; Member since: 20 Feb 2012)


Thank you

It's fine if pepole are uninformed and are skeptical about polycarbonate simply because of its appearance correlating to plastic, but it's another thing when ignorant close-minded people just bash it because it looks like plastic when they have no experience with it or any idea what it is. It's a more modern substance that gives phones the ability to be lightweight, like plastic, but it's much more durable than plastic. In my opinion one of its very few set-backs is that it leaves fingerprints very easily from what I've heard. Other than that though it's a great substance.

posted on 21 May 2012, 18:18 6

5. som (Posts: 768; Member since: 10 Nov 2009)


Poly carbonate is 300x stronger and scratch resistant than plastic, I am willing to pay the price for my beloved Galaxy S3.

posted on 21 May 2012, 18:18

6. 1ceTr0n (Posts: 432; Member since: 20 May 2012)


Wonder if my Galaxy Note is special poly carb or just regular plastic. Be cool to know...

posted on 21 May 2012, 18:20 2

7. ardent1 (Posts: 1980; Member since: 16 Apr 2011)


Great, we now have a "plastic" that is difficult to recycle.

Michael H., how did you miss the environmental angle?

posted on 21 May 2012, 19:31 4

19. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2614; Member since: 26 May 2011)


There is already increased ability to recycle polycarbonate because of its use in things like baby bottles, so that should continue to get better and better the more polycarbonate is used.

posted on 21 May 2012, 21:11 2

38. ardent1 (Posts: 1980; Member since: 16 Apr 2011)


Michael: you didn't answer the question. You should be aware that polycarbonates are classified as #7 and not every town recycles polycarbonates in the same manner as 2-liter soda pop containers. Separately, you should know polycarbonates is one of the more toxic plastics.

You spend the bulk of the article waxing poetic benefits of polycarbonate, yet you are unable to provide sound statistics from the EPA or Chemical Industry with respects to actual amount of polycarbonate being recycled. Telling me more baby bottles were recycled doesn't mean anything -- that might impress the android camp due to its nice sound bite.

Again, do you have hard data from established sources?

posted on 21 May 2012, 21:17 4

40. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


ardent,
has apple found a way to recycle any of the toxic materials it uses, does it have a national recycle program for iphones since the SUPER TOXIC batteries are built into it? Regular phones do.

Just shut it, troll.

posted on 22 May 2012, 00:00 3

53. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2614; Member since: 26 May 2011)


No, I don't have hard data from any sources, which is exactly why I didn't broach the topic in the article. The point of the article was simply to pose the question of where the general bias against something "feeling plasticky" comes from. I had no intention or interest in diving into a much larger topic of the environmental impact of this technology. That would be something for a completely separate article, one that I don't intend to write unless I have the time to do the proper research on the topic.

I do know that not all towns recycle polycarbonates, but I also know that it is becoming more common for recycling centers to accept polycarbonates because of just what I mentioned. I never said that it was anywhere near a majority, or even close to enough to cover the demand for recycling these products. All I said is that it's an issue that is getting attention, and will likely get more as polycarbonates are used in more and more products.

posted on 21 May 2012, 20:50 2

31. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


As strong as polycarb is per sq mm, it will be able to find many many recyclable uses. Maybe it will even make it to the iphone 6. :) Apple already uses samsung's left over chip production, why not their left over plastics too? :) :) :) j/k

posted on 21 May 2012, 18:27 2

9. 1ceTr0n (Posts: 432; Member since: 20 May 2012)


Oh and informative article. Its always the ignorant and or uninformed peeps/trolls/fanboys that cry out first before they know the facts.

Or it just boils down that someone made a better product overall then what they have already and are butthurt by it and dunno how to respond other then act like a spoiled brat kid in a toy store

posted on 21 May 2012, 18:38 1

10. ph00ny (Posts: 565; Member since: 26 May 2011)


Issue with that earlier article is because you flat out and said polycarbonate not plastic

As you said, despite the difference between G1 and S3, they're both smartphones aren't they? Just because one is significantly better doesn't make it any less what it is

posted on 21 May 2012, 19:35 2

21. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2614; Member since: 26 May 2011)


Urg, I had edited the earlier article to fix that, but the system never cleared the cache so the changes didn't make it to the site. Should be fixed now.

posted on 21 May 2012, 18:41 2

11. SprintPower (Posts: 71; Member since: 29 Dec 2008)


The Gorilla Glass analogy was right on point and should shut the ignorant mouths of the moron masses.

posted on 21 May 2012, 20:38 1

29. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


but it wont

posted on 21 May 2012, 18:44 2

12. technot (Posts: 7; Member since: 31 Jan 2012)


Why Samsung is stubborn and still opted "plastic" for SG3? This was also the criticism for SG2 and yet it became the best smartphone of 2011 and sold 20 million units.

posted on 21 May 2012, 20:51 2

32. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


and the critisism for the SGS1 which was the best selling android device until the SGS2. The SGS3 in all of its "plastic" has already outsold all other android devices that dont say "galaxy S" on them, and even the iphone4s launch.. just in pre orders. haters can hate.. the rest of us will enjoy a super top notch product.

posted on 21 May 2012, 18:44 1

13. joey18 (Posts: 493; Member since: 20 Jul 2010)


But still be plastic not like htc one x the beauty and stile the gs3 pop easy i dont liked the case needs to be more stronger and style

posted on 21 May 2012, 21:29 2

43. taz89 (Posts: 1943; Member since: 03 May 2011)


have you got an s3 to know how it feels...cause so far all reviews have said it feels great in the hand and when the back is on which is going to be 99% of the time the phone has no creaks or bends etc.

posted on 21 May 2012, 18:58

15. humandroid (Posts: 58; Member since: 11 May 2012)


Michael H article. tl, dr

posted on 21 May 2012, 19:38 7

22. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2614; Member since: 26 May 2011)


If you didn't read it, don't comment. Simple. Sorry that 688 words is too many for you.

posted on 21 May 2012, 20:56

35. taz89 (Posts: 1943; Member since: 03 May 2011)


oh please now using materials is copying lol please please just get some knowledge.thats like saying a car using tires made out of rubber is copying another car maker that uses rubber to make tires,a house is made from cement,if another house is made by cement thats copying think about thats for a second cause thats essentially what you believe ...lol PA do attract some silly people i mean seriously cant believe people that think like that exist

posted on 21 May 2012, 19:25 2

18. Glim12808 (Posts: 391; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)


The Lumia 800/900 also use polycarb and people say "Beautiful"; Samsung uses the same polycarb on the SGS3 and people say "Ugly". I don't get it!

posted on 21 May 2012, 22:16

45. xtian1103 (Posts: 352; Member since: 11 Feb 2012)


because unibody cases of lumia 800/900 or n9 feels more solid than s3. you don't always (or never) drop your phone but if you do, the battery cover part will always feel the beating

posted on 21 May 2012, 19:32

20. alpinejason (Posts: 251; Member since: 06 Sep 2011)


can you say copy-cat.again.samsung does what they do best copy people.this time it was nokia instead of apple

posted on 21 May 2012, 19:40 10

23. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2614; Member since: 26 May 2011)


What is copying here? Are manufacturers not allowed to use polycarbonate because Nokia and HTC did it already? Are they not allowed to make phones blue?

Given the right parameters, everything is a copy of something else including the devices that Nokia made or Apple or whoever you claim was being copied.

posted on 21 May 2012, 21:20 4

41. taz89 (Posts: 1943; Member since: 03 May 2011)


oh please now using materials is copying lol please please just get some knowledge.thats like saying a car using tires made out of rubber is copying another car maker that uses rubber to make tires,a house is made from cement,if another house is made by cement thats copying think about thats for a second cause thats essentially what you believe ...lol PA do attract some silly people i mean seriously cant believe people that think like that exist

posted on 21 May 2012, 20:32

27. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5479; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)


see i don't really care as long as it is more durable. can the keeper of your review unit atest to this Michael? o:

i would've wished that they used something better to the touch but if it works it works.

posted on 21 May 2012, 20:38 3

28. taz89 (Posts: 1943; Member since: 03 May 2011)


i think you along with phil from androidcentral and john from technobuffallo are the only decent tech writers left that can write objectively without making personal opinions seem like facts..keep up the work,there has not been a single article of yours i have not enjoyed...lol to be honest the only reason i come on PA is for your non biased views...everyone else seems to always contradict themselves

posted on 21 May 2012, 20:56 2

34. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2614; Member since: 26 May 2011)


Thanks! always good to know what I do is appreciated

posted on 21 May 2012, 21:34

44. wendygarett (unregistered)


SHUT UP AND GIVE US THE DROP TEST!!!

posted on 21 May 2012, 22:52 2

46. Tmachaveli (Posts: 425; Member since: 01 Apr 2011)


I would like to know all the ppl so far that have used a s3?..if you have not even touch the phone yet how can you say that its "cheap" when the phone isn't even out yet...

posted on 21 May 2012, 23:09

49. tumchaaditya (Posts: 71; Member since: 21 May 2012)


you can have pretty good idea of it from pictures...
just compare pictures of a nice looking phone(e.g. iPhone or SE Xperia Arc) and S3.

posted on 21 May 2012, 23:04 2

47. Galen20K (Posts: 504; Member since: 26 Dec 2008)


Absolutely Fantastic article Michael, thank you for your insite and progressive point of view in your articles. It's definitely appreciated by people like me.

posted on 21 May 2012, 23:06

48. tumchaaditya (Posts: 71; Member since: 21 May 2012)


You cannot MAKE people think that something is nice or beautiful..
It has to come from within!!
In my opinion, its not about changing thinking..

Samsung does make their phones cheap looking.
And its not just about ordinary plastic or polycarbonate or metal or glass.
Nokia makes pretty amazing looking and feeling phones with polycarbonate(N9, Lumia 800/900) and Sony Ericsson has created quite beautiful phones using ordinary plastic in past.

Personally, I always find Samsung phones to be cheap looking/feeling(although best performing). I can even go further and say, when turned off, Galaxy S2 looks like enlarged Samsung Star(the one with Bada that's costs 1/4 of S2).
Some might argue over this but at least you have to admit that SE Xperia Arc or Nokia Lumia look and feel much better than Galaxy S2 and cost the same.

On the mechanical strength, S3 does have polycarbonate advantage but aesthetically, naah...

posted on 22 May 2012, 00:03 4

54. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2614; Member since: 26 May 2011)


See, that's the kind of argument that I love! If you don't like the design, that's your right, and it is certainly true that Samsung doesn't have the most impressive design record. But, I truly dislike when people will bash a product simply on the basis of a misconception about the material used to build it. That's just silly.

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