The phone of the future is made of plastic and has an HD display

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
The phone of the future is made of plastic and has an HD display
So, in the past few years (or maybe even the whole history of technology) we've been obsessed with having the best phone with the most RAM, the fastest processor, the highest megapixel camera, the more and the better. And it's understandable: we've started with phones that could barely do a thing, with screens that did not look particularly great and with cameras that were... a bit crappy. Now, however, we've reached a point of maturity where most phones, even the cheaper ones are... quite great actually. But we haven't changed: we still want more and more, and better and better. And phone makers recognize that desire and capitalize on that to the point now when gradual improvements are served with a retail price that has skyrocketed in the past couple of years. Just a couple of years the idea of paying $1,000 for a phone was unthinkable and now many people buy such devices without batting an eye.

But that is not what I signed up for. And I think you might have gotten carried away too.

I signed up for a great phone for me. I don't want a phone with a Quad HD resolution because there is some person somewhere in the world who is using a virtual reality headset and would notice the difference. I am not that person, and so are most others. For us, that feature is an overkill. Now, before I actually saw those screens a few years back I was as excited as the next tech enthusiast to see the jump to Quad HD and even 4K screens on tiny phone screens, but then as part of my work here, we did some randomized blind tests and saw that 99% of the people really could not tell the difference between a regular Full HD resolution display and a Quad HD one. It made no difference to 99% of people!

The iPhone XR is loved because of, not despite, its lower resolution

What was even more shocking this year was the release of the iPhone XR: a phone with a resolution of 828 x 1792 pixels, which is just slightly better than HD. Yes, that is the resolution that we used to have on phones five years ago!

Opportunistic vloggers who had not even seen the phone in person were quick to laugh it off with sarcastic videos, until... a couple of blind tests showed that people could not really tell the difference that much and the overwhelming majority preferred this HD screen over lower-quality Full HD displays.

And what do you get for this "inconvenience"? The best battery life of any iPhone, ever. Do you think people care about that? It turns out that the most loved feature of the most popular new iPhone probably comes thanks to its lower resolution.


Plastic is bad or... is it really?

The second "Aha!" moment that led to the suggestion that I will make in a second was the success of the Pocophone F1 that broke the mold of sameness with an unapologetically plastic design.

Yes, none of that fragile and easily smudged beauty of a glass back, but a durable, practical plastic back. And of course, this is part of what allowed Xiaomi to price this phone at just $350, way less than phones like the OnePlus series that were previously considered the gold standard in terms of a price to performance ratio. (Plus, why do you even care about the back of your phone if you are putting in a bulky case anyway?)

Let's have a practical phone, not a luxury museum item

So here is my open suggestion to phone makers: why not learn from these valuable lessons and create a smartphone that is uncompromising in what matters, things like the processor and the camera, but cut the often detrimental luxury. Why not make a durable phone with a plastic back and an HD display that would certainly crush all others when it comes to practicality and battery life, things that users actually care about?

That would be an interesting combination: imagine a phone that would last you two, even three days on a single charge? Imagine a phone with a well-made plastic back and a practical design that ensures nothing shatters if you drop the phone from one-foot distance... Imagine being able to carry your phone without a case that makes it thick like a tank!

We have cast off some ideas as inherently evil and we have glorified others, but what if we were wrong? What if the future of the smartphone is a practical device that you are not afraid to take with you everywhere and that lasts a few days, rather than a luxury item that you have to wipe clean with a cloth a couple of times a day and be anxious about forgetting to charge it overnight?

Maybe it's time to rewrite our priorities and concentrate on a bit more than meets the eye.



1. osterrich21

Posts: 190; Member since: Apr 14, 2017

Smartphone with rear plastic has tremendous durability compared to glass. My note 4 of 2014 is a witness.Working perfectly.Bring back the policarbonate

3. el33t626

Posts: 28; Member since: Dec 18, 2013

Note 4 was such a good phone IMO.

10. master-mkk

Posts: 214; Member since: Aug 27, 2014

best device Samsung ever made there was just something special about it i really miss mine

26. Atechguy0

Posts: 918; Member since: Aug 03, 2018

Victor your first point about the screen resolution for the XR is flawed. Especially when you left out one crucial point. The price people pay for the XR, then they should be getting a full HD resolution display. Not a sub par cheap low resolution display. It's just as bad as Timmy coming out and telling everyone again that you are getting great value in the iPhone XR. My money and specs tells me otherwise. Millions of others would agree with me on this. You don't feel like your are getting great value for the XR, period. Justify it all you want Victor, but then you are proving to the world that you will settle with what ever Apple tells you, or makes. I like OnePlus's motto. Never settle.

34. andrewc31394

Posts: 310; Member since: Jun 23, 2012

sub par display? I'm a Google fanboy and even I can admit seeing it up close it looks great, and blind tests have proven the same thing when not techy people are deciding on which phone to get

36. Atechguy0

Posts: 918; Member since: Aug 03, 2018

I think you missed the point. If you are paying the money that Apple is asking, then you should get the product that fits. Instead you are not getting that from the XR. Even the original iPhone plus models have a higher resolution display.

46. Vancetastic

Posts: 1866; Member since: May 17, 2017

I’ve been making this point for a while, and have not gotten a satisfactory answer about it from the ardent Apple fans. The XR would be a fantastic device for less money. I don’t get why they went lower on the resolution. (

37. midan

Posts: 3213; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

Exactly, i wonder have he ever seen it alive, i compared it to my X screen and both look great. But hey normal people don't look their screen with magnify glass like atech clearly does.

48. Atechguy0

Posts: 918; Member since: Aug 03, 2018

Midan then why go with OLED if both look great? For years Apple and it's zealots (people like you) would tell everyone that LCD is better. Now we don't hear any of that crap, because Android users knew for years that OLED was always better. I personally can see the pixels on my smartphone, that's because it is 1' foot away from my face. But that still isn't the point if you pay that higher price for the XR, then you should be getting a higher resolution display, period.

61. midan

Posts: 3213; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

"For years Apple and it's zealots (people like you) would tell everyone that LCD is better" I have never said just a thing, this again isn't that kind of thing. It's matter of taste. There's no right or wrong. Some people like very punchy colours and some people like the colour accuracy. I always liked LCD screen for it's very natural look. I also know when Apple announce they will use OLED that it won't look like typical OLED screen with super punchy oversatured colours and when it came it didn't. It doesn't look like OLED screen, it's just LCD with very tiny improvements. Little bit deeper colours and pure black. Characteric of iPhone OLED is same what iPhone LCD. If you put side by side XR, XS and Note 9, XS looks lot more like XR screen. "Now we don't hear any of that crap" For the reason i just said, also i still hear some Android people are saying that iPhone OLED doesn't look that good, which means they like those super punchy eye popping colours. Compared to those iPhone OLED still look kind a dull if you got used to those unnatural super punchy colours. You can't get those from iPhone OLED.

69. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1485; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

Everything you're talking about is merely the result of calibration. Lots of Android phones nowadays have the option to change the display setting from realistic to vibrant color and some even offer more. Some of them allow for more advanced calibration. The iPhone's OLED display isn't much different from any Samsung high-end OLED display, just slightly different calibration. But again claiming that an HD display is just as sharp and crisp looking as a FullHD screen is bulls**t. No doubt it can look great regardless of the resolution, but it'll never be as sharp. The difference is easily distinguishable.

42. TheOracle1

Posts: 2340; Member since: May 04, 2015

There's absolutely nothing wrong with polycarbonate or an HD screen and if the specs were right I'd buy it. BUT I won't pay $750+ for an HD screen just because it has a fruit logo on the back. I don't care how good the screen is, the XR is overpriced for what it offers.

47. Vancetastic

Posts: 1866; Member since: May 17, 2017

If the XR had a polycarbonate back, and was priced around $500 or so, it would be my next phone, no doubt. The screen is good enough, but not for the price, in my opinion.

75. raky_b

Posts: 440; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

@Atechguy0: 1.why are you answering to Victor by replay to another guy's post!? did not understand what author was saying. Not in one place has he wrote that XR is great value, neather he mentioned pruce...but just that sreen on that device is good enough to 99% of people and that it makes that device best of all iPhones when it comes to battery life. 3. He is saying that today's flagships are to expensive, and that it could be cheaper with lower resolution screen and if they would be made of plastic, which is bought right.

77. Eclipse

Posts: 9; Member since: Jan 11, 2019

I think iPhone XR sales more than other iPhone variant is because of it price.The only latest iPhone that below $1000 with latest chip and feature,not because it resolution display.If Apple make $300 iPhone with less than 360p and everyone buy it does'nt mean we want 360p display in our next smartphone.

22. Subie

Posts: 2442; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

Completely agree, bring back the poly-carbonate! The likes of which Nokia used back in the 900/920 days made those phones tough like a tank.

32. DFranch

Posts: 562; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

My 920 was a tank. I can't tell you how many times I dropped it and hardly a scratch.

33. Subie

Posts: 2442; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

I really wanted to own a 920 and the build quality was one of the biggest reasons why.

44. cncrim

Posts: 1590; Member since: Aug 15, 2011

It is a great phone however the stupid speaker on the back is drive me crazy .... make no sense.

2. caelironstaff

Posts: 21; Member since: Nov 02, 2018

This is so correct. My Nokia Lumia 928 (4.5" 1080 AMOLED display and all plastic body) had great battery life, wireless charging, and I once dropped it out the window of my car at 70 mph WITH NO CASE ON IT and I used it for another year and my mother used it up until last year. Not a scratch on it, and still gets 2 days of battery life.

20. perry1234

Posts: 654; Member since: Aug 14, 2012

You dropped in from a car at 70 mph (112 kmph) , on a road, with NO CASE on it, and it did not even get a single "Scratch" ? Unless the road was made of cupcakes, or you somehow misspelled "Nokia 3310" in your comment above, that story is tough to believe, sorry. PS : Lumia 928 was only 720p display not 1080p

27. Subie

Posts: 2442; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

720p is also wrong. The Lumia 928's resolution was 768x1280 to be exact.

39. skips

Posts: 490; Member since: Oct 04, 2015


50. caelironstaff

Posts: 21; Member since: Nov 02, 2018

You got me, the Lumia icon I replaced it with had the 1080,my bad. As for the prior disbelief of the not a scratch, if I could post pics I would gladly share. That phone is a beast.

72. perry1234

Posts: 654; Member since: Aug 14, 2012

My bad, thumbs up. I didn't remember the exact resolution, just remembered that it was closer to 720p than 1080p

51. caelironstaff

Posts: 21; Member since: Nov 02, 2018

I had an iPhone owner disbelieve about it too, and frankly if it hadn't happened to me I would also be skeptical. I showed the iPhone owner how durable it was by smacking the phone hard on my desk, on its back of course, I'm not completely insane.

73. perry1234

Posts: 654; Member since: Aug 14, 2012

That's believable of course. I think even iPhone 7/ 6s series could be smacked hard on their backs with zero damage. Anyway, don't take the trouble of posting pics. You have nothing to prove to me, I am just another guy on the internet. If I met you in real life I would take you to court though, in front of judge Lucy-Koh :)

4. bbycrts

Posts: 34; Member since: Nov 05, 2018

Yes, yes, and YES! Ridiculous pixel count does two things for the vast majority of people: 1) gives them something to brag about and 2) drains their batteries. I love my iPhone XR first and foremost because of the fantastic battery life. The screen looks great to me - I don't have super vision and I don't hold the phone close enough to my face to discern individual pixels (though I tried that once and had to use my imagination to see the pixels). I have given up nothing in perceivable resolution and gained everything in battery. I would also love a sturdy plastic body instead of the glass (though I love the look of the glass). Oh...and before people jump on the "He's an Apple fanboy!" wagon: this is my first iPhone. I was a hardcore Androider before this.

40. Reybanz88

Posts: 102; Member since: Jul 28, 2016

Couldn't have been a "hardcore Androider" if you went to an iPhone. It's no way that a real android user can ever use the closed up and lacking iOS. It's by far too many compromises.

63. midan

Posts: 3213; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

Hey what made you to switch and have you liked the iOS experience so far?

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.
FCC OKs Cingular's purchase of AT&T Wireless