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Samsung executive defends sticking with plastic for its smartphone casings [updated]

Updated 10 years ago
Published Mar 5th, 2013 3:18PM EST
Samsung Galaxy S IV

With all of the money that Samsung (005930) has made over the last year, some of its fans have been hoping that the next-generation Galaxy S IV model would use higher-quality building materials for its casing instead of the plastic used for the Galaxy S III. Unfortunately, all rumors indicate that the Galaxy S IV will have the same plastic build as its predecessor and that Samsung is for now eschewing materials such as aluminum or even higher-quality plastics such as polycarbonate. In an interview with CNET posted Tuesday, Samsung mobile business executive vice president YH Lee said that the company decided to remain with its plastic build because it was a very durable material and because it was much easier to manufacture on a large scale.

UPDATE: A Samsung representative chimes in to say that it’s incorrect to infer from the CNET story — which contains the headline “Why the Galaxy S4 won’t be shedding its plastic roots” and includes a line about “Samsung’s plastic GS4” — that the Galaxy S IV will have plastic casing because the Samsung executive in the interview never specifically mentions the Galaxy S IV and only talks about Samsung’s general design philosophy and its reasons for its continued use of plastic for its major devices. The representative also claims that it’s incorrect to refer to an unannounced Samsung device as the “Galaxy S IV” because that device may or may not exist, the person can or cannot confirm. We’ll know for sure if the device-that-shouldn’t-be-referred-to-as-the-Galaxy-S-IV has plastic casing in less than two weeks when Samsung may or may not unveil it in New York.

“Since we are shipping really large units, we always have to think how efficiently we can manage the manufacturability and also durability,” Lee told CNET.

Lee did acknowledge that there seems to be market demand for metals and high-quality plastics, however, and said the company has tried to strike a balance between firmer build quality and easy manufacturability.

“I think the next product has a nice balance between this,” she said. “We listen to the market and try to accommodate.”

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.