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  • skiboysteve - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    still reading the article, but the 'everyone uses a case' thing is annoying. I have never used one on any phone (I dont like how they make it thicker) and everyone that sees my case-less phone makes a comment. "Wow why don't you have a case?" or "nice case color" (assuming I have a case on). I don't know why people are obsessed with cases... I think its a style thing. Reply
  • nico_mach - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    I really didn't want to use one on my iphone 5.

    Then the sharp metal edges wore a hole in my jeans pockets. Then I started taking it running.

    And yes, I still think cases are mostly about fashion. Just not in every ... case.
    Reply
  • soccerballtux - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    ha! Reply
  • Impulses - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    Eh, there's plenty of valid reasons to use a case, from ergonomics to fashion to protection, the only reason not to however is aesthetic, so...

    My reasons are a mix, it makes a black phone less boring looking (never had a color choice between 3 EVO & a Nexus, would have totally bought the red N5 if available at the time)... But also dampens a fall ands allows me to flip it screen down without scratching the screen.

    In several cases I needed a case to keep HTC's huge camera pods from scratching anyway. N5 ain't much better in that regard.

    If I had a Samsung phone I'd use a case to avoid the gloss faux plastic looks and if I had a current gen One or iPhone I'd use one to maintain resale value. The bigger question is why isn't anyone making phones that DON'T need cases?

    Obviously super ruggerized phones might not sell a ton so no OEM is gonna please the Otterbox/huge case crowd... However, if I had a phone with a few key elements I'd go case less, it needs:

    -a back side not prone to scratching, soft touch or Moto's Kevlar backs work
    -recessed camera pod/lens
    -slight lip around the front to protect the screen, Moto X has this but it could be more prominent

    Had I bought a Moto X (specially a customized one) I probably would've tried going without a case, that phone feels better thought out than most (where cost or fashion > function).
    Reply
  • greyhulk - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    The only time I use a case is if I feel that it's necessary for the phone I'm using. On the iPhone 5s, I use one to prevent scratches in the anodized aluminum coating. On my M8, it gives me a better grip on the phone (the M8 feels like a wet bar of soap without one), and on the GS4, I used one literally because I couldn't stand the fingerprints on the glossy plastic.

    I almost always use really minimal TPU cases. Just enough to get the job done.
    Reply
  • JeffFlanagan - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    I didn't use cases until my current phone, a Galaxy Note 3. The case saved my phone when I dropped it on a hard surface. It didn't even make a sound as the bumpers on the case absorbed all the force. This is the first time I've dropped a phone, but this inexpensive case saved me hundreds of dollars. Reply
  • phoenix_rizzen - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    Watched a lady drop her iPhone onto the concrete yesterday, about a 2.5-3.0 foot drop. Phone bounced twice, she picked it up, and just carried on using it like nothing happened. Had a thick rubber case around it, and made a "boing" sound like a rubber ball bouncing. Was quite impressive to watch, and a great advertisement for a good, protective case. Reply
  • phoenix_rizzen - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    On the flip side, I've started using cases on phones in order to make them thicker. Thin phones cramp my hands when used for long periods of time (whether it be web surfing, or texting, or playing games). A case add both weight and thickness, making it easier to grip and less strenuous to hold.

    The only smartphone I didn't use a case on is my old Sony Xperia pro, and that's because it was a slider, and fit nicely in the hand already.
    Reply
  • 3DoubleD - Tuesday, May 06, 2014 - link

    I use a case on my SGS3 because it is as slippery as a fish without it. It's super smooth poly-carbonate, rounded, and very narrow. I bought my first SGS3 on launch day and lost it two days later when it slipped out of my pocket while I was in a cab. I'd been carrying cell phones for 10 years and never lost one until then.

    I experimented with my 2nd SGS3 and indeed, it had very little pocket staying friction, so I went out an bought an Otter Box with plenty of exposed silicone bits for enhanced friction.

    Outside of the pocket issue, the phone itself was pretty easy to fumble for the exact same reasons. Before I used a case and the few times I was stupid enough to try using the phone without it, I found myself nearly dropping it or juggling it after the phone thing would just flip in my hand when I tried to use the power or volume buttons.

    My preferred material is soft-touch plastic.... I'm such a sucker for soft-touch plastic... feels great (kind of velvety) and it is perfectly grippy. My Motorola Milestone (aka Droid) had it. Nexus 5 has a nice soft touch layer on the back too.
    Reply
  • skiboysteve - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    awesome article. very educational. thank you!

    would have been great to have a table comparing the 3 items different pros and cons at the end.
    Reply
  • SammichPG - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    They use cases because breaking the phone while still on contract would force them to buy another phone while still paying for their previous.

    The american market and their subsidized phones is quite perplexing to me.

    I use cheap phones that are good enough and never worry about them to a reasonable extent (I use protective films so I can put my phone in my pockets with keys or coins).

    Cheaper phone = freedom

    The fact that I don't use anything over 4-4.2" helps, larger phones can't fit in pockets and are more prone falling from your hands.
    Reply
  • nico_mach - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    The CDMA band Verizon Wireless - the largest or second largest carrier in the US perenially - basically makes unlocked phones impossible. Most of the good phones don't work on its network (except iphone and whatever top fo the line samsung exists) and they can be more successful blocking unlocked phones.

    Add in that the carriers (until recently) charged the same if you brought your own phone, and why wouldn't you let them pay for your phone? No, it wasn't a good system and if it wasn't for apple's iphone's app store we'd be in even worse shape with our telecom.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    In theory this should become less of a problem in a year or so. VZW has LTE coverage almost everywhere (there're still some large holes in the southwest + a few areas where they only have 2/3g roaming coverage); and once they finally deploy VoLTE being able to fall back on legacy networks will be much less important; making a phone only compatible with VZWs LTE network a lot more viable. Reply
  • Impulses - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    Why would VoLTE change anything? Everyone keeps saying that but if they wanna close down their network or make it a pain to bring a phone over they still can. Bringing a Nexus 5 to Sprint wasn't particularly easy even tho Sprint wasn't going out of their way to impede it or anything. VZW could simply flat out refuse to dole out SIMs and make the registration process harder than it has to be. It'll be a while before they can credibly sell phones without any CDMA radios anyway, plenty of LTE-less places in bumble-f*** Reply
  • vanishm3 - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    You do not live in the U.S. so please keep your narrow minded 'observations' to yourself Reply
  • devione - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    The irony. Reply
  • tuxfool - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    Maybe that was the point... Reply
  • vanishm3 - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    that was directed toward sammichpg Reply
  • hpglow - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    4" is too small for my hands and my hands are not large. My eyes are also getting too old to browse the internet on a 4" screen. Increasing PPI helps but I would take a physically larger screen over another PPI increase any day. Different people have different needs. Reply
  • sphigel - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    "They use cases because breaking the phone while still on contract would force them to buy another phone while still paying for their previous.

    The american market and their subsidized phones is quite perplexing to me."

    I don't quite follow your logic. Whether it's subsidized or not makes no difference on the decision to protect your phone or not. You still need to pay the full value of the phone if you need to replace it.
    Reply
  • Trisagion - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    I know it's expensive, but what about carbon fiber? Reply
  • nyonya - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    Carbon fiber attenuates radio signals and can shatter. Reply
  • Calista - Friday, May 09, 2014 - link

    Carbon fiber is a great material, but it's also hard to work with and not really adopted for mass production. Reply
  • mark3785 - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    “[Magnesium] can be RF transparent using specific coatings”

    What?! Please supply some sources. How on earth can a coating turn an RF opaque material transparent?
    Reply
  • JoshHo - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    Sorry, after checking the source it seems that I misread. Magnesium's more RF transparent but there isn't a way that I know of to make it RF transparent. Reply
  • SammichPG - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    Maybe it's your geography the problem, covering such a huge territory so sparsely populated is going to be expensive compared to serving a country smaller than one of your states with double the population.
    The fact that each carrier has its standards and frequencies just raises costs too.

    Roaming in the EU is still stupidly expensive though.

    We had prepaid sims since the early 90s with only professionals and "intensive" users using postpaid plans, it's been shifting somehow with the economy getting worse and people still wanting to sport the latest status symbol (now conveniently paid each month).
    Reply
  • vanishm3 - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    please stop assuming things, you do not live in the U.S. Reply
  • lilo777 - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    @vanishm3: Please stop posting stupid comments. You are embarrassing many people who live in U.S. Reply
  • Hrel - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    Plastic is the clear best choice, anything else is impractical and a waste of resources and money. Anyone who isn't putting a $10 case on their $600 portable computer deserves to have it broken. Reply
  • A5 - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    Cases are almost universally hideous and make the phone thicker and harder to hold. I've never had a case on a phone and don't plan to start. Reply
  • phoenix_rizzen - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    Maybe in your experience. My experience is exactly the opposite: cases make the stupidly thin phones easier to hold and to use for extended periods of time.

    The difference between an Optimus G without a case (too thin and slippery) and one with a case (fits nicely in the hand) is night and day. And the G2 without a case is even worse.
    Reply
  • sphigel - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    My phone is in my pocket more than it's in my hand so for me keeping it thin is ideal. I've never used a case and never broken or damaged any phone I've ever had. Reply
  • batongxue - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    Plastic is the ugliest and actually the only ugly one.
    In what way is "anything else is impractical"? Both the iPhone and HTC One had been mass produced. That is how you define impractical?
    Reply
  • lilo777 - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    If plastic is the ugliest choice I wonder why [virtually] all iPhone owners go for it when they put a case on their phones? Reply
  • Maxpower2727 - Wednesday, May 07, 2014 - link

    It baffles me that some people treat cases as more of a mandate than an opinion. I have personally owned and used about a dozen high-end phones of varying fragility without ever using a case, and not once have I damaged a phone outside of very minor dings. I hate cases, and there's nothing wrong with me for having that opinion. People get really judgmental about it though, which I find perplexing. Reply
  • xilience - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    I've always wondered if rubber could be used at all in the case. Why not have the corners of the case be made out of rubber to soften the blow when the device is dropped? Reply
  • JoshHo - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    That would ultimately be worse for protecting the internal components, see the section on metal to understand why. Reply
  • ArmanUV - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    I think you got the thermal aspect of the comparison wrong. All major smartphone manufacturers have their products certified by the UL organization for thermal safety. If I recall correctly, under UL standards, the maximum temperature of an exposed metal surface is 55 degree celsius. That number is 65 for glass (i.e the display) and 95 for plastic. These limits are different for each material due to their different thermal conductivity which affects how 'hot' we actually perceive a surface to be. So in practice, even though metal+glass phones (e.g iPhone 5) act as a giant heat sink for the processor, PA and the like, they also have to be throttled sooner than a plastic+glass phone. This is one of the main reasons that Samsung (which really prioritizes performance over look and feel) makes their phones completely out of plastic and glass. Reply
  • JoshHo - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    Samsung realistically cannot come close to 95C at all. Maximum battery temperature should never exceed 60C. Otherwise, battery life cycle drops dramatically and there is elevated risk of thermal runaway. That is what gates temperatures, not UL standards. Reply
  • ArmanUV - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    I will have to disagree. You are correct that plastic phones never reach 95C in practice, because either the glass display surface (65C) or the battery (60C) will always reach critical temperatures sooner. However, in the majority of high power usage cases (LTE, gaming or using the camera), the temperature of the parts of the exterior that cover the CPU/GPU/ISP will often reach critical UL limits before the battery reaches 60C (depending on the internal layout of course). This is especially true for when you have a metal phone that quickly transfers the heat to the surface before the big thermal mass of the battery has time to catch up. For some phones (especially those that have the battery and the PCB side by side instead of stacked on top of each other), the heat from the components is very localized; so you end up with a very hot spot right above or below the CPU/GPU, while the battery is sitting there at 45C.
    I worked as in intern for the thermal design team of a major smartphone manufacturer, and this is basically what I did all day. You can easily confirm this by using an IR camera coupled with a battery temperature logging app.
    Reply
  • JoshHo - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    First of all, empirical evidence is against this. The S5 throttles faster than the One M8. I've also checked the GS4. It ended at 8.6 FPS for GFXBench vs 12.8 FPS for HTC One 2013/M7.

    If you're dissipating into a metal body, any increase in temperature is quickly distributed on the entire mass of the phone due to its conductive properties. The phenomenon is isolated to PC-bodied devices. No OEM is going to realistically run anywhere near even 60C skin temp, PC or not. If it's 60C on the surface of a PC body, the SoC is likely near TJmax, which is completely unacceptable for many heat-sensitive ICs, often RF-related.

    I don't claim to know what goes on in thermal design teams, but the simple truth is that all evidence is against your claims. Despite UL standards allowing higher max temperatures for PC (as you claim), there is a noticeable delta in performance going from PC to Al.
    Reply
  • bradleyg5 - Tuesday, May 06, 2014 - link

    Those benchmarks don't run long enough to be valid. Use a real game over an hour long or greater session. Which runs a 10 minute benchmark faster is largely irrelevant. Reply
  • ArmanUV - Tuesday, May 06, 2014 - link

    Well I have not read a lot about the performance of S5 vs One X, but these phones are different from a thermal standpoint (internal layout, etc) so I don't think it is very scientific to conclude that metal>PC just because the S5 throttles faster than One X.
    But believe it or not, I assure you that UL and battery tempreture limits are reached WAY before chip tempreture limits, and that due to localized heat and a lot of other factors, the choice of metal vs PC for optimal thermal performance is not that clear cut.
    And no, 60C surface tempreture is not at all uncommon. The S4 does occasionally go above UL in heavy use cases, but they still pass UL because UL tests are faily outdated for modern smartphones (they don't stress the phone enough and they don't test for gaming, video recording or GPS scanarios).
    Reply
  • Thermogenic - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    They have a graph showing that the Galaxy S5 throttles more than the One M8. Reply
  • Thermogenic - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    RE: Magnesium

    Microsoft's Surface line uses a magnesium alloy shell and is relatively mass produced. That being said, the Surface 2 in particular has run in to production shortages, although I'm not sure which part is causing it. It could be the magnesium shell.
    Reply
  • kyuu - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    Yeah the Mg part confused me as well. Why didn't the author touch on the Surface line's Mg casing? Reply
  • JoshHo - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    That's true, but Microsoft has been the only one. Based upon some of the issues I've read about this is due to difficulties related to yield. Reply
  • Calista - Friday, May 09, 2014 - link

    Dell have also been using magnesium for ages for their laptops, and most likely IBM/Lenovo and HP have as well. Reply
  • Stochastic - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    I really appreciate articles like these that provide some background/foundational information. Also, thanks for including helpful asides such as your explanation of the W/m*K unit. I'm not as technically savvy as many other Anandtech readers, so it's really useful to read articles like this that educate me on technology basics. Reply
  • Daniel Egger - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    > Battery life has increased

    You're kidding, right? Battery life was about okay 10 years ago, then took a massive dip, recovered a bit, took a massive dip again with iPhone and Android devices and since then has been in a constant improvement/regression cycle going nowhere fast...
    Reply
  • Stochastic - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    You have to put that in context. Battery life has remained largely stagnant not because we haven't seen improvements in battery chemistries and component efficiency but because user workloads have intensified. Reply
  • Impulses - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    The improvements haven't kept up with the workload tho and it wasn't until very recently that battery capacity became a big deal and more OEMs started using 3000mAh or better. Moto sold several generations of Maxx models before anyone followed suit, kinda silly.

    I blame Samsung, the race to the thinnest phone possible was as dumb as the megapixel wars with P&S. Getting to 10mm or so was nice from an ergonomic point of view, but heck, I'd gladly take a 12mm thick phone with a 4,500+ mAh battery.
    Reply
  • hrrmph - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    The article was great as far as it went with a scientific comparison of the different materials.

    Then the article fell apart and went into "la la" fantasy land with yet another emotional justification for the superiority of the iPhone's industrial design. There was a slight twist in that the argument wasn't good looks, but in-hand feel. Uhh... like we haven't heard that before already.

    And like we haven't rejected that silly argument before. Functionality is how I (and most people in the world) buy smartphones, phablets, and tablets with our hard earned money.

    Case in point: My hapless colleague just arrived back to work from a wonderful bucket list vacation. He took photos of this tropical vacation and photos of his newly built house. He is living large (and the bankers love him for it). So obviously he wanted to show me pictures, right? But he couldn't.

    Why? Because he is stuck with a low capacity iPhone that has no possibility of expanding the storage and his phone quickly filled up with other stuff withing 6 months or so of his buying it and now he is out of capacity, and thus capability to use his device as he would really like to.

    So why don't you ask him how he thinks about the in-hand feel trade-off now?

    Meanwhile, back at 'Sanity Base', my Blackberry Z10 has a 64GB Micro-SD and holds an awesomely large collection of high quality lossless encoded music that I enjoy every day, along with a 100,000 page collection of government published regulations, advisories, handbooks, and technical data (not to mention being a great business communication device).

    My nearby Note 2 phablet has a 128GB Micro-SD and has all of my Full-HD vacation videos as well as a complete copy of my photo collection that covers 4 generations of my family, friends, and colleagues. Oh... it also has a copy of that same massive collection of awesome lossless and high-definition music... just in case.

    So save the faux-science arguments that industrial design is the deciding factor in these things. It's not. It never has been. Except perhaps for folks who are hung up on devices as social status elevating 'jewelry' pieces.

    Apple's real strengths are its software design. And even then it comes with the caveat that you are more or less forced to buy into a cripplingly closed ecosystem where Apple plays a god-like role of telling you what you can and cannot have or do with your device.

    Then again, Apple (just like Microsoft) has abandoned some of their best software design elements and thrown them out. Why? Just to try to look trendy and new. In both cases, it reeks of desperation to keep churning cash flow, as opposed to offering something better. Sometimes there isn't anything better to be designed into a certain software applet because the existing functionality has already reached the zenith of design for that product class.

    Then you add in Apple's utter lack of options for removing the back cover and battery easily. Combined with the inability to expand the storage, its a death knell for a savvy user's interest in buying the device. Even if the industrial design provides a good in-hand feel, it still remains a paperweight... well... almost as useless as a paperweight... albeit one that feels good in-hand.

    For what it's worth, the plastic BB Z10 feels great in hand. It's cheap, high quality, and I appreciate it's low social status and lack of blinginess. My Note 2 has a nice pleather case, so I can't say that I even know what it actually feels like anymore. But, functionality on both devices is great.

    The next device that I will buy will be a 7" or 8" class phablet to replace my half crippled (by design) Nexus 7. You can be absolutely sure that industrial design (that is the jewelry aspect of the device) will be on my spec list...

    ... like down around number 25 or so in importance.

    Functionality has, and always will rule most of this global market. Will there be pockets of irrational behavior? Yes. Where will you find them? Where you find idle cash, high emotions, and plenty of zealous marketers (and media like AnandTech) who are willing to stir that irrationality.
    Reply
  • Stochastic - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    I don't think Joshua was commenting on the overall value/worth of the iPhone. Rather, he was pointing out that one of the advantages of a metal design is that for many it improves subjective in hand feel. Whether this advantage overcomes other disadvantages of the iPhone (e.g. lack of user replaceable battery, lack of storage expandability) is up to each user to decide based on their own personal criteria. Reply
  • JoshHo - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    To add to this, it doesn't take a metal design to have good ID. Ultimately, the key point is that all OEMs seem to be converging on similar designs, so ID/MD is now a key area of competition. Reply
  • JoshHo - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    I'd just like to mention that only time I've ever daily-driven an iOS device was around a week back in 2011. I do have plenty of experience with recent iOS devices though. Reply
  • Impulses - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    You know, it doesn't take a removable media card to have expandable storage, not with USB OTG on every Android handset and tablet out there at this point. It's fairly trivial to hook up a USB drive to a phone these days, there's even about half a dozen USB drives and readers on Amazon that have dual plugs (USB for PC and micro USB for OTG use). This idea that no removable storage = crippled device is pretty tired.

    You know what really does kill storage tho? (and what very well may have sapped your friend's IPhone storage) The fact that iOS is terrible at managing it and iMessage is a horrible mess after long term use. Every photo you send thru iMessage gets permanently duplicated within iOS devices and even across backups (so it clutters iCloud as well), what's worse, there's no easy way to delete them. For some reason when you delete a message thread in iMessage it never gets deleted, just hidden, it's still in storage and often it's revealed to the user again after a reboot.

    It's truly bizarre behavior, there's literally no intuitive or built in way to delete all that crap, you have to resort to 3rd party tools that allow you to edit iOS backups which you then have to restore (of course you need space for that so first you have to wipe the device). Ran into this issue recently with a client who had three years (backups restored across devices) and 11GB worth of iMessage data cluttering her phone, she complained when she couldn't take photos.

    If I were a cynic I'd say it's a ploy to get people to buy higher capacity devices, but it just seems like a massively short sighted decision on the part of developers who didn't expect people to carry over iMessage data across a single (or multiple) device for 2-3 years at a time.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    Plus storage just isn't an issue for a ton of people out there, most of my family members have 2-5GB in use avoid l across their phones and it's all photos that get automatically backed up to an account when on Wi-Fi. They have no idea why anyone ever pays more for 32&64GB devices... Reply
  • bradleyg5 - Tuesday, May 06, 2014 - link

    "This means that in today's phones and tablets, one made from plastic will generally run slower in intensive games than one made of metal or glass, if all else is equal."

    I would like to see you actually test this, take an hour long game session of XCom or other game that runs the GPU at max clock rate. Measure with trepen profiler to see which mantains a higher average clock rate. Very easy to test.

    Test I did with my Note3 to show the impact of fan cooling a phone, I'd love to be able to test this with other devices. http://imgur.com/a/l3SJ8
    Reply
  • JoshHo - Tuesday, May 06, 2014 - link

    I saw your post on /r/Android, we use GFXBench to simulate the intensive workload to measure throttling. Reply
  • bradleyg5 - Tuesday, May 06, 2014 - link

    What GPU/CPU clock rate the phones are running at matters. How do we know the S5 is not running at a higher clock rate thus generating more heat more quickly, causing it to throttle first. maybe something like total frames rendered in 30 minutes would be a fairer comparison. I mean the Z1 runs at 450mhz and the S5 and M8 run at 578Mhz, but are they actually running at that rate and for how long? totally different amounts of heat being generated, without knowing exactly what is happening this isn't enough to draw a grand conclusion from. How much better does the S5 do with the S-View case on? I see it definitely has an impact on my note 3.

    Most games don't run at max GPU clock rates either, a lot cap the GPU(real racing, dead trigger 2) at 300Mhz and never hit peak rates. Does the HTC M8's performance mode override this and force these games to run at max clock rate. Very annoying with my note 3 it gives me worse FPS than if it would run at 450mhz because it's trying to avoid throttling.

    How these phones perform in games is a much more complicated, I'd like to see tests more akin to what you see for desktop graphics cards.
    Reply
  • JoshHo - Tuesday, May 06, 2014 - link

    Ultimately, it's up to the OEM to optimize their thermal governor to keep the lower bound of performance high while keeping temperatures in check.

    We cannot control for heat output perfectly, but just looking at the S5 and M8 there's a difference that can't be ignored when both are on the same platform with largely similar size.

    I will look into fixed time step testing though, that may produce more relevant data.
    Reply
  • jdrch - Tuesday, May 06, 2014 - link

    Thanks for the really good writeup as always. It annoys me when reviewers refer to subjective "feel," as that has nothing to do with build quality. I'm not partial to any particular type of material, I just care that my phone is impact resistant, among other things. So far 2 out of 3 smartphones I've had have been plastic. Reply
  • whatsa - Tuesday, May 06, 2014 - link

    Nice write up...
    The heat issues seem somewhat academic with the general usage.

    Given most people have cases for droids and iphones you may as well say worse
    than polycarbonate alone regardless of base material?

    I do notice that wp users tend not to have cases so I guess the issue is really making phones that are to be used without a case for those numbers to have any relevance.
    honestly, without improvements in battery energy densities isn't it a moot point about the heat issues ?
    Reply
  • JoshHo - Thursday, May 08, 2014 - link

    The heat issues are very much a problem. Any game will cause throttling, as will high levels of modem access in low reception areas. Reply
  • grahaman27 - Wednesday, May 07, 2014 - link

    Kevlar would be my material of choice. looks good, feels soft to the touch, and is very good for impact resistance. Reply
  • Calista - Friday, May 09, 2014 - link

    Joshua, you told us it could be a magnitude of difference in cost between a case made of plastic and one of metal. But "a magnitude" doesn't say a lot if the cost of plastic is 10 cents and the cost of metal is one dollar. As have been proven by a number of inexpensive Chinese phones and tablets metal as such seem to add very little to the overall cost of the device. Reply
  • madwolfa - Friday, May 09, 2014 - link

    Tiny iPhones in a huge ass cases always looked ridiculous to me. Reply
  • e34v8 - Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - link

    Great article! Informative and interesting!
    But the "everyone uses a case" statement is so wrong. One of the major reasons I got my Optimus G E975 was the premium feel that the glass gives in everyday use. i can't imagine putting it in some plastic case.

    Other than that, it is spot on. Neatly all of the flagship phones are good enough, so material choice will bi key.

    Great article!
    Reply
  • Hypnos - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    On magnesium alloy casing;

    It's interesting to note that NEC released a laptop in japan with a body made of lithium-magnesium alloy. Resulting in a very light 13.3" ultrabook (the LaVie Z @ 795g). I wonder if/when this will come to smartphones.
    Reply

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