First Click: Are metal phones still metal?

April 15th, 2016

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There was a time when companies like HTC and Apple could brag about their skills at carving a unibody cellphone from a single piece of aluminum. But what was once considered unique and bold has now become commonplace. What once required hardcore engineering has just become the status quo. Metal is now the conformist corporate rock upon which smartphone buyers worship. What could be less metal? What could be more lame?

If you look in the Verge forums right now you’ll find ECrispy wondering the same while arguing the merits of polycarbonate. Like plastic, polycarbonate is a synthetic resin. However, unlike the much maligned material used on old Samsung Galaxy devices, polycarbonate is that hard-as-nails machined (not cast) material used for Nokia’s piano-lacquered white N9 from 2011, and the vibrantly colored Lumia handsets launched later the same year. Polycarbonate could also be found on 2009’s iPhone 3G (and later the 3GS) and more recently on the iPhone 5C. Best of all, Polycarbonate phones don’t require the ugly antenna lines that you see on the back of the iPhone 6 and 6S series because the material doesn’t interfere with RF signals like aluminum does.

ECrispy contends that "a phone is not a fashion accessory." While that may be explicitly true, people do care about the look of their gadgets. And when the whole world’s a sheep, sometimes it’s fun to wear mutton chops.

So I put it to you, dear reader. Is it time to bring back the colorful and indestructible polycarbonate phone?

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