Why Are Plastic Phones On The Rise?

Plastic phones used to be very common sometime back, then the industry decided to switch and experimented with metal and glass. While metal phones lasted for a few years because of their look and feel, they didn't allow wireless charging and could even hinder phone signals.

Glass phones quickly became industry standard because of their premium look and feel, and no problems with signals and wireless charging.

However, we are seeing a rise in plastic phones nowadays. The irony of the situation is that Samsung was the company that made glass phones common in the first place, with its Galaxy S6 series in 2015, and they are now the ones pushing plastic phones the hardest.

Why Are Plastic Phones On The Rise?

Why Exactly Are Plastic Phones On The Rise?

While one could argue about the advantages plastic has over both metal and glass, you have to understand that companies just don't do things until they're being benefited from those things. Otherwise, it's just bad for business, no?

The simple answer to this question is that plastic is cheaper than glass and also has some advantages over it. Plastic has made a comeback, but it is not without an improvement in the aesthetic. A few years ago, one could have said that plastic phones look cheap and worse than glass phones, but today, the difference has become way less noticeable.

While plastic phones are cheaper for the companies to produce and help them extract more profit, they also appeal quite well to budget and mid-range users. With manufacturers trying all sorts of fancy finishes, plastic phones don't look cheap or worse anymore, they eliminate the part where you use a phone with a cracked back, and they eliminate expensive repairs.

The Pros And Cons Of Plastic Phones


Repairability: As plastic is softer and more flexible compared to glass, it is easier to work with. Phones today, have glass glued to their backs, while repairing a phone the glass panel has to be taken out with a pry tool and requires a lot of heat, which is a very tiresome process and has high a risk of breaking the glass. With plastic, there are no such risks.

Signal Interference: Both metal and glass are materials that could interfere with cell signals, therefore, in glass phones, there are small plastic pads for the antennas to function properly. But when the whole back is plastic, no such problems emerge.

Performance: What companies mostly do with the money saved on plastic is they spend it on a better processor so that they can have a notch over their competitors. This actually benefits the consumer the most, as they can get more processing power for less money.

Low Cost: As plastic is a low-cost material, companies save money on manufacturing. Now, as this is a very competitive industry, they can't keep that money for themselves. So, they either make the phone cheaper or pack in more stuff, which ultimately transfers the benefit to the consumer.

Durability: As plastic is a softer material, it doesn't crack like glass and doesn't dent like metal, while still keeping useful features like wireless charging and water resistance. With a plastic phone, you don't have to worry about a cracked back every time you drop it.


Heat Dissipation: While you might get a more powerful processor in a plastic phone for its price, the processor might not be able to perform its best. In most cases, it is impossible to overcome the limitations of materials, and plastic is an insulator of heat.

This means that your phone is going to heat up a lot because of poor heat dissipation, this could throttle down the processor and cause lag, speed up battery degradation, and even compromise water-resistance as heat softens the glue used to hold the back panel.

Scratch Resistance: Hard materials might crack easily, but they don't scratch easily. While plastic makes your phone immune to cracks, it does the opposite for scratches.

If you were thinking that you could use a plastic phone without a case but not a glass phone, then you are kind of wrong. You can't use either of these phones without a case.

In fact, a glass phone is more usable without a case than a plastic phone is. That is because it is certain that plastic would scratch, there is no denying that, but with so much improvement in Gorilla glass and good phone designs, cracking has reduced to a great degree. 

Look And Feel: This point is a bit subjective, but glass is more expensive than plastic, it looks premium and also adds weight to a phone. All this generally makes a glass phone look amazing and premium.

But again, this mostly depends on you, if you are someone who likes the look of plastic more than that of glass then who is anyone to tell you otherwise.

Glass Vs Plastic

Now, you must be thinking about which is the better material here. As mentioned above, both of these materials have their drawbacks. In my opinion, there isn't a clear winner.

It comes down to what you would like to have in your phone and what you could let go of. For example, if you want to get rid of the risk of cracking your phone back then you could go with plastic, but if you want to get some scratch resistance and are not a clumsy person then you could go with glass.

If you want better heat dissipation and like a premium look then you could go with glass, but if those things don't matter to you that much then you could go with plastic and save some money.

There is one thing to note here though, it's that you won't get the option of a plastic back in the ultra-premium phones. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+ have plastic backs and you don't get the option to opt for a glass back, similarly, with the S21 Ultra, you only get the option of a glass back.

What I mean to say here is that you don't really have an option to get a glass back or a plastic back in any phone that you like. What material you get at the back is almost always going to depend on the phone that you are getting.

Brand Exploitation

In the last section, I mentioned that the Galaxy S21 and S21+ both have plastic backs and they are both flagship phones. Now, if they are really flagships shouldn't they get the best features and materials?

Not only the back material, but Samsung has toned down a few other features as well. For example, in both of these phones, you only get a 1080p display, while in the S21 Ultra you get a 1440p display.

If you are wondering what is wrong with it then let me tell you that it's like a downgrade, up until now, all of Samsung's flagships have been getting 1440p displays.

What I am trying to get at here is a little bit of exploitation that has been going on, of which, Samsung is the biggest culprit as of now. Since the Galaxy Note 20, they've been selling phones as flagships, and at flagship prices when those phones lack even basic flagship features like high-resolution screens and glass backs.

They do drop the prices a little bit, but the difference isn't really that much. Besides, brands like Oneplus provide the full flagship experience at those exact prices. So, if you are getting a flagship phone then maybe take a closer look at the specifications, and know that flagship phones should definitely not have low-resolution screens and plastic backs.


In the end, I would like to say that plastic phones have a lot of plus points, but they are not going to really take over glass phones. What I think is going to happen is that the two materials are going to co-exist because neither of them is perfect, but each one of them solves problems that the other doesn't.

And yeah, beware of exploitation while buying flagship phones from now on, don't end up getting a downgrade. Peace out!✌


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