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Hardware Design Matters [Opinion]

Since the iPhone, many manufacturers have tried to mimic Apple’s design by releasing black slab after black slab. Some phones in particular, like the HTC Droid Incredible, were more similar to Apple’s design than others. Most manufacturers have made little to no effort to make their phones stand out with hardware (with the exception of strange gimmicks like the Continuum’s second screen), instead opting to differentiate with software. While some manufacturers seem to believe the only way to differentiate and get noticed is through software customizations, other manufacturers like Nokia have tried to pursue differentiation through hardware. I believe that hardware can make much more of a difference in connecting consumers to their devices than software can.

One area that we’ve seen very little improvement in is hardware customization. We’ve seen phones like the HTC Surround with its boombox speakers and the Xperia Play with its gamepad, but those form factors are relatively limited, pushing them into the hands of very specific customers. Of course, the best example of the potential for hardware customization has to be a patent Microsoft filed for a Windows Phone with a slide out tray to hold different hardware components like a keyboard or an extended battery (The patent instantly reminded me of the LG Versa VX9600 which had a detachable keyboard.). The potential for this kind of hardware customization is tremendous; it’s a shame that Microsoft hasn’t done anything with it yet (or that someone else hasn’t used the idea). This sort of hardware customization would really help phones feel far more personal and perhaps extend the life of a device.

One of my pet peeves with many devices that I’ve handled is inconsistency with the materials used in the device. The Droid Incredible, for example, is made of glossy plastic in the front and soft-touch plastic in the back. The Galaxy Nexus is just as inconsistent with its materials and color scheme. That kind of juxtaposition of materials makes handsets feel cheap and rushed. Phones with a solid unibody design like the HTC One S and X (I still can’t stop drooling over how nice the hardware looks on the One series), the iPhone 4 and 4S, and the Lumia 800 and 900 really stand out from the pack. Unibody designs show confidence in the materials used and make phones feel much solider than those made of multiple materials.

Perhaps the most important part of hardware design is the screen. Though I really appreciate a well-designed chassis, the screen is what I spend the majority of my time staring at. We’ve mentioned in the past the problems with some display technologies like pentile that struggle to display colors properly. For that reason alone I’d chose the One X over the One S (even though I really prefer the size of the S to the X), especially after seeing the screen comparison made by The Verge. Screen resolution has also evolved rapidly, with phones like the Galaxy Nexus, the Rezound, and the One series sporting 720p displays when only a year ago phones were being released with 800×480 displays. Text on these displays is clearer, images are more detailed, and more content is visible. Finally, laminating the glass as close as possible to the display itself makes a tremendous difference in how a device feels when you touch it. The smaller the gap between your finger and the display, the more responsive and natural the software feels.

One of the simplest things to implement is color options. If you want into any carrier store you’ll be surrounded by black slabs with the occasional white chassis. While the Lumia 800 and 900 are nothing to write home about as far as software goes, the cyan chassis is absolutely gorgeous and eye-catching. If you don’t believe me, walk into an AT&T store – the Lumia catches your eye right away. The simple addition of color options goes a long way in making a device all the more attractive, but it also adds far more personality and intimacy than a hardware spec or skin ever could. Life is colorful, so why shouldn’t our phones be?

I think manufacturers have truly underestimated the power of a well designed phone. Part of that attitude has been fettered to the release schedule for most manufacturers, but many flagship phones like the Galaxy Nexus don’t feel or look as well designed as others like the One X. Software can be a powerful differentiator, but true software differentiation comes from apps, not Sense or TouchWiz. Specs like a 16MP camera and a 1.5 GHz dual core processor look great on paper, but without complimentary gorgeous hardware they’re just words. How a device feels and looks is much more important to consumers, especially as the specs race has raised all boats for the most part. With hardware customization options like Microsoft has envisioned and brilliant color options, phones could become more personal. I already feel like my phone is much more personal than my computer, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want it to be beautiful. Hopefully more manufacturers follow HTC and Nokia’s lead by designing truly beautiful handsets.

  • Tweekex

    Troll post?

  • jdrch

    While I agree that good hardware design is nice, I take issue with some of the comparisons here.

    “The Droid Incredible, for example, is made of glossy plastic in the front and soft-touch plastic in the back.”
    - IIRC, so was the Droid 1. No one had a problem with that. Glossy plastic looks alright but is slippery. Soft touch plastic grips better but looks ugly.

    Also, the Galaxy Nexus is a lot better built than it’s given credit for. Although it felt slick in the hand when I first got it, I’ve never dropped it, which is more than I can say for my Droid 1.

    Also, your paragon of design, HTC’s One series, actually has chipping problems: http://www.theverge.com/2012/4/11/2942239/htc-one-s-chipping-response Looks pretty “rushed” to me.

    A phone should look attractive, but most “build quality” arguments don’t make much sense for devices you keep for 2-3 years max. Personally as long as a phone doesn’t crap out on me out of warranty, I’m fine.

    • Tyler Cameron

      That’s actually wrong. Glossy actually is less slippery than soft touch, and in my opinion, soft touch looks better, though the diretion Samsung took with the SGSII is a step in the right direction. Glossy scratches too easily, soft-touch is kinda ugly. But whatever texture Samsung is using for their battery covers isn’t slippery, doesn’t get fingerprints, and looks good.

    • http://www.vrdwellersblog.com/ Miles Reiter

       HTC says they’ve fixed the manufacturing issue causing that and they’re replacing any effected devices.

  • Aading09

    It’s more like Apple been copying other manufacturers for years. Apple phone looks just like every other candy bar shape phone out there. Stop acting like Apple don’t copy.

  • DanWazz

    Why you be hating on the original Incredible for? Phone was/is solid.

    I agree on the hardware design. You just can’t be putting out the same black slabs time and time again. That’s why I got bored with HTC in the first place. That’s part of the reason I gravitated to the Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus, they’re different and don’t look dated. Also, build quality is a factor too. I enjoy the feel of something solid. The Titan II and Lumina feel solid. I want to hold an One X just to see what all the hype is about. However, I’m an avid proponent of cases, so it’s no my number one priority.

  • http://twitter.com/strifejester Justin Ellenbecker

    Motorola Droid X and/or X2 is still one of the nicest looking phones IMO.  HTC has always felt cheap from the few i ahve seen arnd played with around the office.  LG is the same way they feel like a toy. Motorola has always had a decent phone the Gnex is ok the NS4G feels like a toy and nothing beats my OG.

  • thebigmann

    What it comes down to is EVERYTHING is important. Manufacturers need to divert more resources toward less models and put out a truly complete phone. This shotgun release strategy is a dinosaur from the flip phone era and needs to go extinct.

  • Joe

    Totally agree. I wish some brave manufacturer would change their business model to custom built phones…like how we order laptops online. Built your own.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Don-West/1598385014 Don West

    While I agree with the general sentiment, I think the emphasis on hardware design may be lessened somewhat by the fact that people rush out immediately to put cases on their phones.  I have seen more iPhone 4′s in cases than not.  And I often think what a shame to have something THAT gorgeous covered up by something else resembling a tank.

    • http://ronoffringa.wordpress.com Ron Offringa

      I don’t mind when someone puts a case on a 4 or 4S since both sides are glass, but most other phones should be fine without a case.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jamesloper James Loper

    I agree with you in every aspect. Great post and I hope it inspires more companies to make phones that LOOK desirable, like I can really appreciate the craftsmanship and design.

  • Liderc

    Dumb article.  Sorry I’d say more but you’re talking about colors being important. 

  • bakdroid

    OMG!  You are the stupidest person alive, Ron!  A 16MP camera and 1.5GHz processor IS/ARE hardware!!  There is nothing wrong with the current design layout of phones.  Detachable parts?  What is this a 7 year old’s lego set?!?  Yes, everyone wants to snap in and out pieces to their phones.  Yea that totally makes sense.  Do you even read what you write?  Does Kellex?  Does he even understand how poorly your articles make this site look?  And you try to justify your findings with the One series.  What a joke!!  Those phones have MASSIVE quality issues.  The One X’s screen distorts when you hold it and the One S’s oxide coating chips off.  The same coating that HTC touted that you wouldn’t even need a case because it will never be damaged, yet putting the phone in your pocket causes the coating to chip.  That is horrible design and implementation of their so called “build quality”.  Then you through at us that Nokia makes good hardware.  Their CEO is a moron and just came out saying that dual-cores waste power, yet findings show that dual-core phones are more efficient then their beloved 900.  I have told you this before, stop coming here and writing these pathetic articles.  They demean everything that is Android.  Go away and never come back.  Go write for BGR where your outlandish writing will have an audience!

    • http://twitter.com/reggie1225 Reginald Jefferson

      Boy you’re angry. Miss nap time bro?

    • http://www.vrdwellersblog.com/ Miles Reiter

       Normally I wouldn’t reply to a fevered, mostly nonsensical rant, like this. However for the sake of the comments I’ll correct you on the HTC One Series Stuff. As far as the One X screen distortion goes, I think it’s a non-issue. I didn’t see a single review that mentioned it as a problem. You have to press down on the bezel for it to happen, it’s a bit hard to put much pressure on the bezel when holding a phone normally. Lastly, I tested it on my OG Evo and found that if I press hard enough I can get the same thing to happen, that combined with reviewers not noticing, leads me to believe that the people who reported the issue were simply pressing too hard in an odd spot.

      Now, as for the One S, the chipping problem effected many users, but not most. HTC also handled the situation pretty brilliantly by saying they’ve fixed the issue in manufacturing, and replacing any phones with the chipping problem for free.

  • Austinrgoebel

    I think phone manafactures need to take more time designing products, it seems all the flagships have everything sortwear and feature wise, but lack a good hardwear design. Then the phones with good hardwear designs lack certin specs and features, phone manafactures never make a phone with everything we want.

  • https://plus.google.com/104242241965716988815 boo Jay

    I find HTC phones to be VERY different from iphones.  HTCs feel like they were meant to be in the human hand.  iphones feel like I’m holding the blade of a meat cleaver.

  • HTC1

    yes we need hardware change!!!! And we need iit now. I am so sick of these blahh black phones that all look alike. it’s time to step up the game. That HTC white phone is real nice. Imagine that in different colors. We show off nothing more than our phones so why should they be plain janes. I remember watching movies and you would see a new type phone and want it. Just like the Matrix, i wanted a phone that switchblade open like those (back then)

    Step it up Manufacturers…… look at our sneakers now. I don’t think i’ve sen a white pair in years. Yellow, red, blue, grey, etc, etc.         I even want to change my gnex to white when we can just to have something a little different. (if we ever can with the CDMA version)

  • http://www.naskaras.com/ Thanassi Karageorgiou

    “…
     the cyan chassis is absolutely gorgeous and eye-catching…”

    Who’s eye are you trying to catch with a cyan phone? will it be matching your purse and shoes as well?

    • http://ronoffringa.wordpress.com Ron Offringa

      Yes.

      • http://www.naskaras.com/ Thanassi Karageorgiou

        LOL. I’m just messin with ya bro. Nicely written article as always, even if I don’t agree with it.

        • http://ronoffringa.wordpress.com Ron Offringa

          Haha I know. :) Thanks.

  • Eazy E Dlf

    Great another article on an Android website by an apple lover

    • http://www.facebook.com/jonathanf Jonathan Fingas

      A good technology fan acknowledges that good things come from platforms other than the one he uses.  The iPhone 4/4S might be fragile, but it’s clever and will probably be remembered for decades — it’s not often you see people comparing a smartphone to the work of Dieter Rahms (he did a lot of work for Braun).

    • JT22knight

      ……………………. he said HTC One X and Nokia wayyyyyy more than anything apple

  • Alexander Garcia

    Even though I’ve happily replaced my Droid X2 with my RAZR Maxx, I still look at my “old” X2 and think to myself… “Now that was a well built, sturdy, masculine lookin’ phone! I wish I was still rockin’ this in my pocket.”

    • http://twitter.com/reggie1225 Reginald Jefferson

      Ya know, I never liked the design of the X and X2. Damn camera hump just threw me off.

    • Jared Carter

      I feel like the Maxx holds up pretty well. It’s the 2nd best feeling phone as far as sturdiness closely following the iPhone… and i mean CLOSELY.

      Agreed the X and X2 were also some BA phones. But the only compliant i’ve had with the maxx (other than obligitory HD Screen, locked bootloader, etc…) is that it seems like my kevlar back occasionally becomes “unstuck” to the internals and I can hear a slight unstick smacking sound.

  • Corymcnutt

    You can’r copy the iPhone too much or Apple will sue you!  I think there are many beautiful phones available…color to me is the nicest feature.  A case is not always an option if you have an extended battery or you want to use it in a dock at night or in your car.

  • teh_Jughead

    Please make a biometric screen with a technology like pixelsense for Microsoft Surface. I want to be able to grab my phone with my thumb on the screen and it unlock knowing it’s me

  • WallyIAm

    I must be one of the few that doesn’t care how heavy the phone is.  I’ve read many posts bemoaning the weight and bulk of the Rezound.  I would actually prefer that it had the metal housing and rubberized backing of the OG Droid.  That thing took a beating.  I had a case on it, the cheap plastic broke, and it turned out to never really need it in the first place.  I don’t have the same confidence in my Rezound.

    • http://www.tedpavlic.com/ Ted Pavlic

      Agreed about OG DROID and Rezound. I also was much happier with how to get to the battery and SD card on the OG DROID — a nice metal panel that was simultaneously easy to take off and also very sturdy. However, I did notice that while I was in the rain forest in Panama wearing some powerful bug spray, the rubber on my OG DROID came off in my hands (at least some of it). That was pretty sad.

      I have my Rezound with a full body Skinomi TechSkin (which also covers the bezel on the front, which is different from the Zagg which only covers the back and screen; The Skinomi also has much less of an orange peel than the Zagg on my OG DROID). I was worried about the skin peeling off the bezel, and so I covered that with a TPU case from Diztronic (which makes using the volume a little tough, but overall it’s a good case for the price). Now I feel relatively safe, but there’s a little extra bulk and some extra creaking… and now getting to the battery and SD card is near impossible. I’m afraid to take the TPU case off without accidentally peeling away the TechSkin.

      I just didn’t worry about these things the same way with my OG DROID (aside from the sad bug spray incident in Central America)…

  • MKader17

    Yay Nokia, you are so unique!

    Oh by the way, I think I found one of your prototypes from 5 years ago in my desk drawer. Do you want it back?

  • http://www.cashforsmartphones.com/ Sell My Cell Phone | Crystal

    I am also not a fan of Nokia’s designs. I’d rather buy a Galaxy Nexus than a Nokia Lumia.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=75200646 Stephen Cox

    Seriously… someone needs to make a phone like that one MS patented. That’s the kind of customization that I want…. but running Android!

    • Jakesjunk2005

      No thanks. I don’t want to have to carry three different drop-in cartriges in addition to the phone itself. Plus, that’s more stuff to lose.

      • http://www.naskaras.com/ Thanassi Karageorgiou

        you dont have to carry them all the time. the keyboard could be used for your work day, the battery on long off-days when you’re at a ball game/camping, etc. The gamepad for flights and car rides, etc.

  • ceejw

    I went to an AT&T store yesterday to try out the Lumia 900 and I agree the hardware design is incredible.  My Nexus felt cheap in comparison.  The screen and software on the other hand were a big step down from my GNexus.

  • Jacob121791

    My perfect hardware would be….
    1) Awesome Screen
    2) Awesome Battery
    3) Awesome Processor
    4) Strong Casing

    I don’t really care what the casing looks like. The only point of the case is to keep the insides of the phone safe.  Yes looking cool is a plus but that isn’t the point of the case like it is with the screen.

  • me

    women love the droid razor. it never fails at the bar “omg your phone is so thin can i hold it?” why yes you can

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1525850281 Josh Eck

    Wow, the comments section of Droid Life is getting as bad as the comments section of BGR.  I used to think there were more mature people on this site, I stand corrected.

    • Calculatorwatch

      Triple like, I started reading DL back when the OG came out and people in the comments tried to be helpful instead of insulting.

      • Calculatorwatch

        And funny instead of inflammatory.

    • snowblind64

      Agreed. It’s almost as bad as Engadget now.

      • Lactose_the_Intolerant

        Oh god, no!! I’d rather roll around in 4chan than read the comments at Engadget.

  • greenbacks

    How is the Droid incredible so similar to any iPhone it looks nothing like the iphone hardware. How about the Samsung fasinate that was the iPhone ripoff.

    • http://ronoffringa.wordpress.com Ron Offringa

      The Fascinate was an offender too, but the optical trackpad on the Incredible confused many of my friends.

    • DanWazz

      Sadly, I own an Incredible and my Mom owns an i*hone4, and we have been know to grab each others phone. They are very similar, especially when in black cases.

      I will however say that even with the flimsy feeling back panel, the ol’ DINC has withstood the test of time.

      • staticx57

         Just to be clear, if you want to say that the DInc looks like an iphone, the only one that was released at the time the Dinc came out was the 3GS. The Dinc predates the 4 and the 4s.

        • DanWazz

          As an Inc owner, I know this, but something that came out before another product can still look similar. If you want to talk semantics, that’s another thing. My mother (i*hone4) and I both have black plastic cases around our phone, they are similar sizes, and they have physical buttons in the same place. Once it’s in my hand I realize my mistake, but they are close enough to make it.

  • http://twitter.com/Justinwrites Justin True Anderson

    Huh, when I clicked to read I expected an article bemoaning the apparent impossibility of getting an uber phone.  Every phone seems to be built lacking in one area or another when they simply don’t have to.  Why did the Nexus get a cheap camera?  Why didn’t the Razr get a better screen?  Etc…  There is frankly so little variation in aesthetics as to be completely irrelevant.  When a phone does break the grey/black scale it is immediately a fashion accessory and is usually your first warning sign of lacking software or hardware capability i.e. Nokia and Razr and the gobs of trashy HTC phones with designer shells.  And this article completely leaves out the issue of ergonomics, something the designers of the Galaxy Nexus nailed, btw.

    And who frankly wants detachable anything on their phone. That’s a disaster waiting to happen. Keyboards? Those are as specialized as the Xperia Play. Projectors? Designers need to take a hard look at what the phone is going to be used for. Calls, browsing, document management, entertainment. That means it needs to have seamless integration with cross platform externals. I need to be able to take my phone from my home to my car to my office and have it be the center of my digital soul. I do not need it to match my man-purse.

  • Higher_Ground

    I like the feel of a phone to be solid – not plasticy.  A plastic phone will not last 2 years without showing a lot of wear and tear.  If they build the plastic to take it – like with the casio boulders – then it’s okay if it gets dinged.  If they build it like most current phones, even a moderate ding will probably damage the phone.

    Screens are what will probably drive my next purchase.  I’m not looking to drop $300 on a new phone so I’m hoping the Galaxy Nexus drops in price and I can compare it side by side to the Rezound… not sure if anything else will be coming to verizon worth looking at, maybe the LG phone?  I want the best screen and LTE, anything else is just icing on the cake.

    • http://www.vrdwellersblog.com/ Miles Reiter

       Best screen and LTE? I’m not sure if anything like that is hitting Verizon but from what I’ve seen, the Super LCD 2 on the One X and Evo 4G LTE is the best you can get. They both have LTE too.

  • Newton122189

    Vanilla Android + Awesome Hardware Design

    That’s all I want.

  • AlexKCMO

    Unibody designs show confidence in the materials used and make phones feel much solider than those made of multiple materials.
    Solider?

    I think you were looking for:
    Unibody designs show confidence in the materials used and make phones feel much more solid than those made of multiple materials.
    —————
    Also, I happen to like the non-uniform materials HTC uses.  I have an HTC Arrive for work (WP7) that has this metallic material on the back and rubbery material on the top.  The phone feels very solid in the hands.  Same goes for the Rezound which has a plasticy-rubbery (yes, I know those aren’t words) battery cover that feels very nice in my hand as well. 

    I agree hardware can make a huge difference, but with Android overtaking iOS in terms of market share, I don’t think it makes enough of a difference to give Apple a lead again.

    • http://ronoffringa.wordpress.com Ron Offringa

      I struggled with that line, but solider is a word, so I used it. I agree that some phones can feel solid with multiple materials, but those phones usually have a unibody design with other materials filling in the gaps of the chassis. It makes a difference. As far as market share goes, it’s still too early in the game to write off iOS. Apple has a huge market share now that they’re on three out of four carriers in the US. I’d wait until the next iPhone is released before relaxing about market share.

      • Sobr0801

        As a fellow blogger, its amazing how much time I’ll spend on one sentence at times.

        • http://ronoffringa.wordpress.com Ron Offringa

          Seriously. I hate it and love it at the same time.

      • AlexKCMO

        The thing is, even on 3 carriers, the OS isn’t going to have any significant change, like GB to ICS did.

        Most of the people I know that switched to iOS once it went to Sprint did so because they could get a company line and an iPhone. The majority of my friends that switched plan on coming back to Android once their 2 year commitments are up; especially after I showed them how superior android voice control is to Siri.

        Unless iOS makes some serious advances, I don’t see a huge market increase happening anytime soon. iPhone will always be the best selling phone with the second best OS.

  • Michael Forte

    Am I the only one who isn’t a fan of Nokia’s designs? I don’t really find anything compelling about it other than the color options. I am a fan of the Galaxy Nexus design for two reasons, the slight curve of the screen and the fact that the front of the phone is free of logos. The phone looks so nice when the screen is off and it can be hard to tell where the screen ends and the bezel begins. I wish more manufacturers would stick to putting the logos on the back of the phone. Even Apple does it.

    • BrianWenger

      That’s my favorite part of the Nexus design as well. The front looks like a solid black obelisk when the screen is off.

    • Max0442

      When I look at a Lumia the first thing that comes to mind is an older iPod Nano.

    • http://ronoffringa.wordpress.com Ron Offringa

      The front of the Nexus is gorgeous, but I hate the back. I prefer the Nexus S to the GNex. As for Nokia’s design, I love everything except that the screen isn’t flush with the chassis. If it had better internals and ran Android I’d be in love.

    • Stephen D

      Yeah, it does look beautiful and unique when the screen is off and all you see if the front. And, IMO, it feels nicer than anything else in hand(the One series included, which I HAVE held). 

    • Tyler Cameron

      And carrier logos! In the states, almost every OEM bends over to the carrier to meet their demands of adding a horrifically ugly carrier logo to the face! They need to be more like Apple and say “No. Its OUR device. WE manufacture it. You don’t. Your logo doesn’t belong on my phone.”
      Its the reason the Droid Incredible 2 is so ugly as well as the Thunderbolt. Check out how the HTC EVO looked like before Sprint forced HTC to put their logo on the face! Looks 10x better!
      But Samsung should keep their logo off the face altogether. Their logo is ugly.
      But the ugliest logo of them all is T-Mobile’s horrifically ugly logo! Sickens me! They defaced the GORGEOUS One S! It looks SO HIDEOUS with T-Mobile’s logo!!

  • bigdav1178

    It has amazed me that the OEMs seem to be oblivous to using differentiation in hardware designs to sell their products. Instead, we get the same slab design 6 times over with mm differences in size and crappy software overlays from the OEMs. Good article Ron!

  • http://twitter.com/adammengel Adam Engelbrecht

    I think the curved screen on the Nexus line is one of the coolest design features of any phone out there today.  Really like that look.  I do wish Samsung used different materials for the “case” and back of the phones though.  They’ll figure it out eventually.  

    I also think nearly every HTC phone I have held in hand has felt terrible.  Clunky and fat and gross.  I haven’t grabbed a One series device so that may be a different story entirely.  

    I also love the larger screens on Android phones.  I just wish they didn’t require so much juice to operate.  It will probably always be that way on Android though.  

    • Max0442

      That’s odd. I’ve never held a phone & thought it felt gross. Now if it just fell in a pile of s**t then maybe. As far as chunky, I stated out with a Motorola MicroTac series phone with an ext. battery. That was about 1.25-1.5″ thick. I’d rather not lose features just so it can be the thinnest (expandable memory, removable battery, etc.). I want to hold a phone in my hand, not a credit card.

  • S Awok

    ss

  • Eric Wrigley

    I don’t agree about the One series or the Galaxy Nexus.  I find HTC’s phones to look extremely cheap because of the confusion of colors and materials, and I appreciate finding a phone like the Nexus that is very consistent and neutral.  It allows me to concentrate on the screen–the very thing you talk about staring at most of the time.  Simplicity is better.  Color you can get from a well-designed case, which most people seem to use these days anyway.

  • Cmrudy

    Droid-Life is be moving irrelevant and these boring opinion articles don’t help.

  • Droidzilla

    News flash: Some phones are designed better than others. Film at 11.

    For the record, I love the design of the RAZR and the SGSII. Sleek, industrial, purposeful. I don’t care for the iPhone 4/S because it looks like it’s trying too hard (my opinion). It’s good to have a little objectivity. Just because you don’t like a design doesn’t mean others don’t. I personally like my phone’s design to be sleek and svelte, but no to shout to the heavens, “Look at me! Aren’t I pretty?!!!!” That’s how I feel the iPhone and Nokia Lumina 800 are (with crappy OSes to boot).

    News flash #2: Opinion != universal fact.
    News flash #3: Apple didn’t invent the black, plastic phone.

    • http://ronoffringa.wordpress.com Ron Offringa

      Read the comments. Some disagree with the idea that hardware matters. Also, they didn’t invent the black, plastic phone, but manufacturers are copying them. 

    • iWebDroidBerry7

      My God you are a troll.

    • http://www.vrdwellersblog.com/ Miles Reiter

       Just out of curiosity, are you talking about the “real” international SGSII or the US Carrier versions?

      • Droidzilla

        The international one. A lot of people hate the plastic, but I find it a very handsome device. Different strokes, and all that.

        • http://www.vrdwellersblog.com/ Miles Reiter

          Cool. I am a fan of the international one, I kind of feel that the US models (while still good phones) polluted the design a bit, made it too much like the other offerings on the market.

  • C-Law

    I love the lumia look. If only we could get some cyan android handsets. Or if Nokia wasn’t exclusive to microsoft

  • Captain_Doug

    I totally agree. Hardware is very important and is very overlooked. I don’t think that all black is a bad thing but quality of materials and feel is. It’s hard finding phones that feel good and won’t shatter or fall apart. I don’t want to have to put a case on my phone. I’m usually pretty careful but sometimes others aren’t. Phones need to be both durable and comfortable to hold. That’s right motorola, I’m picking on you. Yes, motorola phones are durable, but boy do they suck to hold. 

  • Mark Wilk

     Manufacturers can take the time to set themselves apart from the pack with a gorgeous phone design but the average consumer is going to cover that design up with a case anyway. For this reason, I don’t think hardware design matters as much as manufacturers would like. Design elements that enhance or improve the experience or performance, on the other hand, matter. As you mentioned, better speakers via beats audio or a controller pad via Xperia Play are excellent examples of this. The Lumia 800 and 900 might be gorgeous and eye-catching in the store but turns into every phone with a case outside the store. I would hate to hear of a manufacturer dropping features in order to save a cosmetic design choice.

    I think hardware manufacturers should incorporate this fact into their design choices. They could even design the cases to be an extension of the device, a-la Apple smartcover (I know it’s only a cover and not a case but you get my point).

  • Zebra

    Hardware durability should also be a big factor. I used my Droid X for over year without ever feeling the need to put a case on it. I had my Galaxy Nexus for only 3 days before getting a case because it just didn’t feel as sturdy as the X. And I can only imagine the Razr is that much better than the X…build quality is something Motorola does right at least.

    • thebigmann

      Been using my GNex case-free since release and it’s pristine.

    • Stephen D

      Moto DOES excel at build quality, but give Samsung credit. I beat up my Fascinate even more than my Droid and the plastic held up a lot better than I expected it to. And the HTC devices friends have had did not hold up as well as expected. They usually fell apart after a while.

      • Tyler Cameron

        I notice a lot (A LOT!!) of HTC devices suffer from the falling-usb-port-issue, wtf is up with that?

        • Stephen D

          I’ve noticed the exact same thing. Buttons also seem to fail and the kickstands fall off. There is not one person I know that owns an HTC device that hasn’t had hardware issues. 

          • http://www.vrdwellersblog.com/ Miles Reiter

             I’ve had my original Evo for two years and it’s in almost perfect condition, no hardware problems whatsoever. The kickstand is slightly looser than it used to be, but that’s probably my own fault for constantly messing with it when I’m holding the phone.

          • Tyler Cameron

            I don’t understand it. I think people just treat their phones bad. All HTC phones I’ve had (Droid Incredible, Thunderbolt, and Rezound) haven’t suffered from the issue. Though, I only had the Rezound for a week lol

  • Usmitcboy

    I look forward to Ron’s articles even more than Kellex’s

    • FortitudineVincimus

      Thats because they have substance.. not stupid surface topics and sh** like f**** Instagram and dumb game reviews like we are 15 years old. Sorry.. but it is what it is.

      • Dr_Buttballs

      • dieringer scott

        Can you complain some more please.

      • Jacob121791

        I want more posts about ROMs and other mods too :(

      • RadicalPie

        Good thing you aren’t their only reader.

      • kidtronic

        It’s funny, because you have the vocabulary of a 15 year old. Thanks for sharing though.

      • bakdroid

        Go read BGR then.

    • bakdroid

      That better be sarcasm.  Ron’s articles are garbage.  Fact.

      • Usmitcboy

         Not at all, pimpin

  • Jlmcc

    dont care for the hard edges on the nokia

  • FortitudineVincimus

    Hardware and design is likely 85% of the reason I would buy a phone. Software.. ah, we are all moving to ICS so really.. no real expectation there or earth shattering changes.

    Anymore the true draw and wow factor and impression comes from design and hardware.

  • Logan_jinx

    Geary article. I totally agree. Hardware design is can be more than half the reason peple by a product. I own a galaxy nexus as well and really wish the main portion of this phone were made of a much more durable material. I really cant wait to see if HTC is going to male the next nexus phone.

  • Zebra

    If you want color, get a case or a skin.

    • http://twitter.com/Defenestratus Defenestratus

      Or if you think that your phone is a fashion accessory and not a communications tool – get a case (on an iPhone since you’re already vain enough to care about the appearance of a tool)

      • kidtronic

        Just because it isn’t a fashion accessory doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be aesthetically appealing. 

    • FortitudineVincimus

      A case is just an attempt to polish a turd in your example. I get your point, but we are NOT talking about color here so much, that is a small small small fraction of the design of a phone. Minimal.

  • http://twitter.com/Defenestratus Defenestratus

    Ron Ron Ron…

    You’re so predictable.
    “Galaxy Nexus inconsistent color”?

    Its Silver/metallic and black with grey letters.  It has two materials.

    Its a beautiful phone.

    • Jonathan Ly

      The back cover is obviously textured in a completely different manner than the rest of the phone.

      The all black front to give the user a sense that the screen is “infinite” which looks nice. However, unlike the Nexus S, the entire body is not one design, and that’s where Ron is getting at. 

      I love my Galaxy Nexus, but the Nexus S simply has more thought put into it than the G-Nex does. 

      • LiterofCola

        +1

      • jcorf

        Exactly what I was gonna say! +1

      • droidman101

        I wish the us version looked like the international version since irs slightly better :/.

  • Destroythanet

    Hardware is one of the main reasons why I switched to Android from the iPhone. A 3.5 in screen just ain’t cutting it for a high-end smartphone these days. That huge, space-wasting physical home button is pretty terrible as well.