Android phones have never been more varied, which is both awesome and terrifying.
It’s pretty easy to get lost in the smartphone echo chamber, especially when you play with them every minute of every day. We say things like “just put an AOSP ROM on it” or “everyone has a smartwatch” and it’s easy to forget that we — collectively, as smartphone enthusiasts — are not most people. One of the big things that has been fascinating me recently is just how varied the materials used on the outside of so many great smartphones are right now. Wood, leather, 2.5D glass, self healing plastic, kevlar, aluminum, and regular plastic with smooth or coarse finishes on the back make up the devices on my desk, and there are still more options out there.
Sure, the stuff that really matters is under those materials — whether or not that backplate is removable or how nice the display is, how fast you can get a GPS lock and whether or not the speakers are loud enough to blast from the sink while you’re in the shower — but those outer materials are creating an aesthetic ecosystem that carries with it a series of wildly different decisions in the life of that device, and that’s worth talking about.