Until 2017, it was clear that metal was the preferred material for the phone body. But which metal? Aluminum is the default, Apple used stainless steel for a few years before switching to titanium, and Samsung followed suit.
Each has its own advantages. Aluminum is cheap and light. Stainless steel provides high strength, but is very heavy. This is probably why Apple had to switch to titanium – more durable than aluminum but lighter than steel. For example, iPhone 14 Pro Max weighs 240g, 15 Pro Max is 221g.
Titanium is, after all, difficult and expensive to work with, so it is used in limited quantities. As you can see in JerryRig’s fiery exploration, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra uses an aluminum frame and plastic to hold the titanium plates that make up the exterior. Apple’s build for the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max is a little different and titanium is fused directly to the aluminum frame.
Aluminum is not the hardest of metals, so only well-designed phones can survive normal bending tests. Aluminum will also easily scratch and chip if you drop your phone, as will stainless steel and titanium.
When it comes to stainless steel, Apple is the only manufacturer that has made a real attempt at using it in mass-market phones and has been for some time — from 2017’s iPhone X to last year’s iPhone 14 Pro. There is no way around the weight issue.
When looking for a new phone, do you only focus on devices that use titanium, or is aluminum safe? Want some company to give stainless steel another try?