Weekly poll: aluminum, stainless steel or titanium?

It was clear as far back as 2017 that metal is the preferred material for a phone body. But which metal? Aluminum is the default, Apple used stainless steel for a few years before switching to titanium and Samsung followed that move too.

Each has its advantages. Aluminum is cheap and light. Stainless steel offers great strength, but is too heavy. That may be why Apple had to switch to titanium – it’s more durable than aluminum but lighter than steel. For example, the iPhone 14 Pro Max weighs 240g, the 15 Pro Max is 221g.

Titanium is, of course, hard to work with and expensive, so it’s used in limited amounts. As you may have seen in JerryRig’s fiery exploration, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra uses an aluminum frame and plastic to hold the titanium strips that form the exterior. Apple’s build for the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max is slightly different and the titanium is directly fused to the aluminum frame.

Aluminum is not the hardest of metals, so only well-designed phones were able to survive the usual bend tests. Aluminum also scratches and dents easily if you drop your phone, stainless steel and titanium are more resistant.

As for stainless steel, Apple is the only maker that made a real attempt to use it in mass market phones and it lasted for quite a while – from 2017’s iPhone X to the iPhone 14 Pro last year. There is just no way around the weight issue.

When looking for a new phone, will you focus only on devices that use titanium or is aluminum okay? Do you wish that some company would give stainless steel another try?

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