Weekly poll: aluminum, stainless steel or titanium?

It was clear until 2017 that metal is the material of choice for phone bodies. But which metal? Aluminum is the default, Apple used stainless steel for years before switching to titanium, and Samsung followed suit.

Each has its advantages. Aluminum is cheap and light. Stainless steel provides great strength but is very heavy. Perhaps this is why Apple had to switch to titanium – it is more durable than aluminum but lighter than steel. For example, iPhone 14 Pro Max weighs 240g, 15 Pro Max weighs 221g.

Titanium, of course, is 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 strips that make up the exterior. Apple’s build for the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max is slightly different, with titanium fused directly to the aluminum frame.

Aluminum isn’t the hardest of metals, so only well-designed phones were able to survive simple bending tests. Aluminum scratches and dents easily if you drop your phone, while stainless steel and titanium are more resistant.

As for stainless steel, Apple is the only manufacturer making a real effort to use it in mass-market phones, and it’s been around for quite some time — from 2017’s iPhone X to last year’s iPhone 14 Pro. There is almost no way to have weight problems.

Looking for a new phone, should you focus on devices that only use titanium or aluminum? Do you wish that some company would give stainless steel another try?

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