Phones Build quality. Do we really know what that mean?

Discussion in 'Alternatives to iOS and iOS Devices' started by bmac4, Apr 14, 2013.

  1. macrumors 68020

    bmac4

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    Atlanta Ga
    #1
    So it seems that this topic gets tossed around a lot in the forums, but I am not real sure we know what we are saying. A lot of people talk about how Apple has the best build quality, and Samsung has some of the worse. I think there might need to be some clarification on this. Apple makes the iPhone with metals and glass. It looks great, and may be the best looking phone. Samsung using plastics for their phone, and does not look nearly as good for the most part. But does this mean The iPhone is built better than the Samsung or any other smartphone? I am not so sure that is the case.

    Ok so we have the iPhone. Great looking device that a ton of people love. A ton of people declare it the best made phone on the market. I am going to base this on phones I have owned, so I might miss some things. Ok so lets start with the iPhone 4. Man that is one good looking device. I liked the weight and it felt good in hand. Built with glass from and back and a metal band around it. First problem people had was the antenna being blocked by holding the phone. This lasted for a very long time before Apple started releasing a fixed iPhone 4. The next problem was the back being glass. It sure looked good, but for those people that liked the phone without a case it became a huge issue. Sure the phone was built to look good, but was it practical? This to me does become a build quality issue.

    The iPhone 5 may be held as the best looking phone of all time. The iPhone may have more issues than the 4. First the iPhone 5 was built to be light, so Apple used thin Aluminum on the iPhone. The aluminum has been said to bend when you put it in your pocket. I am not going to call that quality. Next the aluminum was covered in a finish to make it look better. It does look good, but people are having issues with the phone scuffing. Not only from people dropping the phone, but iPhones were coming out of the box scuffed. Again I don't call this quality. The iPhones are built to look and feel good, but are they built to withstand any kind of drops? I am not sure.

    Ok so on to the notorious Samsung phones. I think this is complete opposite of Apple. They are not built with just looks in mind. I have had the Samsung nexus and Samsung galaxy nexus. The only issue I had with the nexus s was having search button at the bottom would sometimes not light up. It was a known issue with the phone. Samsung phones are known to be dropped and be fine. Most of the time the only thing that happens is the back comes off. They may not look at good as iPhones, but they are much more durable.

    I also own the nexus 4 and while it is the besting feeling phone that I have put in my hands. The back glass is not that strong. I would not call that great build quality either. I still liven the phone.

    I am still a big fan of all these phones, but I think the words build quality get used way to loosely. The iPhones design is unrivaled, but I don't call it build quality. Samsung has a reason for the plastic and it because of dropping it.
     
  2. macrumors 603

    GimmeSlack12

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    #2
    Ultimately you're right. It's a web forum and words get tossed around way too easily.

    You have to learn, as a user, to steer clear of just about 95% of discussions on these sites because what you think people are talking about is most likely not what they're talking about (lookup how often people post about converting a PPC Mac into an Intel Mac :eyeroll: )

    I've cut down the amount I post on MR because many threads are destined to become lame little spats about nothing.
     
  3. macrumors G3

    mattopotamus

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2012
    #3
    I think you are putting too much thought into this. Yes, we all know what we mean when we say build quality and most people would agree apple has some of the best quality phones in that aspect.
     
  4. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2013
    #4
    With all due respect I think you are flogging a dead horse. Personally I think it's understood what is meant by built quality even if its referring to material choice . You're not going to change how people express themselves but I get the frustration.

    I'd go even further than your explanations of what constitutes 'build quality'. Despite iPhone 5s bending under stress I still think the build quality is good. The build materials however are suspect and not fit for purpose. I wold describe this as poor build Materials.

    again, For me if the Phone is made from paper but its constructed well, I would describe the e build quality as good. The build materials however are highly suspect.

    I would then say it wasn't built properly which is general enough to cover both choice of materials and construction method.:)

    Now someone point out where semantically I've made an error lol.

    On a Side note I agree that plastic is the more durable material of choice for phones since are likely to drop them over a contract period. I also think the majority of people outside forums really don't care about their phones being made out of plastic.
     
  5. bmac4, Apr 14, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2013

    thread starter macrumors 68020

    bmac4

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    #5
    I think it is on purpose that Samsung using plastic.

    ----------

    No you dont know what you mean because if you did you would not keep saying Apple's build quality is great. They have the best design, but quality of materials used can lack at times.
     
  6. macrumors 68030

    blackhand1001

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2009
    #6
    Samsung devices also always rank as the most repairable phones and the easiest to do as well. They design these things with serviceability in mind. I don't really like the ultra glossy finish on the s3 and note II though although a case fixes that. The galaxy nexus had a much better finish. The best finish on a samsung device though is the nexus 10. It feels amazing in your hand.
     
  7. macrumors 604

    onthecouchagain

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    Mar 29, 2011
    #7
    I still really love the Galaxy Nexus back plate, that textured back. It was nice.
     
  8. thread starter macrumors 68020

    bmac4

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    #8
    I would agree. Best back made to this point. I really like the look of my nexus 4 on the back, but no where near as much grip.
     
  9. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2012
    #9
    I would say the build quality is about how it fares with day to day life. How well a phone can survive a drop test is a different matter.

    If we use cars as an example, you wouldn't test the build quality by crashing it into a wall (an analogy to dropping a phone on concrete) would you? It would be driving it normally, or seeing how it can handle a few kids biting everything or whatever it is they do.

    I would say iPhones do have good build quality in general. But then with the 4 and 4S, using the home button too much often made them become spongey in feel or just not work any more. That's day to day use, and that's bad build quality.
     
  10. thread starter macrumors 68020

    bmac4

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    #10
    They do test cars in crash test. They have to pass those to be sold. With the iPhone 4 they did not work 100% on day to day use. The antenna thing effected everyone. If you had low bars and you held it over the antenna you could not get a call. I don't call that quality. Those types of things I would think would have been tested before the phone was released. Like you said over time the home buttons get spongey. Also as you use them more and more they start to fail. That just does not scream good build quality. I will say it again their design quality is unmatched for the most part, and I guess that is what people are worry about. If it breaks we will just take it to the genius bar.
     
  11. macrumors 65816

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    Sep 16, 2012
    #11
    To me build quality also includes durability. Meaning aluminium and glass are not good quality because they break or scratch/stain easily.
     
  12. mattopotamus, Apr 15, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2013

    macrumors G3

    mattopotamus

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2012
    #12
    I think what he meant was those are extreme circumstances. I know when I am buying a phone I personally am not put off from the idea, "how much damage will this take when I drop it." It may happen, but is not a make or break factor for me. When buying a car I care about safety, but less so than if I had kids. The only issue I have had when owning any iphone was the antenna issue on the 4 you mentioned. Aside from that, the build quality has always met my expectations. I personally have never seen a bent iphone outside of forums.

    When you think of build quality you are mostly thinking of damage it can withstand (at least that is how your initial post sounds to me). I would say most people think of build quality as aesthetics and materials used.

    The sandwich glass phones may not be the most durable, but the nexus 4 and iphone 4/4s have the best built quality IMO of all the phones I have owned.
     
  13. thread starter macrumors 68020

    bmac4

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    #13
    Yea I guess seems more reasonable. I would say though that a factor in buying a phone would be how careful you new to be with a phone. Apple makes good looking devices and for most that is what they want. But I would lump the durability of the phone into daily use. Sure most people don't buy a phone based on whether it will hold up or not, but do you know how many of those average smartphone users drop their phones? I would say more so than what us tech people do. I baby my phones, but average phone user does not. They expect the product to hold up if they drop it. The iPhone 4 looked really good, but from what I can tell the build quality was not as good. I understand that the materials used were some of the best, but that still does not make it quality or smart. That's all I am saying. You can use premium products, but if the products used are can withstand what people do on a daily bases then I would say it is not built in the best way.
     
  14. daneoni, Apr 15, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2013

    macrumors G4

    daneoni

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2006
    #14
    Another bmac post. Build quality to me equals structural integrity and resistance to wear and tear, not extreme accidents or torture. If you drop any phone it's 50/50 shot. No contemporary smartphone stands above the other. Galaxy phones have cracked screens and scuffed too upon dropping them (plastic isn't a super material). Same with iPhones and others.

    It's all about whether the phone falls apart with everyday use. No contemporary smartphone has done that during my ownership. Samsung isn't using plastic for build quality they're using it because of price and quick malleability.
     
  15. macrumors G3

    mattopotamus

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    Jun 12, 2012
    #15
    I will say that my biggest complaint with the iphone 5 is the chamfer edges. The first 5 I had, had no nick issues. The second one nicked sitting in a cup holder, cleaning the sides, or basically just touching it.
     
  16. macrumors 604

    Jessica Lares

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    #16
    Build quality has to do with the quality of the material itself. There is good plastic, and then there is cheap plastic. Some of it is very thin, some of it is very thick. Look at containers you can buy at the supermarket for example, some of it is very durable, others last you just a week. Same thing with food, vegetables are all cleaned and grown differently. Especially noticeable with bagged kits.

    In the history of owning iOS products, I have never had issues with my home button. And until I dropped them, which is an error in my part, there has been nothing that has gone wrong with them, except the time my headphone jack fried on me.
     
  17. macrumors 68040

    0dev

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    #17
    Not really, the iPhone 5 is made of cheap low quality aluminium that scratches and in some cases even bends very easily. The metal on my iPhone 4 got scratched just from putting Apple's own Bumper case on it. iPhones look very good and are usually reliable but the materials used aren't always so great.

    Samsung's plastic phones are actually a lot more durable than iPhones. The plastic Samsung use doesn't noticeably scratch as easily as metal or shatter as easily as glass. I'd much rather have a phone made of good plastic than a phone made of cheap aluminium like the iPhone 5.

    Also, metal makes it hard for actual phone signal to get through the casing. If your phone doesn't get signal it's badly built. My iPhone 4 is case in point.

    That's why I'm glad Samsung isn't giving into this pressure of "make everything metal!" No, metal is a **** material for making phones.
     
  18. thread starter macrumors 68020

    bmac4

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    #18
    I think they iPhone does not do a good job of holding up over time. How many reports do we hear about peoples home button not working after some use. I had the iPhone 4 and my home button starting to act up. We will see, but I think the iPhone 5 is going to start showing a lot of wear too with the aluminum paint coming off and being scratched. Again they do look good, but that is not always what counts.
     
  19. macrumors 68010

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    #19
    It is clear that build quality is extremely important (emphasis on EXTREMELY) when it comes to smartphones only.

    I mean look at those folks owning metal and glass iPhones and HTCs and driving cars with cheap plastic interiors.
     
  20. macrumors 68040

    0dev

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    #20
    I can verify that the home button on my iPhone 4 is pretty much useless.
     
  21. thread starter macrumors 68020

    bmac4

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    #21
    I really don't find it as important as most people on this forum. It was just getting old hearing people talk about how Android phones are all cheap plastic, and iPhones have the best build quality. I just thought I would show that they are not as great as people make them out to be. Some people on here have to have a certain kind of build before they will buy a phone. I could careless as long as it works for me.

    I am with you on the phone only part. Sure cars are more expensive then phones, but if everyone is so worry about on their phones look then why not car about your car too?
     
  22. macrumors G4

    daneoni

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    #22
    ...and how many do we hear about who don't have those issues? None of mine and those I know (7 others) have had home button issues if you want to go in personal anecdotes.
     
  23. macrumors 68040

    0dev

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    #23
    I'm guessing you're being sarcastic here.

    Thing is, I don't think plastic is bad, but it's about the quality of the plastic and how durable it is. This is true of both car interiors and phones. You get a luxury car and it'll have a luxury interior. A Mercedes will have a superior interior to a Ford. Both are made of plastic at the end of the day, but one is of higher quality.

    Same goes for phones - you buy a high end smartphone and it may be made of plastic, but it'll be quality plastic, whereas the cheap low end devices will be of shoddier build.

    Like the OP said, the materials are not the same as quality. One does not automatically equal the other.
     
  24. thread starter macrumors 68020

    bmac4

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    #24
    Well based on my own experiences the home button did crap out me. My iPhone 5 is scuffed. That may just be me, but Apple's materials are not far better than any other smartphone like people want to believe.
     
  25. macrumors 604

    cynics

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    Jan 8, 2012
    #25
    I'm more direct on the definition. The quality in which something was built is what I consider build quality. It has nothing to do with materials or how those materials feel in the hand. Nor how durable or reliable it is to a certain extent, if it fails due to poor build quality that's the exception.

    For example. A houses build quality has little to do with whether its vinyl siding or wood siding. They both can be installed very good or very poorly. Wood is more of a premium material though.

    I'm not debating that material quality can't exist. I find my 4S to have very high build and material quality. I also know its fairly fragile which I do not associate with build or material quality.

    I think the iPhone 5 is lacking in certain areas because of the quality of the coating on the aluminum. That kind of falls under material, build and durability. There are plenty of coatings for aluminum that are MUCH more durable.
     

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