Oh, the pain of a masked smartphone!
Looks glassy and classy? Quick, slap a cover on it!
Be it the dark green of the iPhone 11 Pro, the dazzling multi-color reflecting back of the Galaxy Note, the fiery red notes of the Redmi K20, the concrete and brick driven Realme special editions, or the simple understated Onyx Black class of the OnePlus, smartphones have never looked more beautiful than they do today. Design, which was merely about how the phone sat in one’s palm is now much more than that.
Devices even in the budget segment have started looking more premium than ever (check the Realme 6 Pro and the Redmi Note 8 Pro if you believe us not) and the premium ones have obviously taken their design game up by several notches. It has almost become routine for devices to come with tall, bezel-less, notch-donning displays on the front and shiny, glossy glass or glass-like material with different patterns on the back.
Now that they are more stunning looking than ever before, you would think this would be the best time for people to flaunt the design of their smartphones. Who would not want the world to see their hands over a curvy, shiny, glossy back which creates different patterns when light hits it, right?
But what may seem like an opportunity to flaunt is actually a stronger calling for protection.
The case for cases
Ever since the pandemic, all of us have been caged in our masks for our own protection. And while this might be a new phenomenon for us, we have been forcing our phones to stay masked for a long time now. We have been caging our smartphones in sturdier and studier (and then some more) masks, or cases as we traditionally call them. It is the first thing we rush to buy as soon as we get a new smartphone. Yeah, we get a very good looking device, And then we try to cover it. That sound? That’s irony dying its death!
About three years ago, we had written about how glass-backs were a pain. We think the smartphone gods got a little offended at this and then dipped every smartphone possible in molten glass just to get us back for writing that article. Now that we literally have our hands full of glass-backed smartphones, we can not help but case them.
For every premium, elegant, glass-y smartphone that we get, we get a flimsy, existential crisis-ridden, plastic case that screams, “little to no thought went into making me.” But this is not a sob story for the plastic case. It is a sob story for the exquisite back that starts to look painfully mediocre (if not ugly) as soon as it dons that plastic-ky shield.
Tough glass? Tech Oxymoron alert!
But glass is not as fragile as it looks! At least we have been told so. Toughened glass is an age-old concept and we have seen companies brand their smartphones with newer generations of toughened glass as they hit the market. But all of us deep down know-how ‘tough’ the toughened glass really is. All of us have seen far too many smartphones falling prey to the ‘broken glass syndrome’, sometimes even when they have their cases on, which does not make a great case for it (pun intended).
We have got nothing against anything that makes our smartphones look more premium and glass is definitely a material right on top of that list. But maintaining it is a lot of work. We have seen glass pick up scratches and bruises even because of the case covering it!
Yes, glass helps with wireless charging (a feature that we rarely see under the Rs. 30,000 price tag, though) and all that shine and glass does make our eyes sparkle, but what is the point of having that beautiful design when you have to cover it? Often under hideous cases that come in the box. Yes, there are some absolutely gorgeous cases in the market that add to the beauty of your smartphone, but we did not buy a great looking smartphone just to put a cover on it, did we?
Others have class too
And it is not as if alternatives do not exist. We have seen brands using material that is very similar looking to glass but is not as fragile or smudgy. Samsung’s non-glassy interpretation of the glass back involves a material that the brand likes to call “glasstic.” It is all things glossy and shiny, minus the fragility. Other brands like Vivo and Oppo have also launched smartphones that have glass-like backs which definitely look the part. So much so that there have been times when many, including us, have had to go back to the spec sheet to see whether it is actually plastic or glass because the interpretation is so good.
So while glass does have its plus points and looks fantastic, we do wish the phone brands would look at some other materials. We have got nothing against the glass. If anything, we actually love the way it looks, feels, and the fact that it makes room for wireless charging. Having said that, we would like to see either a glass back that is actually tough enough to teach scratches and smudges a lesson or two on social distancing. Or simply a material that does not need shielding 24×7.
It is bad enough we have to be masked, why put our smartphones through the same?