Ceramic? Leather? Or something even crazier?
These days, almost every smartphone on the market is made from some combination of glass, plastic, and aluminum. There’s no doubt that these materials have served us well — hell, the recently-released Pixel 6a features a plastic back so nice, it was easy to believe it was glass — but if you buy enough devices, it starts to get pretty boring. A whole world of exotic, luxury materials exist that are ripe for smartphone makers to use on their next-gen products, but so far, stainless steel seems to be the most adventurous any company is willing to get.
That could finally be changing. This week, we learned that Google is working on a future Pixel device that uses ceramic rather than glass. It’s not the first smartphone to switch out one material for the other — indeed, the OnePlus X, the Essential PH-1, and Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 4 have all used it in the past. Ceramic is harder than glass, making it less scratch resistant, although often at the cost of durability. Still, with such a premium feel in the hand, it’s hard to beat.
Of course, ceramic isn’t the only unorthodox material we’d love to see in future smartphones, even if it’s the one most likely to hit the market. We’ve seen wood and leather smartphones from the likes of Motorola in the past — their Moto Maker app in the mid-2010s offered both as premium options — while cobalt and titanium have also floated around the industry. As AP’s Ryne Hager reported last year, there are reasons for all of these materials to be avoided by smartphone makers at launch — durability, availability, cost — but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream.
In honor of the potential for a future ceramic Pixel device, I want to know what your dream phone is made out of for this week’s poll. It could be any of the materials I’ve listed below, but if you want to go crazy — a smartphone made out of felt, I don’t know — feel free to throw some oddball suggestions in the comments. In the meantime, I’ll be spending the rest of the weekend lamenting over the Essential PH-1 I never bought.