Plastic smartphones can be beautiful, too

Plastic smartphones can be beautiful, too

This is probably one of the stranger opinions to come from me, but plastic isn't so bad.

Yes, I'm talking about the iPhone 5c, and no, I'm not exactly an Apple fan. What's also unusual is that I'm using a rival phone, which some people dismiss, to argue in favour of plastic.

On Tuesday, Apple unveiled the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c.

As expected, the 5c is colourful. What surprised - and troubled - many was its price. Despite the plastic casing, the 5c isn't much cheaper than anticipated, starting from $848 without contract. That's $140 cheaper than the 5s, which has more bells and whistles, like a metallic finish.

The thing is, a lot of people think plastic is supposed to be a cheaper material than metal.

But that hasn't always been true. This year's Samsung Galaxy S4 is even more expensive at $998, and there's no denying that it has a pretty plastic build.

In 2008, when the iPhone first landed here as the plastic iPhone 3G, it could be bought only from SingTel with a contract for up to $848. Not exactly cheap.

Beyond price, there's the issue of plastic feeling cheap. This is fuelled by consumers, geeks especially, thinking that metallic phones exude a premium quality and superiority that can't be found in plastic ones. The cost perception certainly plays into this, but metal's looks play a part, too.

Still, plastic can have a premium quality. It's a matter of what plastic is used and how.

Let's take a look at Nokia. Some of the Finnish phone-maker's plastic phones in recent years have shown that plastic can be very beautiful and classy.

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