Opinion post by
C. Scott Brown
I distinctly remember the first time I held the HTC One M7 in my hand. The smooth aluminum chassis felt cool to the touch, as if it had just come out of a refrigerator. It had a good weight to it that made it feel as if I was holding a device that cost twice as much as it actually did. I had a lot of thoughts at the time, but the last thing on my mind was putting that phone in a case. It was made of metal!
I had a similar feeling the first time I used a OnePlus One. That sandstone back was almost like a built-in case. Holding it made you feel that even if you loosened your grip on it entirely, it would still stick to your hand. I never owned a case for my OnePlus One.
Eventually, though, these designs vanished. As wireless charging became more prevalent, manufacturers were forced to abandon metal builds and other alternative solutions. Apple went all-in on glass for the iPhone 4, and Android OEMs followed suit very quickly. In 2020, there isn’t one bonafide flagship smartphone that doesn’t incorporate a “glass sandwich” design.
Related: The best Android phones you can buy right now
As many people reading this will agree, it’s unfathomable to use a glass sandwich phone without some kind of case. Even if you’re not afraid of dropping it and cracking the glass all over, the slipperiness of the glass makes holding it awkward.
I really miss the days of letting my phone go naked and free.
Credit: Oliver Cragg / Android Authority
People who religiously follow the smartphone industry will quickly point out that there are plenty of 2020 devices without glass backs. The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 has a plastic back, as does the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE. The Google Pixel 4a and its 5G-powered sibling also have plastic backs. The Google Pixel 5 even has a weird aluminum/plastic hybrid back that still allows for wireless charging.
Related: Google Pixel 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE: Which is better?
However, you’ll notice that most of those phones are mid-rangers. In the cases of the Samsung phones, they are watered-down versions of flagships. The closest thing to a total flagship package launched this year without a glass back is the Xiaomi BlackShark 3 series. Those phones have aluminum backs and high-end specs. But guess what? They aren’t officially available in the United States (and have pretty mediocre camera systems).
In other words, I am left with a tough decision: do I want a flagship-quality smartphone that…