As Samsung plans for an early 2016 Galaxy S7 release, it is inevitable that leaks and speculation will intensify. Despite murmurings and information emanating from close to the Samsung supply chain, no-one is quite sure what to expect from this flagship smartphone as of yet. But more news has emerged recently which gives us a better idea of the physical construction of this device.
Samsung’s metallic fixation
Samsung has certainly moved away from the plasticky feel of the earlier Galaxy S releases in recent iterations. The glass and metallic design that Samsung has delivered with the Galaxy S series has certainly found favour with consumers, and it was anticipated that the corporation would continue this with the Galaxy S7. Murmurings have emerged that support this idea, but which also challenge some of our preconceptions about this forthcoming smartphone.
It was widely expected that Samsung would construct the Galaxy S7 out of a combination of aluminum and glass, but instead a magnesium alloy could be used for the first time. A report has indicated that this magnesium substance will be utilized for the exterior frame of the handset, with the material also likely to be found inside the Galaxy S7 as well.
The average smartphone user may not be particularly clear on the differences between aluminum and magnesium, except for the fact that they have two different, if similar sounding, names. But the properties of the two metallic elements are in fact significantly different, and this ensures that the Galaxy S7 will benefit from the inclusion of magnesium should it indeed come to fruition.
The properties of magnesium
Magnesium actually isn’t ideal for utilization in a consumer product owing to the fact that it is unusually reactive. This is why the element is mixed with other metals to create various alloys, with aluminum and zinc often utilized in particular. This means that magnesium alloys are often seen in consumer electronics products, with premium laptops, digital cameras, and even some cell phones already using such substances.
The massive advantage of magnesium alloys is that they enable weight reduction to be achieved. This has made magnesium alloys particularly popular with such technology as airplanes, rockets and other large-scale machinery. Magnesium alloys are approximately 33 percent lighter than aluminum alloys, yet they are just as strong, and easier to manufacture.
This would already be a major advantage in itself, but there are several other differences that separate magnesium alloys from those derived from aluminum. It is often asserted that magnesium alloys are superior to aluminum alloys in terms of mechanical characteristics. They are particularly strong and durable, and also show strong capabilities in the dissipation of heat. Magnesium alloys also fare well in terms of dampening vibrations and shock absorption. They also have a massive impact on the transition of radio waves.
Finally, it is far easier to construct structural elements such as bodies and chassis out of magnesium alloys. This is due to the fact that the material has favorable mechanical properties and a lower melting point than aluminum.
Why the delay?
Considering the seeming cavalcade of advantages that magnesium alloys have over the existing aluminum utilized in the Galaxy S range, one might wonder why this metal hasn’t been used previously. The reason for this is that aluminum established itself in manufacturing processes very rapidly, owing to the fact that it was cheap to obtain. The adoption of magnesium for commercial processes followed much later, and once the existing procedures were in place, manufacturers naturally continued to utilize the devil they knew.
However, this is beginning to shift as manufacturers and developers begin to recognize the advantages of magnesium. The popularity of the substance is on the rise as the cost-efficiency of the substance has begun to rival aluminum. Although raw magnesium is more expensive than aluminum, the fact that it is easier to machine ensures that its alloys are now roughly as expensive as those constructed from aluminum.
So if the Galaxy S7 is to embrace magnesium, it could form part of a major shift in the consumer electronics industry. And it certainly seems that magnesium alloys will offer numerous advantages to this critical product for the Korean manufacturer. But will Samsung actually include magnesium alloys in the Galaxy S7? This certainly hasn’t been decided at the time of writing, and the suggestion should be treated as very much a rumor.
But what can be said is that the chances of seeing a Galaxy S7 constructed from magnesium alloy are not slim. It is now perfectly plausible for this to occur, and also for the device to be manufactured at an affordable price point. When these two aspects are factored into a mixture which also contains the advantages of magnesium alloys, then there are clear reasons why the consumer electronics giant may wish to rely on the substance for the Galaxy S7.
Additionally, although this would be a significant innovation for Samsung, the existence of devices featuring magnesium alloys are already prominent. The Microsoft Surface tablets, the OnePlus 2, and the Oppo R1 all have bodies made of magnesium alloy, but there is no doubt that the Galaxy S7 would be the biggest device to adopt this substance as of yet. Additionally, it should be pointed out that Samsung is already familiar with the material, as its NX1 digital camera boasts a sturdy magnesium body.
So there are numerous reasons to suppose that Samsung may include magnesium alloys in its next generation Galaxy S7. This suggestion can be added to the list of possible features that the Korean company may include in its mainstream smartphone.
One possibility that Samsung could explore, if indeed it is logistically possible, is manufacturing some of the Galaxy S7 models from aluminum and some from magnesium alloys. With Samsung linked with the production of several Galaxy S7 devices, this would be a way to phase magnesium into its production processes in a relatively steady fashion.