Leather mobile phones in the middle of 2023: the “new” fashion leaves me with mixed feelings

Leather phones seem to live a second youth on Android and for me it is a blessed decision, although it also brings problems

 

Plastic, steel, titanium, glass… Smartphones are made of different materials. More resistant and with a more premium look and feel, the higher the range. However, we have been observing for some time how synthetic leather is established in all types of ranges.

Also called vegan leather or vegan leather by manufacturers, the truth is that It is an interesting and different material to say the least. to what is usually the standard in most. It is not new and in fact we have been seeing terminals with it for years, although they seem to be living a new life.

The novelty that is no longer novelty

As I already said, finding a mobile phone whose materials on the back are made of synthetic leather is not at all new. In fact, they have been launching for years now. They were never a standard Yes, but many manufacturers launched some models with it.

While it is true that they have never completely gone away, now They are living a kind of second youth. And they are not even limited to a price range, but appear in all types of ranges. As recent examples, the POCO M5 comes to mind in the most economical mid-range, the Motorola Edge 40 in the mid-range or Xiaomi 13 Ultra in the most premium range.

In most of them it is not just synthetic leather, but rather A light layer of silicone is usually added to them. which is imperceptible to the eye, although it is perceived by touch. In fact, it is what provides a feeling of greater softness and even helps to prevent resiliency.

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For me, the best material for a phone

I know it’s something very personal. And I do not intend, nor do I believe, to convince anyone that this material is the best. I don’t even believe that at face value and I ask that it be the industry standard, since Each type of material has its advantages. See the much talked about titanium of the iPhone 15 Pro as an example, managing to reduce its weight by up to 20%.

Synthetic leather material of the Motorola Edge 40 Neo (Image: Álvaro García M. for Xataka)

For convenience and one-handed operation, the synthetic leather is the best I have tried. There are quite a few terminals that have passed through my analysis table in recent years and many of them are from Motorola, which I could say without fear of being wrong that it is the greatest exponent of this material in its most recent phones.

Well, each and every one of those terminals that I have tried with vegan leather have been tremendously comfortable compared to others with similar dimensions that have other materials. The key to everything is that they barely slide if the treatment of that leather is well done (the silicone that I mentioned before is key). Apart from that on a tactile level, it feels very pleasant.

This feeling of comfort and losing the fear of slipping It is especially noticeable on large mobile phones. In the end a compact mobile, no matter how slippery its material is, it tends to fall less due to the obvious ease of gripping it well with one hand. In large terminals, leather is something that is greatly appreciated.

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Apart, They are also more resistant to fingerprints and even shocks.. Although dirt is noticeable in darker colors, it does not occur as much as in those made of plastic and especially glass. In the rest of the shades, and also in the black ones, they are cleaned with astonishing ease and without attracting fingerprints. Regarding shocks, I must say that I have not put it to the harsh test, but it is evidence that in the end they tend to resist impacts better and prevent breakage as happens with glass materials.

Heat is your main problem

Obviously not everything is pretty and even declaring myself a fan of this material I can’t help but notice that. Faux fur temperature management is poor. Not average, not the least bit bad. It’s bad and that’s it.

Models like the Xiaomi 13 Ultra do solve heating problems
Models like the Xiaomi 13 Ultra do solve heating problems

 

The microprocessor that the mobile phone has and how it manages the temperature in demanding uses is decisive in a good part, although not in its entirety. I have come across phones with a very efficient processor in these terms and yet notice how The back of the phone immediately starts to feel hot. And that’s just playing a game, but imagine when it’s also summer and the temperature on the street doesn’t drop below 40º Celsius.

Some manufacturers do bet on cooling systems such as a vapor chamber. The aforementioned Xiaomi 13 Ultra has something similar and there is a lot of improvement compared to a mobile phone without a dedicated system. But of course, that is a high-end product and it is not common nowadays for manufacturers to add these solutions to their mid-range and economic ranges.

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In “normal” use, there is no problem with overheating, but with minimal demanding use, the temperature increase is very noticeable.

Here I personally think I find a fairly weak point in the material, although I must also say that It depends a lot on the use that is made.. If the smartphone is dedicated to basic uses of content consumption, Internet browsing and social networks, fine. If you also want to play highly graphically demanding games or other actions that cause increases in chip temperature, there is no doubt that leather should be absent from the terminal.

That being the case, I am also aware of that feeling of cheap material that seeing a mobile phone with vegan leather also brings. However, far from clichés, I believe that they provide clear advantages such as those described. The only thing missing is that in the mid-range they take into account overheating, which is by far their greatest handicap even for lovers of this design like me.