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Will Samsung's next phone be metal like the iPhone?

Rumors emerging from South Korea suggest that Samsung is concerned that the build quality of the iPhone and the HTC One puts its Galaxy Phone in a cheap light.

Will they soon be made of sterner stuff?

There's something about the plastic nature of Samsung's phones that make them slightly less attractive.

To me, that is.

I know that there are millions to whom it doesn't make a difference. There are even many, no doubt, who believe -- in some idiosyncratic way -- that plastic says now, rather than, oh, six months ago.

Some of these people are 13 years old.

However, not all of these people work for Samsung. Indeed, the SamMobile blog last week revealed that it had heard whispers from South Korea that some at Samsung believe plastic isn't quite fantastic.

It appears that the metal sophistication of the iPhone 5 and the recent appearance of the HTC One, with its very pretty all-aluminum nature, have injected additional quandaries into Samsung's furrowed brows.

This has resulted in strong pulses suggesting that the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 may be metal or perhaps some other substance. But not plastic.

Moreover, there apparently existed a metal prototype of the Galaxy S4 that had a lot of souls leaping in Seoul. The time difficulties associated with mass producing such metal phones may have influenced the ultimate choice of the S4's familiar plastic.

Defenders of plastic offer a myriad of practicalities in its design use. But perhaps there is a bigger question: given how successful both the S series and the Galaxy Note have been, has plastic become something of a brand differentiator for Samsung?

Do people truly embrace the plastic nature or is it something they accept that comes along with the joy of large screens and easy sharing of sex tapes?

And what if Apple decided to release its much-rumored cheaper iPhone and it turned out to be plastic? This week, an image of just such a thing slithered into public view.

Would the appearance of an inexpensive iPhone put even more pressure on Samsung to upgrade its materials on more expensive phones?

But if it did, would Apple's aluminum-hearted lawyers rush to Judge Lucy Koh and sniffle that Samsung was copying Apple again? You know, just for the fun of it.

One can imagine some of the tortured questions plaguing minds at Samsung's HQ. One can imagine designers staring hard at production and money people and demanding to have their way.

It's often said that design trumps everything at Apple. What if Samsung decided that it, too, would commit itself to that notion?

Does it really take that much head-banging to embrace metallica? Or, by the time Samsung does, will metal suddenly be passe?