by Al Sacco

What the designer of Samsung’s sexiest phones thinks about your ugly case

Aug 03, 2016
AndroidComputers and PeripheralsConsumer Electronics

The man who designed 'the world's best-selling Android smartphone' and Samsung's new Note 7 shares what it feels like to see consumers cover up all of his hard work with ugly phone cases.

samsung galaxy note 7 s pen coral blue
Credit: Samsung

I first met Samsung’s Senior Industrial Designer Hong Yeo last year, shortly after he and his team finished designing what was at the time, Samsung’s best-looking smartphones ever: the Galaxy S6 and GS6 edge phones. 

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Samsung Senior Designer Hong Yeo

With a background in automobile design at companies including Volkswagen and luxury sports car maker McLaren, Yeo brought a clear eye for sweeping lines, seemingly endless curves and vivid colors to the first set of phones he envisioned for the leading Android phone maker. Since then, the GS7 edge, another Yeo creation, became “the world’s best-selling Android smartphone model in the first half of 2016,” according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

This week, Samsung unveiled its latest and greatest mobile device, the Galaxy Note 7, in New York City, where I had a chance to catch up with Yeo and discuss the new Note — which, by the way, is one hell of a good looking phone. 

We had some spirited back and forth about the modifications and enhancements Samsung made to the Note 7, but I’d always wanted to ask a phone designer how they feel when a consumer buys one of their phones and then covers all of their hard work with a bulky, boxy and often ugly protective case. So I asked Yeo.

Al Sacco: “When you see one of your phones out in public, and someone has a big ol’ case on there, an OtterBox case or something, what do you think?” 

Hong Yeo, after a hearty chuckle: “It’s understandable. From their point of view, they want to express themselves. You know, that’s fine with us … We recognize that people want to customize their phones. It’s one thing to be fashionable and customize it, and it’s another to actually try to protect the phone. There’s two parts to it.”

Though Yeo’s laugh and knowing facial expression betrayed more of his true feelings about the many boxy and bulky Galaxy phone cases than his actual response to the OtterBox query, the man’s answer to my final question was even more telling.

Sacco: “So, do you use any sort of case on your phone?” 

Yeo, with a smile: “I carry my phone as is.”