With Samsung’s second 2013 flagship expected to be released in approximately one month, many are now lookig ahead to the Korean manufacturer’s 2014 flagship, likely to be called the “Samsung Galaxy S5.”

According to ET News, Samsung is gearing up to outfit the Galaxy S5 with a metal exterior and will begin production of the handset by the end of 2013. The tech website claims a sample of the device has already been developed in Europe and will reportedly be sent to Vietnam for mass production.

Murmurs about the Samsung Galaxy S5 featuring a metal exterior have been around for several months with many proposing that Samsung is opting to outfit its fifth-generation Galaxy S series device in aluminum in order to compete with premium devices released by HTC, Sony and Apple. In June, Android Geeks reported about Samsung’s supposed “Design 3.0,” in which the Galaxy S5 would feature a complete revamp in design in addition to an aluminum chassis. But it's pretty early for Galaxy S5 rumors, so these reports should be taken with a grain of salt.

Tech website Phandroid notes that metal exterior rumors are common for Samsung flagship devices. We saw such reports for both the Galaxy Note 2 and the Galaxy S4 prior to their releases, but the devices ultimately hit the market with the signature Samsung polycarbonate casing. The soon-to-be-unveiled Samsung Galaxy Note 3 was also rumored to have a metal exterior early on, but most watchers now expect the device to release with the standard Samsung exterior.

Samsung has been heavily criticized for the plastic designs on its high-end devices, which cost upwards of $500. But the company argues the plastic chasses make for quick and efficient manufacturing that enables release of a new flagship device each year, each selling better than its predecessor. The most recent Samsung Galaxy S4 has notably sold more than 20 million handsets since its late-April release, despite complaints about the plastic casing.

But we have seen Samsung experiment with metal designs in its water-and-dust resistant Samsung Galaxy S4 Active handset, which released in June. The device got rave reviews for its change in material, which could likely be a stepping stone to the manufacturer incorporating more metal into its devices in the future. According to ET News, Samsung is still approaching the concept of metal exteriors with caution and will reportedly do extensive pre-production testing to avoid issues that come with metal chasses, such as radio interference.

While many enjoy the premium look of a full-metal device, there are many downsides to using such materials. Many metal handsets suffer scuffs, nicks, chips and scratches on their finish not long after being unboxed. This was an issue for the iPhone 5 when it first released, with the infamous “Scuffgate.” Many also take issue with the fact that metal handsets usually do not have a removable backplate, which means they cannot feature microSD support or removable batteries. This also makes it more difficult for more tech-savvy smartphone owners to take devices apart for repair or experimentation.

However, many other anticipated devices made out of plastic are now hitting the market. In addition to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, the Moto X is now available on AT&T and is expected to release soon on the Verizon network. The device was designed to be highly customizable, likely aided by its plastic exterior. The LG L2, which is expected to be released in September, also features a plastic chassis. These devices are not without their metal competitors, such as the rumored HTC One Max, the iPhone 5S and the Sony Xperia Z Ultra. It will be interesting to see how consumers receive this smorgasbord of options.

Do you think the Samsung Galaxy S5 will feature a metal exterior? Let us know in the comments below.

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