Samsung shuffles design team around; dimple-backed Galaxy S5 to blame?


Samsung Galaxy S5  back DSC05786

Samsung seems to be doing a bit of executive shuffling over at headquarters. Reuters reports that head of mobile design team — Chang Dong-hoon — has offered his resignation of the position to underling vice president of mobile design Lee Min-hyouk.

Immediately, we wonder why. Samsung obviously didn’t indulge our curiosity, but the feeling around the water cooler is that the lukewarm (and borderline hostile) reaction to the design of the Samsung Galaxy S5 had something to do with it.

Main criticisms shared by most were that its dimpled faux leather backing felt and looked cheap, and that the phone’s overall design is uninspired. Rob Jackson wrote in his Samsung Galaxy S5 review that he felt this was a step in the right direction, even if that step wasn’t very big.

Sure, it’s just a phone, but people like devices they carry around all day to look as well as they work. The original Galaxy Gear was also no spring chicken, and while the new Tizen-based gear products have improved in that area they aren’t the most attractive smart watches on the market.

Challenging the theory that Chang Dong-hoon was pressured to resign due to design shortcomings is the fact that he is putting more focus on his role as head of Samsung’s design strategy team. Samsung says the team is responsible for the design direction for all of their products and businesses — that means mobile, too.

Also challenging that theory is the fact that his replacement, Lee Min-Hyouk, was largely responsible for designing the Galaxy S line in its early years, a feat which has earned him the nickname of Midas. Lee likely had just as much influence over the design of the line now as he did back then, so it’s tough to imagine that this move was anything more than a bit of corporate shakeup to cut down on redundancy.

Of course, we’ll never know the true reasoning unless we’re able to wiggle our way into a Samsung board meeting or two, so we’re left to our imagination and speculation. Let us know what you think of the Samsung Galaxy S5’s design in the comments below, and be sure to stop by this thread at AndroidForums.com where people are making a strong case for the Galaxy S5’s craftsmanship and design and drop an opinion of your own.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. The design is bad, but nothing compared to TouchWiz.. Good God man!! Used it for a day and that was long enough!

    1. if don’t like TouchWiz that is ok, i just happen to love it, i hate the boring feeling that vanilla android brigs but there are plenty people that like it, so it’s ok too, it is called choices and i am perfectly ok with that.

      1. I agree and you’re right. I just couldn’t stand how slow and laggy TouchWiz was.. Stock has always been silky smooth for me! Love it!

        1. try htc’s sense. smooth as stock but with a lot more features.

          1. Sense is definitely more tolerable

          2. Thanks. I was wondering what people thought of sense. LG G3 may be my next phone. I’m still using Galaxy S3.

        2. I work for Bell Canada and I’m lucky enough to get to switch my phone weekly to test devices. Having tried to new M8 (my current and daily driver), all i can say was after 3 weeks of use, the S5 had absolutely zero lag.

          I actually found it snappier than the M8 and sense6.

          The people that claim otherwise are just samsung haters…and I am def not a fan of samsung (mainly bc i do not like the design). The new S5 is a great device for the any users. There is a reason its selling so well.

          1. No, its the Brand name and marketiing. Lots of users haev cheaper Samsung phones, so they think of the same when upgrading. They may also have Samsung TVs . Remember the Olympics were big with samsung marleting in canada

            Let us know about the Z2 will you? Is the camera good??

          2. Have not used that device yet. Should have it by next week.

  2. They’ve kept losing in court over nonsense about design theft. Right or wrong, when enough face is lost in an Asian firm, the top guy has to go. Or it could be about the SGS5. Either way, it’s about the money. Or he got a better offer lol.

  3. The back of the phone just reminds me of this: http://toolmonger.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/02/post-pegboard.jpg

  4. If someone got fired over the back cover of the S5, then the same should have happened at Asus since the first Nexus 7 had the same back. Oh, and I don’t really recall anyone complaining about the textured back on that Nexus 7.

    1. You can’t be serious. So you are defending the s5 by bringing up the n7(2012)? The gs5 is a beast of a device no doubt but the overall design(front,back and sides) are horrendous. Their entire design team needs to be fired and replaced.

      1. Sorry. Again. You can’t fire the design team for the S5 without doing the same thing for the N7. Otherwise, double standards are abound.

        Of course, if you think it should have been made of metal and have a full on “premium” feel, then naturally you’ll think otherwise. And that’s also why you aren’t paid to design phones.

        1. My issue isn’t plastic versus metal it’s the fact that the phone just looks boring as hell. The n5, LG flagships, Sony flagships, Motorola flagships, even the HTC flagships before the m7 are all plastic and every single one of them looks far better than the galaxy series phones over the last few years. The fact that the n7(2012) had a similar back is totally irrelevant. At least they made a better looking followup product for 2013. Samsung simply continues to make ugly devices year after year with absolute no effort being made to change that. Sure feature wise, they are number one but I think that just as much effort should be place on form as well as function.

    2. beeecause, Samsung didn’t make it. duh.

    3. No one is going to pull a Nexus 7 out of the breast pocket of a suit and tie. The N7 was fairly utilitarian from the outset (and wouldn’t fit in said breast pocket). Samsung, though, needs to offer some beautiful phones for when we’re dressed up. An Xperia Z2 would look nice . . .

      I’m thinking about getting an S5 (or Z2 or Note 3) this month or next. I like the S5 because of the sensors, the removable battery and micro-SD, and the waterproofing, but I know it’s ugly. Samsung could do a lot better on a flagship device. It looks like an ugly, though tough, stepchild.

      1. “Samsung, though, needs to offer some beautiful phones for when we’re dressed up.”

        That is probably the silliest thing I’ve ever read.

      2. Frankly, you’re doing it wrong if you’re at a black-tie event and _don’t_ pull out a gigantic hot-pink phone plastered with hello kitty… there’s just no other way!

    4. That’s because it’s a hipster thing to rip on Samsung. It wouldn’t matter which OEM was on top, you’d see the same thing.

  5. The dimples on the back of the s5 aren’t just an arbitrary design choice. My genius theory is that the dimples, combined with the matte surface serve to disrupt fingerprint patterns and actually make fingerprints harder to extract from the surface. This prevents sophisticated thieves from replicating the prints in order to hack the fingerprint reader.

    1. Plausible.

    2. Is this a joke?

      1. No, I’m serious

    3. 10/10 joke. A+++++++. Would laugh again.

    4. Despite what TV and movies would have you think, usable prints are actually quite difficult to obtain. More often than not, they bring a fingerprint expert into court just to explain this fact in order to assuage jury expectations. These are the people with the best equipment and knowledge.

      It is especially true of frequently handled items, like a phone where they just smudge each other. Add in spending time rubbing against the inside of a pocket or purse, and it’s even less likely.

      1. Recent research about the s5 fingerprint reader suggests otherwise… Google “how secure is galaxy s5 fingerprint reader” and see for yourself how easy it is to use an existing “legible” fingerprint to hack the s5.

  6. I’m happy as long as they keep the physical home button (or anything other than space-wasting virtual buttons), removable battery and external storage support.

  7. The design is fine. It’s not like anyone buys Samsung’s for their awe inspiring design anyways. Stick with what you know Samsung, don’t try to reinvent the wheel.

  8. I got my black S5 this week and actually like the dimpled back. it’s so much easier to hold than my slippery S3 was, and from what I hear the M8 is just as slick.

  9. The guy that they promoted was the person who designed the S1 through S5. The Galaxy S design language has been adapted to Samsung’s tablets and now even many laptops.

    So they moved the guy in charge of product design and promoted the father of this design language. If anything, this affirms Samsung’s commitment to this design language.

  10. When I get a major cut, I just pull out the S5, remove the wax coating screen and adhere the S5 bandaid to the wound.

  11. i had a chance to look at the S5 and my initial reaction to the phone was “this is it huh?!” The internal are a beast, but they could have in my opinion build it to match what’s under the hood.

  12. I mocked the design from day one along with the fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor. However, after looking at the M8 (and thinking how premium it felt) before the S5 release I realized it’s going to be in a wallet case so who cares about the back. So because of the updated camera, battery, water resistance and ability to get the Gear 2 I went with the S5 and haven’t looked back. I use the fingerprint scanner to unlock and it works okay, better than smudging the screen with a pattern. As for the heart rate monitor – never use it…
    BTW – I can’t go w/o my Gear 2, it’s features are great!!!

  13. Doesn’t everyone put a case on their phone? I personally like the dimples and got a case that resembled the s5 back. I’m not a fan of touchwiz but thats also an easy fix, Google experience launcher. The internals are the showcase. The externals you make your own. Kind of the point of android phones

    1. Would love to find a dimpled back for my S4. I have the Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4 and absolutely love the faux leather back.

    2. i hate cases. To me putting on a case is like having that rear bumper flap hang out the trunk of your car.

  14. I don’t mind the design of the GS5 at all, I like soft-touch backs.

    There are two specific reasons why I’d never buy it not related to the way it looks. Number one is the size, it’s gotten too big. Number two is Touchwiz.

  15. If I could change the S5 design, I’d add some kinda soft touch plastic similar to what was on the 2012 Nexus 7. I really thought that felt nice. Plus it’d still be plastic for weight’s sake. Since the back is removable by the way, are there other options? I guess you can always get a case so as long as it’s thin and light, anything is ok.

  16. I bought a thin leather (or very leather like) flip case for my S5, which completely replaces that dimpled back thing.

    The dimpled back thing is stupid and completely ignored what trend leaders have said about Samsung’s phones. If the aftermarket can make aluminum metal backs, so could Samsung.

    Stupid decision. But then everyone ruins the awesome design of their phones anyway, by putting on an ugly rubber cases that let them express themselves.

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