Opinion: Stop making ‘thin’ a priority in phone design

Every year when Apple announces its latest iPhone, iPad, or any other device, it will often compare it to the previous generation of that device. Usually, the company will briefly discuss the improvements made to the new generation, such as the spec upgrades in memory, processor, battery, and other aspects that make using the device a much more enjoyable experience. However, one area where almost all companies spend too much time and energy catching attention is in the thickness (or rather thinness) of the devices. We always hear stats like “20% thinner than last year’s model” or “world’s thinnest smartphone” attached to the announcements on devices. We get it, thickness is a selling point, but at this point, is it really relevant?

iPad2-thinness

This hadn’t been a huge consideration for me with previous leaks of the iPhone 6. At first the thin models were seeming to just be a concept creator’s dream. Because, sure, having an iPhone being even thinner would be cool, right? However, earlier there was a leak regarding a case for the “iPhone 6″ that showed that the device could be as thin as the current iPod Touch. Yeah, this is a great idea, but my concern is at what point will this stop being a focal point of manufacturers? Now, while some will still want the thinnest device possible, I would still argue that at some point, it doesn’t really matter. The current generation of devices are already incredibly thin (compare an iPhone 5 to something like an old school Blackberry and you’ll see my point). What’s the point of them being thinner?

Instead, if these companies have the ability to make the same power in a smaller form factor, why not make the device more powerful? Add more advanced and powerful components, and sacrifice some of the thinness of the device for functionality. Plus, most people will likely put a case on their device, adding thickness anyway.

iPhone 5 vs. 4S

While I love thin devices, I still think that I’d rather sacrifice a few millimeters for a more powerful device that is less likely to be obsolete (spec-wise) in just a year. By adding more powerful components, it makes devices more likely to be able to last longer. In addition, a little thickness to the device also makes it stronger and feel more sturdy in the hand. If a device is too thin, it seems like it could just snap in half, and at a certain point, it probably could fairly easily.

I’m not saying that there shouldn’t ever be a thinner device than a current iPhone, but I am saying that it needs to stop being a priority for companies. It shouldn’t be a focus of the design of the device. Instead they should choose the best components for the inner workings of the phone, and then design the case around those components. Plus, if an iPhone 5s/5c is too thick to fit in your pockets, your pants are probably too tight anyways.

What do you think? Do you think thinness should be a priority, or do you think that companies should work on adding more powerful components in a still reasonably thin device? Leave your comments below, and let us know what you think!

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  • RedGeminiPA

    I partly agree with this, but not for the sake of putting in “better” hardware. Each new iPhone already ships with pretty great internal hardware. Some would even argue it often sets a new benchmark each year (64-bit A7, M7 motion co-processor and TouchID).

    My biggest concern is battery life. If Apple kept the same thickness of the iPhone 5/5S/5C, but utilized whatever new battery tech they’re going to use in the next iPhone and took advantage of the extra space, they could introduce a 2-day’s use iPhone. Instead, Apple is obsessed with thin, which kills that dream. Maybe they have some magic in battery tech coming later this year that will shock us all, but I’m going to bet it won’t be a huge improvement over the current iPhone in terms of battery life.

    • http://www.todaysiphone.com/author/gkoupal Griffin Koupal

      I absolutely agree that battery life should be a major factor as well. But I also think that if some companies spent as much time on internal components as they did on trying to make a device thinner, they could put even more advanced components. But still, battery life does remain one of my biggest complaints about the iPhone.

    • Anthony Snyder

      You don’t even know yet. Thin doesn’t mean worse battery life. In fact, when the iPhone 6 comes out with 30%+ more battery life… you’ll see what I mean.

      • Joe_HTH

        It almost always means less battery life. The thinner the device, the smaller the battery has to be. The iPad Air has worse battery life than the iPad 4.

        • Anthony Snyder

          Not at all… The iPad Air has been rated up to 14 hours of battery even though Apple says it’s the same.

  • AussieB

    I don’t really think the average consumer cares about a few mm. Its getting to the point of no return

    • Anthony Snyder

      A lot of people care about how the phone feels in the hand though. At this point we don’t know whether 6mm is too thin or not.

      • Joe_HTH

        The problem is most of these super thin phones don’t feel good in the hand. It’s like holding a damn credit card. The Lumia 1520 is 8.5mm thick and feels much more comfortable in the hand than an iPhone 5S.

        • Anthony Snyder

          That’s why the newer phones will be rounded and larger height and width.

  • Darren

    If they could make a phone 20% thinner, I’d prefer they keep it the same thickness and make the battery 20% bigger. I’d prefer a bigger battery than a thinner phone.

    • Anthony Snyder

      How about they make the phone feel better in the hand and increase battery like 50%.

      Don’t forget that Apple improved battery life on the iPad Air while decreasing battery capacity and physical size…

      Expect the same with the iPhone 6.

  • Danny Kim

    i couldn’t agree more. i felt like i was the only one feeling this way…. I would rather they add thickness by a few millimeter of the the damn batter would last a day or two… i don’t want them to say we took 20 percent of the thickness but still keep the same battery life.. shits gets old and constantly charging every 8 hours suck major ass.

    • Anthony Snyder

      Don’t forget that Apple improved battery life on the iPad Air while decreasing battery capacity and physical size…

      Expect the same with the iPhone 6.

      • Danny Kim

        the iPad have MUCH more room to work with so regardless of what they did they can compromise. iPhone doesn’t have that option. All i asked is a phone that can go 2 days without needing to charge if they can do that ill upgrade if not i might be shopping for a new manufacture.

  • Anthony Snyder

    I agree but you don’t even have the phone yet. Once you pick up the phone and feel it and learn about the insides of the phone, you might just regret you said anything about it being too thing.

    You could have said the something when the iPhone 4 came out and was thinner than it’s predecessor. “It could have had a larger battery!” But instead it got thinner…

    But you have to realize that they have yet to create the most ergonomic iPhone. This 6mm iPhone might just hit the spot with rounded edges and this larger height and width.

    • http://www.todaysiphone.com/author/gkoupal Griffin Koupal

      My point, though, is that there are phones out there now that aren’t 6mm, but still feel great in the hand (HTC One M8)…and if Apple has the ability to make a phone that thin, they could definitely improve on the battery life and not make it as thin

  • Hondamaker

    If I had a thinner phone and I forgot to take it out of my back pocket, and I sit down—Craaaack! Broken phone. I think it’s thin enough. What would be the purpose of it being thinner?

  • http://www.chinavasion.com/china/wholesale/Cheap_Mobile_Phones/ Liza Jenifer

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