At this point, why make iPhone any thinner?

“The current crop of leaks around Apple’s upcoming iPhone 7 have a number of shared features, but one thread that runs through all of them is the contribution each choice makes towards Apple’s quest to make the next iPhone the thinnest iPhone ever,” Ewan Spence writes for Forbes. “Apple is utterly devoted to creating not just a thin smartphone, but the thinnest smartphone physically possible.”

No doubt the engineering and the design will be reflected as providing ‘a thin experience that only Apple can achieve’ when the iPhone 7 is presented (presumably in September), but is it an experience that consumers actually want?” Spence asks. “Or is it one that they put up with because the other benefits of iOS outweigh the crippling nature of an anorexic device?”

“Going thinner requires continued evolution of the material science behind the smartphone, which is admirable and useful, but requires more exotic materials and techniques, increasing the cost,” Spence writes. “Going thin also reduces the internal volume inside the chassis for every component that is needed in a modern smartphone. Less volume has a direct impact on the battery, with smaller and smaller capacities being placed inside the iPhone.”

“What’s the one flaw that everyone points out, from reviewers to consumers? It’s not ‘this phone is too big’ it’s ‘the battery life is poor,'” Spence writes. “Perhaps the iPhone 7 will use the reduced component size to put in a bigger battery? We can dream, but they’ve never done this before so why would they change now?”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: At Apple, as has obviously been the case for many, many years, thin is in.

The law of diminishing returns can also be applied to industrial design. Apple’s eternal quest for thinness eventually runs into issues such as bulging camera assemblies, battery capacity, strength (breakability), etc. – is Apple’s quest for thinness now bordering on the quixotic? Is it “you can never be too thin” or is it “thin enough is thin enough?”

BTW, such thin devices would require an extraordinarily strong casing material in order to hold their form through everyday use (perhaps why Apple has continued working on Liquidmetal all these years). “I estimate that Apple will likely spend on the order of $300 million to $500 million — and three to five years — to mature the technology before it can used in large scale,” Dr. Atakan Peker, one of the Caltech researchers who invented Liquidmetal, said back in May 2012.

That said, as we wrote back in January:

Would you trade iPhone thinness for crazy battery life?

Apple is fairly obsessed with thinness.

iPhone models’ depth (thickness) and weight:
• Original iPhone:s 11.6 mm (0.46 in), 135 g (4.8 oz)
• iPhone 3G: 12.3 mm (0.48 in), 133 g (4.7 oz)
• iPhone 4: 9.3 mm (0.37 in), 137 g (4.8 oz)
• iPhone 5: 7.6 mm (0.30 in), 112 g (3.95 oz)
• iPhone 6 Plus: 7.67 mm (0.302 in), 172 g (6.1 oz)
• iPhone 6: 6.9 mm (0.27 in), 129 g (4.6 oz)

We just pulled an original iPhone out of a drawer. It does not feel insanely thick. It feels as nice in the hand as it always did – and the weight’s just fine, too. (The display is a little small, to say the least.)

We have a simple question: Would you opt for a thicker (and heavier, of course) iPhone if it gave you significantly (double or more) battery life?

SEE ALSO:
Open thread: What’d be wrong with slightly thicker iPhone with more battery life and a flush camera assembly? – December 21, 2015
‘iPhone 7’ leak points to extremely thin design – December 4, 2015
The question is not if Apple will axe the 3.5mm headphone jack, but when – December 1, 2015
Apple rumored to replace 3.5mm headphone jack on iPhone 7 with all-in-one Lightning connector – November 30, 2015
Why Apple may axe the 3.5mm headphone jack – June 20, 2014
Apple may be poised to kill off the 3.5mm headphone jack – June 7, 2014
Apple may ditch analog 3.5mm headphone jack for Lightning to make thinner devices – June 6, 2014

Two new Liquidmetal patent applications cover every current Apple product, plus vehicle panels – October 29, 2015
U.S Patent office reveals four Apple patent applications involving Liquidmetal – October 22, 2015
No Home button? Liquidmetal body? What can we expect from next year’s Apple iPhone 7? – October 19, 2015
New Apple patents show continuing work on Liquidmetal – August 11, 2015
The Turing Phone is not made out of Liquidmetal – July 15, 2015
Why does Apple keep extending their partnership with Liquidmetal? – June 25, 2015
Apple extends Liquidmetal exclusivity deal through February 2016 – June 23, 2015
Two new Liquidmetal patent filings from Apple revealed; list watch and jewelry among potential uses – April 23, 2015
Liquidmetal’s Apple alliance yet to bear fruit – September 30, 2014
Apple’s new Liquidmetal-related patent sparks speculation – July 7, 2014
Apple patents method for embedding sapphire displays in LiquidMetal device chassis – May 27, 2014
Liquidmetal-Visser agreement paves the way for more rapid adoption of amorphous metal manufacturing – May 21, 2014
Apple extends Liquidmetal exclusivity deal through February 2015 – May 21, 2014

41 Comments

  1. A thinner iPhone is crazy.

    The camera already bulges out.

    Too thin becomes harder to hold in one hand and type with the thumb in the same hand.

    I want the same camera on the 7 as the 7 Plus will have. So make the 7 just think enough so the camera doesn’t bump out and use that extra thickness for more battery.

    I don’t understand the obsession with thinness. There comes a point where it is thin enough.

      1. The skin on my hand already overhangs the bezel, and regularly, inadvertently launches unwanted ads on this Web site. The bezel already is too thin in the 6S Plus.

    1. Why not have two options iPhone 7 thin or fat. Thin for the people who are obsesses with something thin and light, and thick for those who want more power.

      The manufacturing difference would be minimal. Let customers decide.

        1. It would be a departure from Apple’s usual practice for first models. On the other hand it will finally make clear whether upgraders want a thinner phone or more battery life.

    2. I agree with the sentiments, however one pass I will give to Apple is that they have a record of not listening to the crowd or focus group and showing everyone a better way.

      The crowd and MDN might scream we don’t need more thinness, but the crowd can’t always think different or the benefits of thinking different.

      In fact the crowd usually wants the status quo until someone shows them different thinking.

  2. Count me as crazy, but my iPhone 6S Plus is too thick and too heavy. A thinner, lighter phone with the same battery performance would be ideal for me. I will be first in (virtual) line to purchase one.

    1. Maybe the iPhone 6S Plus is just too big, period.

      I don’t have one but I’ve checked them out every time I go into an Apple Store. Seems the right size and heft overall to me. I wouldn’t carry one in a pocket, but I don’t know that I’d trust something thinner to hold up over the long haul.

  3. A thinner iPhone is going to be the sexiest, most desirable device on the market. It’s a no brainier and APple is getting it right once again by ignoring the ignorant masses that will denounce the product before it exists, and then crave it afterwards.

    1. No a thinner iPhone is a pain to use.

      I have to put a case on the current iPhone in order to be able to hold it without it slipping out of my hand when I use it one handed. There is absolutely no reason to make it thinner except for the arrogance and ego of Apple.

  4. Great question and absolutely no credible answer that would explain how thinner makes it better. I would very much like to see better – especially battery life and camera – than thinner. Even thicker would be okay with me if necessary to make it better.

    1. Oh there is a credible answer to that, apart for thinner is often equated to lightweight, more space in your pocket, less wear and tear on your clothes, but the real benefit is that it addresses the “clunky” commentary someone made about one of Apple’s products, the watch I believe. Of course there are those that are predisposed to judging without actually interacting with a product and you won’t win with those types who judge Apple products as being too clunky or too thin.

      Of course those types of people are easily recognizable for as much as they judge about others when it comes to actions to back up their words, you can wait years for that to happen. So before we hear another diatribe about “worn out name calling which is what people do when their substantive arguments actually have no substance.” folks with notice that this post doesn’t not contain any calling and as such the substantive argument as to why Jay is still here has still not been addressed and yet it’s been well over a year as shown by this quote from Sept. 2014

      “You will be pleased to know that I’m about done with saying what I say on this board – it’s clearly been therapy for me and I’m very close to not needing it any more – I’ve reached the realm of apathy.”

      I’ll leave it to the readers to determine what kind of name calling is appropriate in this circumstance but please don’t count on a substantive response to this glaring discontinuity between what has been said and the follow up action.

  5. I think the thickness of my current iPhone 6 strikes about the perfect balance of battery life, weight and pocket-ability (which is really what thinness is all about, IMO).

    I don’t really need or want a thinner phone, particularly if it’s at the expense of a headphone jack. I like my current wired headphones and will gladly stick with this very capable phone until the proverbial wheels fall off, should Apple indeed go in that direction.

    1. Apple went to enormous lengths to smoosh the iPhones 4-6 as much as possible. None of them feel as comfortable to hold in one’s hand as the original iPhone.

      Apple needs to stop chasing thin and ugly colors. Start delivering what people want: MORE BATTERY LIFE WITHOUT A QUASIMODO CASE, MORE MEMORY, and THE CHOICE OF THREE SCREEN SIZES WITH CURRENT TECHNOLOGY.

      Apple’s inability to outperform the competitors on those points above, combined with the reality that the app store doesn’t have anything that the competition doesn’t have either, are why analysts don’t assume Apple is a trillion-dollar company. The walled garden just isn’t bearing much fruit lately. User loyalty is not to the iPhone, it’s to the apps on the phone. Just like Windows PCs.

  6. Jony Ive only knows four design principles: thin, flat, circular, and garish. There is no longer any research or usability testing. The new iPhone will be thinner, whether that makes sense or not. As long as he’s in charge of design, there will be no improvement. Apple would do well to fire Jony Ive.

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