Apple’s next iPhone doesn’t need to be faster or thinner

“Better battery life is something that smartphone users have been asking for since the dawn of smartphones and yet it’s one of those areas where we’ve seen the least overall progress,” Adrian Kingsley-Hughes writes for ZDNet. “Sure, what the iPhone of 2018 can do with its battery is light years ahead of what the iPhone of 2007 could do with a battery that physically — and chemically — didn’t look that different.”

“What Apple can do with what is in reality a very small amount of power… is incredible,” Kingsley-Hughes writes. “But battery life has now grown to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, concern for iPhone users.”

“With Apple having to impose software limitations on users because batteries prematurely wear to the point where they can no longer power a device adequately, it’s clear that engineering is taking a backseat to design over at Apple HQ,” Kingsley-Hughes writes. “If I could design the perfect iPhone, I would add a little to its thickness — not much, maybe a millimeter or two — and use that increased volume inside the device to equip it with a substantially bigger battery”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It doesn’t matter how pretty it is if it doesn’t work.

From the “just asking” file: “What’d be wrong with slightly thicker iPhone with more battery life and a flush camera assembly?”

Yes, we know Apple thinks thinness sets iPhone apart from all other so-called smartphones (actually, it’s the operating system, the software and the ecosystem), but… at this point, the selling point of “thinness” is overrated.

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?

So, is it “you can never be too thin” or is it “thin enough is thin enough?”MacDailyNews, December 21, 2015

Open thread: What’d be wrong with slightly thicker iPhone with more battery life and a flush camera assembly? – December 21, 2015


  1. Yes, slightly thicker with a bigger battery is certainly the number one issue. Remember the thickness and weight of the original iPhone? I don’t recall anyone complaining …

      1. “where they can no longer power a device adequately, it’s clear that engineering is taking a backseat to design over at Apple HQ,”

        It serves the gargantuan ego that brought you the thinnest typeface, flattest icons and thinnest phone. Design hubris is out of control since Steve passing replacing common sense and IGNORING consumer requests …

            1. PS-“If I asked customers what they wanted, they would ask for a faster horse” SJ quoting HF

              “We don’t do focus groups” – SJ

              I agree with both statements, I also believe in being feature competitive and have multiple vendors within an ecosystem.
              Jobs absolutely did not go for those, so for me, worse!

            2. @applecynic:

              The thinness meme started in earnest under Cook + Ive, not under Jobs.

              The extreme thin efforts really started in earnest with the iPhone 4. Ive has been saying he wants the iPhone “to appear like a single sheet of glass”.

              Before Ive got full of himself, many of the products pushed by Jobs had a rounded design theme — mostly fun and colorful: bulbous iMacs, clamshell notebooks, round puck mouses, original iPhone. Like most Apple products, the original iPods had nice generously rounded corners and felt pretty good in hand. That eroded away as Jobs stepped back from the micromanaging of designs. Ive started his extruded white plastic phase: all dongles and adapters and plugs, Airports, and Mac Mini were the same basic boring, non-ergonomic, with a sharp edge.

              The next step into bad design was when Jobs got sick and Ive went thin to an extreme. While this is undoubtedly hugely popular with the fashionista skinny jean crowd, it’s come at a cost.

              I seriously doubt Jobs was involved in the detail designs in the 2-3 years before his death – then Ive and the beancounters took over. Cook, the Compaq component outsourcing dude, is one of the primary leaders who has advocated disposable sealed products — because they are cheaper to design an produce. Glue takes almost no skill to assemble. Thinner didn’t mean better, it meant that it would feel okay in hand (for those who use the iPhone as a tool as opposed to pocket fashion) only after the buyer wrapped the thing in an overpriced protective case.

              Bad design at Apple has proliferated under the current management — don’t pin that on Jobs.

            3. @ applecynic:

              I recall the vanilla envelope. I also remember that Jobs insisted that the laptop be functional and comfortable to use. Today some people here claim it’s the only delightful laptop in the entire 2018 lineup.

              Remember, without Jobs there to push a dose of reality, Ive and Cook delivered a MacBook with a single USB-C port, which is one step above useless. The dynamic idiot duo has no one with a brain to check their excesses, so they have been carving away at “Pro” products as well, usability/versatility/durability be damned.

              I’m not here to deify Jobs, but Jobs did not push for thinness above all other product metrics.

            4. @Mike

              Hi Mike.
              But it still was an introduction of “thinness”, “smallness” as a design philosophy. Look at the iPad hiding behind a pencil ads. That’s all I’m saying. The design philosophy actually began under Jobs.

              I will give you as granted about other design metrics, but elimination of ports (Expresscard) also was under Jobs too, as was elimination of SD slot in iOS devices, lateness of USB3, beginnings of non-upgradability… These are indeed functional attributes.

          1. Never! 😉

            Did you notice the font weight was INCREASED an upgrade or two ago, hmmm? Not saying because of me, but enough people ranting sometimes lightning strikes and it does pay off.

            Fingers crossed lightning will strike again …

            1. iPhones have also gotten thicker the last few years. Someone here mentioned making iPhones a millimeter or two thicker. That is exactly what already happened. I feel like people don’t realize that from the comments I’m reading.

      2. It serves Apple’s arrogance. Apple has no intentions of satisfying users with longer battery life if the iPhone has to be made thicker. Apple is always trying to save on materials to increase profits. It’s hard to imagine Apple listening to users who would tell them to design a thicker iPhone to accommodate a larger battery. Apple believes it always knows best.

    1. Or.. use a 7nm chip which will reduce power consumption by 50% or so …..and keep the samd gorgeous thin design..

      Plus for those who dont care about the design thiness… there are quite a few battery cases for the X

  2. I agree with the headline, there is enough horse power in the current A processors. A decent refinement (non buggy) ios would be better improvement. My my SE iPhone 64GB, i love the flush flash light and head phone jack, didnt like the bulge camera housing of my iPhone 6S.

  3. More power would be okay. Thinner wouldn’t hurt. But all only if it has a better battery life. And I 100% agree with the sentiment that a mil thicker to allow for more battery would be *much* preferred. I’ve just gotten to work a bit ago, and now pulled my phone out of my pocket to check, and it is 74% – not sufficient to make it through the day. That drain was just in getting up, ready, and to work today. Plugging it in at my desk is the necessary next step. That shouldn’t be!

  4. I have owned every iPhone and have never experienced a complete discharge. When I leave my office it is 100% charged. On a typical day it does get below 50%.

    1. Sounds ridiculous and you probably don’t use it. Two hours ago I pulled the phone off the charger (100%) and have Safari, MDN App and e-mail running, just three programs and all notifications off. Using Wi-Fi the whole time I’m already down to 48% on my two year old SE …

        1. Are you suggesting that a user should compromise legibility for the sake of battery life?

          Despite Apple’s dream planning, a 2 year old battery shouldn’t conk out like Goeb’s after such moderate usage, no matter what the model number is. For the prices Apple demands, they could do a lot better delivering better real world battery performance for the usable life of the product, which should be more like 3-4 years for a phone instead of 2. With a battery refresh, Goeb should be able to pass on his old iPhone as a backup/travel phone or relegate it to iPod duty or whatever. Of course, that kind of product value would depend on Apple delivering a better designed battery system with easy battery replacement.

          1. Totally agree a 2 year-old battery shouldn’t “conk out” so quickly.

            I’ve taken two steps I hope will help. Turned down brightness below 50% and turned OFF the raise to turn on phone feature in Settings that lights up the screen dozens of times a day, just what I don’t need wasting power simply by moving it and NOT actively using it.

            “Battery refresh,” is a good idea since I am well beyond 500 recharge cycles and yes Apple, make it easy for the average consumer to DIY.

            One thing in the latest iOS update scares the living bejesus out of me the first couple of times it popped up on my locked home screen. Wonder if others experienced the same and were startled, as well.

            Sunday I was out in the garage putting luggage into my Jeep Renegade and maps pops up on the screen out of the blue? It showed me a route and time estimate to my next destination. How in world did it know I was about to travel 112 miles over two hours away on country roads to that particular destination on that particular day? Also, when I go to visit my father two miles away the same out of the blue map and directions pops up. WTH(hell)?

            Talk about Apple as big brother! I did not ask or endorse this service and the big question is how many other apps are working constantly in the background without my knowledge tracking me and wasting power?!?

            It’s enough to make me delete Apple Maps forever from my phone, but I know that is not possible at present. Damn …

            1. I was less than a mile from my home yesterday picking up an awesome homemade Italian pizza pie. I get in my Renegade, turn it on and Apple Maps shows up on the dark lock screen saying I am 0.7 miles from my home and a driving route.

              This is big brother Apple SCARY! This happened automatically with the new update, I did not request it and HATE Apple Maps, prefer Bing and Google.

              Just went into Maps Settings and turned EVERYTHING OFF. If that does not work, I will be on the horn filing an Apple complaint.

              This big brother attitude treating users like children and idiots is the liberal way (sorry) and I want no part of it. First, I know how to get home. Second, when I need a route to a destination i’ll punch it in Google Maps. I hold my nose, but the results are always better than Apple Maps. Why they waste resources on this in the first place boggles the mind.

              I’d prefer Apple updates ALL MACS EVERY YEAR LIKE THE FSCKING IPHONE!!! 😡

  5. I don’t mind the quest for thinness in phones.

    But give it up in desktops.

    Also, I just bought a new Touch Bar 15″ MBP. That thing really, really needs at least one standard USB port, and an SD slot. I’d definitely give up a millimeter or two for that!

    Also the trackpad is a bit wonky, right-clicking doesn’t quite work right in all situations. If I use an Apple Magic Mouse with the laptop, everything works perfectly, if I use the trackpad, it is very futzy.

    1. Thinness has reached the point of negative return on investment for iPhones. You simply need enough volume for a usable battery, and Apple has always been too cheap there. That is precisely why the SE continues to use the antiquated thick brick design, whereas larger screen models got squished by Ive. Because they can.

      The people who claim they don’t need more battery life are the wall huggers who are satisfied charging their phones at least once per day, or the people who don’t use most iPhone features. Apple continues to shoot themselves in the foot by advertising all the exciting things the iPhone can do, but failing to explain that actually doing so will burn down your battery in less than a day. Then Apple doubles down on the stupidity by having its control panel not actually turn off the accessory radios, but only temporarily pausing them until the next day, upon which Apple wants to start tracking you again. Not cool.

      On the Mac: well said!

    2. Good luck trying to get used to the crap keyboard on the current generation MBP’s.

      The Dell that they bought me at work is materially better; I’m very tempted to get rid of my 2017 MBP for a MBA … that is, if Apple ever bothers to update the MBA (except for its old, superior keyboard).

      Someone ought to make Ive touch-type on one of these things, blindfolded, with an electro-shock belt on him for each missed keystroke he makes…

  6. From the “just asking” file: “What’d be wrong with slightly thicker iPhone with more battery life and a flush camera assembly?”

    If Apple would go back to the bumpers, instead of cases that cover the back (which need no protection) the extra thickness wouldn’t even cost us anything. We’d have flush cameras and bigger batteries, with drop protection, which is all we need.

  7. “I would add a little to its thickness — not much, maybe a millimeter or two”
    Spoken like a true know-nothing try-hard. So, he would either go back and make all the other components thicker, or add risers between components, (because you can’t add thickness and it fill it with SOMETHING) OR have a case with bulges on the inside that accounts for that thickness in the area that doesn’t have a battery ORRR spend who knows how many dollars trying to design a battery fill all the open space, be structurally sound AND provide enough additional capacity to be worth the effort.

    Never thought about it from this perspective before, but they know how much space all the components are going to take well before they make the phone. So, It really just comes down to, “this is how much space we have available to put a battery in, can we run all of these components off of this much battery for 10 hours.”

    1. “Spoken like a true know-nothing try-hard”

      You know, this is the worst attitude. You just took an objective discussion and made it personal. In the process you outed yourself as a complete _____. Well, no, I don’t feel the need to follow your model.

      Anyone in electronics design knows very well what the tradeoffs are. Apple has more than ample resources to change any design any time they want to do so. Apple simply doesn’t care, it’s not in their DNA to care about customer requests. Only profits matter, and iOS is sticky enough that even with compromised products their users aren’t jumping ship. (Macs, that’s another story!)

      With only a couple rare exceptions, Apple has literally chosen to degrade device performance instead of putting in a larger powerful battery in newer model phones and laptops. There is ample evidence showing that Apple has spent not millions, but billions of dollars making its latest devices thinner. The people that want thinner are outnumbered by 10:1 or more by people who would rather have another 3 hours of battery life between charges, but again, Apple doesn’t care.

      It is a very reasonable proposal to add back a couple mm or a curved back in the next product cycle in order to restore durability, battery capacity, etc. Apple does not have any exclusive battery chemistry and they are so stingy on unit cost that it is unlikely that actual real-world device battery life can be enhanced in the future without adding volume.

      Then again, maybe Ive will just add more notches to distract from the fact that battery life is so poor when really using the device.

  8. Design…

    Jobs originally didn’t want to do the iPhone as he hated needing to deal with the phone executives (he called them ‘orifices’ ).

    Ive and a few others set up a team to do phone designs on the side.

    Eventually Jobs came around. (As Cook stated Jobs could turn completely around, like after saying ‘PC Wars over’ in 1996 he went gangbusters on Mac )

    Then in a twist Jobs REJECTS Ive’s designs as ‘wrong’, there was too much emphasis on the frame rather than the screen. Years later Ive admitted Jobs was right.
    Ive also recounted that he and Jobs (his best pal ) could get into heated arguments where he would storm out.
    (BTW: I don’t think anybody argues with Ive today at Apple… )

    Jobs pushed the team relentlessly:

    “”[Those years] were brutal,” says Merchant. They were really stressful times and people were working around the clock, sometimes sleeping in this so-called purple dorm. Dirty laundry was piling up, trash was piling up. It stunk.”

    Ive redid the phone and the result we saw on stage in 2007.

    Without Ive they might not have convinced Jobs to do a phone, without Jobs the phone might have looked and functioned very differently and would have taken way longer.

  9. I have emailed Tim Cook about this. Phone do not need to be thinner, they need better battery life. If everyone here emailed Cook t=Apple might get the message. Does he read all the emails? Of course not, but somebody does and keeps a count in order to report a summary.

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