It should come as no surprise, smartphones are getting thinner. Just when you thought they couldn’t get any skinnier, manufacturers will shave a millimeter or two off their next device, just so they can claim the title of having the “thinnest phone on the market” — even if they don’t. Some manufacturers make their claims when measuring the thinnest part of the phone, but conveniently leave out the fact that the “camera hump” doubles or even triples the thickness. That doesn’t count, does it?
Thin phones don’t feel good
I’m through with it! Thin phones seem more fragile than “thicker” models. They’re not as easy to carry, they’re not as durable when you stick them in a pocket. They have more flex to them.
Pick up a phone that touts its “thinness” as a feature, then pick up another phone that didn’t put millimeters before user experience. Which one feels better in your hand? It’s a very personal opinion, for sure, but in my experience, the thinner phones feel awkward, even clumsy. Thicker phones fill your hand. They give them impression that they’re designed for you, rather than designed for a line on a spec-sheet.
Thin phones feel cheap
Thin is usually synonymous with light-weight. “Quality” usually comes with some level of “heaft” to it. A lawnmower that’s lightweight, for example, is probably made mostly out of plastic, has a low-power engine, and probably isn’t going to last as long as one that’s made of metal, and has a larger, more power engine, and is more durable. As a consumer, you don’t have to know why one lawnmower is lighter than the other, you just know by the feel that one is cheaper than the other (notice I said “cheaper” rather than “less expensive”). The analogy doesn’t translate 1:1 to smartphones, but the feeling of quality does.
Thin phones make sacrifices
I’m an advocate of lightening one’s load. No one wants to lug around a heavy beast of a device all day, every day, right? Ounces turn into pounds, and pounds turn into pain. I get that. But there comes a point when something is too light. My Nexus 4, for example, is a great phone — as long as I say close to a charger. Most of the time I do. When I’m on the road or attending a training session or City Council Meeting, my battery just isn’t enough to get me through. When I think I’ll need extra juice, I carry around a battery that I can plug into my phone to give me the extra power I need when I need it. These are of vital importance if you play Ingress, by the way.
Saving a few millimeters in thickness typically means going with a smaller battery inside the phone. Going with a smaller battery means it doesn’t last as long as it could have if that sacrifice hadn’t been made (a good example here is the Motorola RAZR versus the RAZR MAXX). Those few millimeters of thickness means I’ve got to carry around a big, bulky battery and USB cable whenever I think I might need more juice.
Who cares about thin?
I don’t know if I’m alone in my thoughts, but I think I’ve made some fairly compelling arguments why “thin” for the sake of being thin may not be in your best interests. Not long ago, Michael Fisher asked “When is a smartphone too thin?” and makes some of the same conclusions that I have.
Personally, I don’t want a “skinny phone”! Give me a phone with some meat on its bones!
Of course I want to hear from you, too! Am I alone in thinking too much emphasis is being placed on “thinness”? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!