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Why the obsession with thin phones? I’d gladly take a thicker iPhone in the name of battery life


It seems all the major companies are touting the thinness of their new phones.  From the upcoming HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 to the already released iPhone 5, bragging about how thin these phones are has been a big focus of their marketing and was an oft mentioned selling point of these phones at their unveiling announcements.   Most of the major phone companies seem to believe that customers want phones that are super light and thin.  The race is on to make the thinnest, lightest phone on the market, and its causing phone manufacturers to ignore the last glaring weakness of smart phones – battery life.

Am I the only one who would happily see this silly race for the thinnest phone end in exchange for phones with larger batteries and longer lasting power?

Bragging about phone thinness has become a common theme for manufacturers like Apple.

Bragging about phone thinness has become a common theme for manufacturers like Apple.

Battery Life – A Common Smart Phone Frustration

I love owning a smart phone.  I would never voluntarily go back to my days of owning a “dumb” phone.  I’m thrilled with the idea of having news updates, my email, and all the seemingly limitless resources on the internet available to me in my pocket at any time.   I can’t even count the number of times my smart phone has helped me find directions in a pinch, look up a fact to settle an argument, or allowed me to look up an important piece of information on the internet quickly at work.

There is one aspect of a basic phone that I do miss, however.  I miss not having to worry about battery life.  Battery life is a constant worry for me when I’m on my smart phone.

When I use the GPS of my smartphone for driving, I worry about how quickly my phone drains down, and wonder if I will be left without a charge when I need to use my phone to make an important call later.  Battery longevity worries keep me from fully utilizing my phone in some situations.  I often refrain from playing a game or watching a video clip when my charge is lower to save on battery life.  I regularly catch myself calculating if I will make it through the day without needing to do a quick charge somewhere and leaving it in my pocket rather than using it if my charge begins to dwindle.  Sometimes I lug around an extra charging cable or two just to make sure I make it through the day.

As a heavy smartphone user, at least once a week I catch myself with a dead or dying phone battery when I have really needed to use my phone.


Thinness – Not Worth the Loss of Battery Life

What I never have worried about is whether or not my phone is thinner than the phones of my friends.  I’ve never been fatigued by holding my phone because it is too heavy.  I have never caught myself wishing my smart phone were just a few millimeters smaller so that the phone isn’t quite as tight in my pocket.

It seems that phone manufacturers are needlessly expending so much time and effort chasing the goal of of a super thin phone, when this feature really doesn’t have much to do with the customer’s overall satisfaction with the phone.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the feel of a sleek and thin phone in my hand, but what I want even more is a phone that lasts.

Can I really be the only one who would gladly sacrifice some thinness in the name of outstanding battery life?  Judging by the  number of extended batteries available on sites like Ebay and Amazon and the complaints heard from fellow smartphone owning friends, I know there are others who have similar thoughts about battery life to my own.


Give Me a Chunkier Phone

I would gladly take a thicker iPhone that easily powers through a couple of days of heavy use, verses the current thin and light iPhone 5 (or insert the name of any of the other thin flagship phones here) that struggles to make it through just one day if it is used heavily.

I’d rather have a thick smartphone than a beautiful, thin piece of hardware that becomes as useful as a pretty paperweight when it runs out of charge before I reach the end of my day.  I’d gladly accept a chunkier phone in exchange for being able to cast off any worries about whether or not my battery will make it through the day.  I’d be thrilled to use my phone in any way and as often as I please throughout the day without worrying that the way I am using it may cause me to have to run for an outlet later on in the day.

Yes, I know that Motorola has given the concept of a thicker phone and longer battery life a try in the Razr Maxx and Razr Maxx HD phones. However, while both of these phones are nice phones and do have a slightly longer battery life, I wouldn’t classify either of these phones as the top smartphones I have ever used or as company flagship devices.  It’s time the latest, greatest flagship phones offer the latest and greatest battery life.

A Phone Size Culture Change

It’s also time we as customers stop putting up a fuss when devices are released that are larger or chunkier than their predecessors.  While the iPad is a tablet and not a phone, I still remember all the fuss that was put up over the fact the 3rd generation Retina iPad was a bit thicker and heavier than the iPad 2.  I think reactions like this by product reviewers and the public has companies thinking they need to keep pushing thinness to keep people happy.

I would argue that, whether you purchase a Windows Phone, Android Phone, or iPhone, all of these phones and their operating systems have matured to the point where they all provide a solid user experience.  The speed of all the latest phones is really an overkill, and the difference between the fastest phones and the next tier is literally split seconds of loading time.  The quality of screens is also quite similar for top of the line phones as almost all of the major phone releases now sport screens with pixels that are all but invisible.

The last area where smart phones still are universally disappointing is in battery longevity.   Motorola seems to be the only company that seems to recognize the potential market for phones that prize battery life over thinness and lightness.  It’s time phone manufacturers stop the ridiculous race to be the thinnest and fastest phone and instead focus on the last great challenge and frustration of smart phones – battery life.  If this comes at the expense of thinner phones, I’m alright with that.

I’ll take a chunkier iPhone.  Who’s with me?



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  • dyoungprod

    Based on the size of the cases put on their phones (ahem, Otterbox), I don’t think people care about thickness!

  • gogoboy

    Apple iPhone5 battery life actually work-out pretty good compare to all Samsung lines and most of the Android phones. I personally don’t own an iPhone but my colleagues and family members did. Pretty embarrassed when hang out all day with your phone battery drained out while iphone owners still have a least half of origin charged..Beside if you prefer chunky long battery life iPhone, you always could buy a battery case for iPhone that would double the juice.