Why is thinness still a highly desired phone feature?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: June 6, 2014

 

Every time a new generation of phones come out, something about it is at least slightly different than the previous generation. Typically today, you’ll see A.) a material change B.) a size increase and C.) a flatter, thinner slab. A material change is understandable, you don’t want things to get too stale; size increase seems to be reaching its limit, especially now that there is a 7-inch “phone” on the market; but when it comes to the thinness of a device, I just can’t seem to wrap my head around why that’s an important feature to have at all.

 

Perhaps I’m a little biased. I like hefty phones - you know, something that doesn’t feel like it’s going to shatter into a million pieces if it accidentally drops and hits the ground. But I like it for more than that, too. You see, when a phone has a little more heft to it, it usually means that it has a little more battery as well, and we all know that smartphones will probably never truly have enough battery power. It’s not often that you come across hefty phones these days, though. Rather, many companies are proudly boasting just how thin their phones are. What exactly am I supposed to do with that knowledge?

 

I get it. Thin is pretty, it’s kind of wonderous how it even manages to turn on with so little space to work with.

 

How do they get all of that technology in that tiny sliver of a phone? It’s a miracle!

This phone is so thin that I can slide it between the crack between the door and the floor!

I can slip this phone in a stack of paper and nobody would know any the wiser!

I can’t even see my phone, it’s so thin!

 

But really, what real benefit does having a thin phone have? The only benefit I can think of off of the top of my head is that because phones are getting so ridiculously big, adding any sort of thickness to it would truly make it a hard item to carry for a lot of people. I don’t consider pocketability to be a problem because I don’t think I’ve ever had a problem fitting a phone into my pocket because of how thick it was, but I have had issues because of how long or wide it was. Treating a phone like cookie dough and flattening it out with a rolling pin just doesn’t seem like a really good “feature” to be boasting about. You could have a lot more going on in the phone if you left a little thickness in there, but yeah, I suppose making the phone thin for cosmetic purposes is good enough.

 

The end result is that while a thin phone might look pretty, it’s simply not as practical or durable as a thicker phone would have been. Even if you went with the argument that a large phone is easier to carry when thin, thin phones probably slip out of your hand just as easily simply because of that fact. It just feels like there comes a point where phones (and tablets, for that matter) can feel too light, and therefore kind of cheap. Like the iPad Air? The whole selling point of the iPad Air was that it was supposed to be so lightweight. And then you have the Amazon Kindle Fire tablets, which I remember spotting a couple of ads trying to sell the tablet to me stating that it was even lighter than the iPad Air - as if that would make me go, “Oh, wow, really? It’s lighter? That’s exactly what I was looking for in a tablet!” Because functionality and user experience comes way later.

 

I feel like I can’t be alone in my thoughts here. I do get a little wary of phones and tablets when one of the first things they mention is how thin it is, because that’s one of the least important factors there are. It’s like they’re trying to compensate for all of the cool things they didn’t include in the name of thinness, and I’m not buying into that.

 

Image via Hit Tech Review

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