While we were still in the era of feature phones where the concept of smartphones was still alien to most people, the race for the thinnest phone was already there. Fast forward a few years, feature phones are now dying but the race is still going on as people still care about it. So the focus of today’s article is the worthiness of this slimming game. Will this race bring the smartphone world forward or is it just meaningless?
Years ago, Apple was leading the game for some time but the reigning champion for the world’s thinnest phone you can buy now belongs to the OPPO R5. At only 4.85mm thick, the OPPO R5 is way thinner than the new iPhone 6 which has a thickness of 6.9mm. Do bear in mind that 6.9mm is already very thin but 4.85mm is really mind-blowing. Not to be outdone, Vivo has teased a phone that claims to have half the thickness of an iPhone 5/5s (7.6mm), making it around 3.8mm thick. Although it is not officially launched, the idea indeed sounds crazy enough.
[Update] Vivo had announced the 4.75mm thick Vivo V5 Max, which is thinner than the OPPO R5.
Naturally, the razor thin chassis looks great aesthetically. Your friends will definitely be amazed when you show them that their phones are almost twice as thick as yours. Its lightweight property comes along naturally as the extra material is cut down. The slim profile also helps it to fit in your hand better and as the screen size is growing endlessly nowadays, reducing one dimension while the others are growing will help us get a better grip on it. It will fit easily to the pocket too.
However, the thin design usually comes at some cost(does not include dieting). To fit in all the components in such a compact body, the engineers have to move lots of things around. Sometimes, moving things away are necessary too. But, the processing chipset, memory unit, power control and other items are compulsory and the sizes of these components are fixed. Typically, these components will take up half of the space in the phone. The rest of the space is occupied by the battery. So it is a no brainer to cut down the size of the battery instead. Which is why most of the time, the battery capacity will be sacrificed. While this is acceptable for light users, heavy users are not okay with this.
There are also components that are too thick to fit in the body, like the camera module. So it is quite common for us to see protruding camera in smartphones now like the new iPhone. While typically the camera is protected by a tough material like sapphire glass, it is still more prone to external damage. If the camera is placed in one of the top corners, there are great chances that the device will wobble when you try to use it on a table.
Sometimes, some features need to be removed. For example, OPPO decided to omit the 3.5mm audio jack in the R5. As the audio jack has about the same thickness with the phone, including it means that another protrusion will be required. For your normal headphones to work, OPPO has included a proprietary cable in the box so that you can connect your headphones via micro USB port. However, this means that you will not have access to it while charging your phone. This might be a deal breaker for music lovers.
The thinness of the device will also affect the durability. The infamous Bend Gate on iPhone 6 Plus is the great example. While the Bend Gate is actually over-exaggerating of the problem and the iPhone 6 Plus will not bend under normal scenario, the phone is really not as tough as we think. When a material like aluminium is stretched to a large surface with minimum thickness, it will be soft and thus the device can be bent easier than it should. If Apple has made the chassis a little thicker or to add a frame inside the aluminium body, the problem can be avoided.
So it seems that the price you have to pay for a thin smartphone is quite steep, isn’t it? At least we do have some accessories to ease the situation. Being very thin means your device will not be too bulky even after you add a case to it, which will be done by most people to provide the much needed protection. As for power issues, power banks are getting cheaper so it will help to provide you some juice for your device.
Choosing the right device to buy is about finding the balance between your need and what the device can offer. For some who value form over function, they will go all in for the thinnest smartphone and live happily with it. For those who are hard core users and do not mind a little extra bulk, they will opt against it.
For all these companies which are in the thinness race, crafting the slimmest smartphone will help them to attract some spotlight among the media while meeting the need of a certain group of customers. Even though they will not retain the throne for a long time, being in the headlines is great for the brand in the long run. So they will be more than happy to give it a try. The competition will benefit us too, soonw or later. As the market leaders are fighting for the extreme measurement, the competition will bring down the average thickness in the future and we will be enjoying it.
So what do you think? Will you prioritize the thinness when you make your choice in choosing the device to buy? Or you are the one who values function more? Let us know what you think!