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Hey Apple, thinner is not always better

Apple may focus on making its devices even thinner in the coming years, but it seems like a solution looking for a problem.

Published onJune 25, 2024

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max 1
iPhone 15 Pro Max

Apple just launched the thinnest iPad ever, and if reports are to be believed, this is just the start. The tech giant may focus on making the next iPhones, MacBook Pros, and Apple Watches significantly thinner over the coming two years. It wouldn’t be the first time that a manufacturer has become obsessed with device dimensions, but do we really need the thinnest iPhone ever?

You can insert your own innuendo, but thinner is not always better. Unless you have the clingiest of sartorial tastes, the iPhone 15 already fits easily into your pocket or purse. Does it need to be thinner to fit somewhere else? With your phone largely making your wallet redundant, we don’t need it to be as thin and light as a credit card.

And there’s something to be said for a more meaty device. If nothing else, a sleek but solid phone with a hefty feel can give you the instinctive impression you’re getting your money’s worth. It feels expensive and powerful when you know it’s packed with Apple tech. Arguing over a few millimeters can also be a moot point for many people. Only the most careful or carefree among us don’t put a protective case on a device we’ve just spent $1,000 on.

If I had space for your last iPhone, I have space for your next one.

It’s not just iPhones, though, as Apple plans on slimming down other devices as well. Perhaps you can argue that a thinner MacBook Pro makes sense, although it’s a delicate enough device as it is. But a thinner Apple Watch? Unless you’re a cave diver, it really doesn’t seem like a priority to shink your wristwear. Besides, how will all your friends be impressed by it if it slips neatly up your sleeve and out of sight?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s an impressive feat of engineering that the boffins at Apple can shink these devices ever further. It’s not like there was a ton of empty space in there and they just needed to rearrange it like Tetris. It’s mainly improvements in technology that make this compacting possible. But the next marketing campaign will boast that the phone is now thinner while maintaining the same specs. Well, Apple, if I had space for your last iPhone, I have space for your next one. What I want is better specs.

google pixel 8 vs iphone 15 ports
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

We’ve just alluded to one of the reasons why Apple might give us solutions we didn’t know we needed, which is marketing. Making the “thinnest iPhone ever” will get the tech world talking. It will make for a flashy slogan while Craig Federighi jumps a shark at the next Apple live-streamed event. It catches the eye more than improvements to things like the battery, for example.

What impresses us and what’s practical are often two different things. Making an expensive repair to the air-con in your house is objectively less exciting than upgrading to an 85-inch smart TV, but one will certainly be more useful when summer comes around. Similarly, lots of us would benefit more from longer phone battery life than a thinner phone.

A thinner phone does serve one purpose, even if it isn’t a practical one. Apple products have always been a status symbol to an extent. Some owners want their friends to say, “Wow! Is that the new iPhone? It’s so thin!” No one is going to comment on how marginally improved your phone’s battery life is over after-work drinks.

Would you prefer a thinner design or better specs, such as a bigger battery?

257 votes

The other thing that irks me about this is that when Apple decides what our priorities are, that becomes the narrative across the whole industry. The thinnest iPhone ever will make Android companies feel compelled to follow suit, and we’ll have another multi-year round of race-to-the-thinnest that overshadows any other problems that might need addressing.

It also alludes to a disappointing lack of imagination on Apple’s part. It suggests that the well of ideas has run dry, with no innovation left to surprise the consumers or make our lives easier. You can do better, Apple.

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