Why the iPhone doesn't have a thicker, bigger battery
It then follows, under that train of thought, that Apple is deliberately sacrificing longevity for cosmetics. That the company is putting an obsession for thinness over usability. I used to wonder about that myself. Then I had the chance to speak to some people in the industry and discovered that batteries and battery life are, well... complicated. Here's the case for the thicker, longer-lasting iPhone as most recently made by Christopher Mims of the Wall Street Journal:
It sounds great in theory, but if you take an iPhone 6 as thick as the iPhone 4 and start to imagine how heavy it would be, you can start to see where it breaks down.
Apple was deliberate when they pointed out the iPhone 6 was actually lighter than the iPhone 4. They did that because, while thinness is nice and certainly improves the feel of the phone in both the hand and the pocket, it's lightness that matters. Lightness improves usability.
Battery life is the currency of mobile devices. Every feature you add, you pay for in battery life. That includes screens, radios, and it includes lightness. If a company like Apple is willing to pay that price, it shows how important it is to them — or how important they believe it to be for their customers.
A thicker, heavier phone starts to become a drawback when you try to hold it up for prolonged periods of time. It causes fatigue and eventually prevents you from using it, charged or not, for as long as you'd really like to.
An iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus with the same thickness as an iPhone 4 would be too heavy for many people to read iBooks or watch movies for long periods of time, for example, while in bed or while on a flight. It would also be harder to balance and use one handed while walking around.
It's the same reason Apple's been striving to make the iPad ever thinner — to make it ever lighter and more usable.
Also, batteries don't just hold in power — they hold in heat. They're insulators. Batteries are part of the reason why processor speeds need to be capped and ramped down over time. They're also not RF transparent, so they can affect how Wi-Fi and cellular radios work as well.
With Apple's current generation of thin-as-in-light phones, you can add a thicker, heavier battery case for those times when you want or need extra power. If Apple made a thick-as-in-heavy phone, you couldn't tear half of it off for the times when you really didn't need the extra boost.
This way, usability is the standard and bulk is the option, not bulk as the standard at the expense of usability.
If you occasionally start running low on battery, you can still charge your iPhone and keep using it. If it's constantly awkward or uncomfortable to hold, or too bulky for your pockets, there's nothing you can do. It's a brick.
John Gruber of Daring Fireball made a great observation:
The change in laptops happened when Apple redesigned them to be, essentially, giant battery packs, and Intel made x86 more power-efficient with chipsets like Haswell. iOS devices are already giant battery packs and ARM is already power efficient. That means, absent breakthroughs in battery chemistry, we might not get as dramatic an increase, but we'll get steady increases.
Chipsets and the processes used to fabricate them will improve, screen technology will evolve, and radios will get more efficient. Add even better race-to-sleep and other power-management techniques and, over time, Apple will end up with a light, usable phone that also has extended battery life.
The iPhone 6 Plus, with its day-and-a-half of charge capacity, shows that strategy already at work.
10:00am, February 24: Updated to better explain the trade-off between battery-life and bulk.
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.
Funny thing is in this instance Apple got neither form nor function correct.
I really hope that was just a joke. Comments like this make you look like a fan boy :)
Like the other guy mentioned. I just want it thick enough so the phone lies flat and not on the camera.
Yes there are battery cases, but they're VERY bulky and a huge tradeoff, for many the current battery life is borderline satisfactory (just about good enough not to rely on a battery case, but also sort of too short to trust your battery lasts throughout the day, every day) and an additional 2 maybe 2.5 hours would eliminate those worries once and for all. I do get that Apple's focus on thinness is more of a usability decision than mere aesthetics, but I also think that some usability considerations need to be prioritised over others.
At the weight of an iPhone 4?
The difference being almost 1/2 of an ounce.
I don't recall ever feeling fatigued using my iPhone 4.
I just can not agree with the premise of this article.
Certainly not scientific, but a clear indication many people either don't agree with your points in your article.
I would prefer a phone slightly "thicker", slightly smaller, and slightly heavier... Especially if I could get a few extra hours of battery life AND not have the lens protrude from the back of the phone.
I currently use an iPhone 6 as my daily driver. Sent from the iMore App
I know holding them side by side the weight difference feels significant, and being totally honest, the newer iPhones do feel better in the hand by weight alone.
It seems like there are a significant number of complaints about iPhone battery life that suggest people would at least like that aspect to be addressed (though that doesn't necessarily mean a thicker iPhone would address that as opposed to software advancements and limiting push and etc).
The new iPhones are certainly svelt and light but, for me, they feel too thin and slippery in the hand, perhaps combination of a number of changes. I somehow think a slightly thicker, more ergonomic iPhone wouldn't be a step backwards for Apple (not to say we could know for certain that battery life would be significantly affected.)
I just don't see, if it were to become slightly thicker and heavier, it would be such a hindrance that consumers chose another phone based on those points.
But I've been wrong before :)
Hmm.. not sure I've seen this one. Now the opposite sentiment however, is on every phones' forums. except maybe the droid maxx.
a long meeting day. Otherwise, run with just iPhone battery, go from 06:45 to 11:00 each day and still have about 30-40% battery left.
"An iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus with the same thickness as an iPhone 4 would be too heavy for many people to read iBooks or watch movies for long periods of time in bed," Why would an iphone 6 or 6+ be on par with the thickness of an iphone 4 be too heavy.... an ipad mini is far heavier yet i don't hear anyone complaining reading books/watching movies. Less fatigue is that the new selling point of phones now?
If apple wanted it lighter they could have "unapologetically" made it out of plastic For a phone that has a "non removable" battery, battery life is absolutely paramount. The apple marketing machine really is "THAT GOOD" Who doesn't add a case to their phone, making it heavier and thicker... NEXT!!!!
Plus I think itll add more durability to the device to begin with. Motorola has beautiful devices that grow thicker towards the middle yet are still thin devices with great battery life. Posted via the iMore App for Android
Lmao! Sent from the iMore App
It is also too light and slippery, and a little more weight would require just the right ammount of force in the hand so it would not feel like soap. Its time to admit Apple made bad design choices here.
C'mon Rene, put up a poll already. See what the masses want. Don't hypothesize on what you feel is needed or speak for the masses. Posted via the iMore App for Android