People want thicker smartphones with bigger batteries; Apple doesn't

— 12:52 PM on March 6, 2015

A lot of TR readers have lamented the drive toward slimmer devices that sacrifice battery life to shave a few millimeters. As it turns out, they're not alone. According to a poll conducted by HuffPost and YouGov, the vast majority of Americans would take a thicker handset with longer battery life over a thinner one with a shorter run time.

The initial survey covered 1000 American adults, only 56% of whom actually have a smartphone. Among that subset, 73% would choose a beefier device with a bigger battery. And 93% of respondents in a separate poll currently running on HuffPost's site would make the same choice. The sample size and scope for the online poll aren't provided, but the overall sentiment seems pretty clear.

Don't expect thicker iPhones anytime soon, though. In an interview with Financial Times, Apple design guru Jony Ive said larger devices with bigger batteries would be less "compelling." Here's the relevant snippet, which stems from a discussion of the Apple Watch:

This seriousness begins with the design of the products. “Even now, when the design of the Apple Watch is incredibly mature and has gone through thousands and thousands of hours of evaluation and testing, we’re still working and improving. You are trying to keep everything fluid for as long as possible because everything is so interconnected. The best products are those where you have optimised each attribute while being very conscious of other parts of the product’s performance.” (Talking of performance, when the issue of the frequent need to recharge the iPhone is raised, he answers that it’s because it’s so light and thin that we use it so much and therefore deplete the battery. With a bigger battery it would be heavier, more cumbersome, less “compelling”.)

You know what would be really compelling? A smartphone capable of making it through a full day of constant, heavy use. That would be practically magical.

Apple isn't the only offender, of course. All the major smartphone makers seem to be past the point of diminishing returns on the dieting front, in part because they tend to follow Cupertino's lead. Let's hope they start paying attention to the public's apparent preferences, instead.

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