On iPhone Thinness

Over the past nine years, Apple has established a predictable release cycle for the iPhone. Every second year they release an iPhone with a new hardware design. Every alternating year they release an ’S’ upgrade with improvements to the core technology and a couple new features. It’s pretty much a given this Fall, Apple will release a new iPhone with somewhat redesigned hardware.

Almost every time Apple redesigns the iPhone – they make it thinner – often by removing ports and making it more power efficient (thus able to run off of a smaller battery).



And every time, people complain (and still end up buying it).

‘I don’t want a thinner iPhone.’

‘I like the current thickness.’

‘Instead of making it thinner, put a bigger battery inside.’

These are some of the common complaints. While I can see the reason behind these comments, I truthfully believe these people don’t actually know what they want.

As is so often done, I’m going to quote Henry Ford. I know most of you already know the quote I’m about to insert, but I’m going to do it anyways:

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” – Henry Ford

If this is true, and people don’t know what they want, who does?

Well, Apple tries to guess. That’s their job as a seller of a product. They create things they think people will want. And ultimately, they don’t know if they will. What they do know is that technology products are like a shark, as in, if they don’t keep moving, they will sink and (eventually) die.

Let’s imagine a scenario where Apple listens to this group and makes the next iPhone the same width, or even a little thicker. Predictably, the battery life would be fantastic.

’True all-day battery life’ – the iPhone commercials would say.

‘Finally’ – the group of users would say exhaustedly.

This would be terrible for two reasons:

1.) If Apple determined that the right course of iPhone innovation is not to make it thinner, but instead to keep it the same width, they could conceivably keep this approach for the iPhone 8, and so on. While this may not seem like the worst thing, imagine if TV manufacturers had decided that a shallower tube television was ‘thin enough.’

The plasma TV hanging on your wall wouldn’t exist.

2.) Innovating in battery technology is not just making the battery bigger. It has been well-documented that battery innovation has become stagnant. Making batteries more efficient and providing more ways to keep them charged is forward progress in portable power.

I’m not against the current size of the iPhone, nor do I think it’s too thick or too thin. I believe that in order for innovation to push forward, changes have to happen and in doing so force other changes to occur.

Apple will continue to make all their devices thinner with each iteration, battery technology will continue to improve, and eventually we will own a device we could’ve never imagined 10 years prior. That’s what a technology company is supposed to do – innovate. That’s why so many of us love Apple and their products, because they aren’t afraid to make sacrifices to bring the future to life.

PS: Don’t get me started on the headphone jack, or lack there of (I’m fine with if there isn’t one in the next iPhone).