Thin to win?

I am on the record1 in favor of sacrificing any further thickness reductions of the iPhone and instead using reclaimed space to increase battery capacity.  I am not alone.  If, in fact, the upcoming iPhone increases the height of the device by 7.5%,2 while maintaining the same width of the iPhone 4/4S, one would wager that Apple could increase battery life by 7.5% simply by maintaining the depth at its already-respectable 9.3 mm and proportionally increasing the size of the battery.  If Apple applied the innovations that increased the iPad 3 battery capacity by 68% without appreciably changing the physical size of the battery to the new iPhone, it theoretically could have increased battery life by up to 73%.3

Instead, Apple is reducing the depth to 7.8 mm, which reduces the volume by 9.8%.  The physical battery size is almost certainly decreasing proportionally, so all of those new technologies result in essentially a net zero impact on battery capacity, increasing from 1430 mAh to 1440 mAh.

This means that Apple faced a choice over what to deliver – more battery life or thinner dimensions.4  Battery capacity is not sexy – it’s a practical decision.  But it’s what people want, even if they don’t know it.  Thinness is what you need to counter a Samsung commercial.

This is a spec war decision, which is unlike Apple.

  1. Not the interwebs record – just my real-life record.
  2.  iPhone 4/4S 115.2 mm tall, while leaked parts suggest that the new iPhone will be 123.63 mm tall.  Math is left to the reader.
  3. I obviously have no idea if there are other technical limitations that would lower this number, such as heat dissipation, but I feel pretty confident saying that battery life would have increased significantly enough to be a highlight of the presentation.
  4. I realize weight would also be affected, but extrapolated out, a 7.5% increase is only 10 grams.

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