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Does mobile phone need to continuously slim down to less than 4mm?

by Frank Tu 2

In the Smartphone era, consumers’ concerns are not only limited to the processor, memory, resolution and other configurations, but rather mostly care about the thickness of the phone body. The reason is that, with the development of the technology, the appearance of Smartphones almost have identical straight shape. Different brands can barely be distinguished from each other through the phone appearance.  Hence the mobile phone manufacturers work hard on the body thickness.  After all, becoming the world’s N°1 Slimmest mobile phone carries out a win-win solution that not only draws consumers’ attention to remember their own brand, but also increased the distinction level.


At the end of October 2014, OPPO released 2 models of supper Smartphone N3 and R5, which OPPO R5’s 4.85 mm ultra slim body broke the continuous record of Gionee ELIFE Series as the World’s thinnest Smartphone. Therefore, OPPO R5 officially leads Smartphone entering into 4mm era. Consequently this has triggered the discussion around the topic of phone thickness. Some people think the thinner phone is easier to carry while others worry that the slimness makes the phone more fragile. So being “ultra-slim” becomes a hot topic again in the mobile forums.


In fact, being ultra slim as a trend of Smartphone drives technology development and users’ needs take a big part of it. Without consumers support, manufacturers would not take the phone thickness as a vital factor in the market competition. In today’s mobile phone industry, most of the consumers still value more on the thickness, so the manufacturers are highly motivated in trying hard to become the “World N°1 Slimmest” Smartphone. However, at the time of R5 bringing us into the 4mm era, many people wonder if Smartphone will continue to slim down?

Last month at the OPPO new product launch, he has recalled the evolution history about ultra-slim mobile. At the earlier time in China when the mobile phone started to be introduced into the market, “Brick Phone” was the mobile communication terminal; its bulky body was impressive and inconvenient to carry with. So slimming down the thickness became an inevitable mission and development focus for the manufacturers back then. Certainly there are many ways to make phones smaller, besides slimming down the thickness; we can make the phone shorter, narrower etc.


Nevertheless, in the Smartphone era, making the phone shorter or narrower is difficult to achieve since the big touch screen mobile is the trend setting design in the consumer market. Being “slim” is the only way out that makes the big-screen phones easy to be carried with. This development direction is also for other electronic products such as notebook, iPad, monitors etc.


The common point for the Non-Smartphone and Smartphone periods is that manufacturers have been always endeavored to minimize the thickness to improve the portability and make it a true mobile communication terminal. Speaking of which, you might be interested to have an overview about the latest classic ultra-slim phone products in Chinese domestic market.


Firstly, at the time when mobile phone was seen as a luxury product, Ericsson launched T28SC with a thickness of 15.9mm, which is thinner than the antenna. It quickly became a must-to-have model for most of the mobile lovers. Later on, manufacturers turned the focus onto the built-in antenna technology development.


Secondly, Motorola V3 presumably was the most well-known ultra-slim model. The birth of V3 was the beginning of the mobile phone industrial design peak. Its 13.9mm thickness and the stylish flip appearance were still fresh in consumers’ memory. Nowadays, as long as people talk about the ultra-thin mobile phone from that time, Motorola V3 is always one of the sounding iconic roles

Few years after Motorola V3, other international brands have also released their ultra-thin mobile products, such as NECN900, Samsun X828, Toshiba TG01 etc, these models limited their thickness no more than 10mm that had unexpected repercussion  national wide. With the continuous improvement of the intelligence system and straight touch screen, the thickness of ultra-slim mobile decreased from initial dozen mm to 4.85mm today. This achievement doesn’t come from finger flip, but rather based on over a decade development.


Finally, people may ask why the manufacturers work so hard to make the phone thinner and what the motive is. What the advantages are. Eventually the motive is to meet consumers’ need on the light weight and convenient portability. So a stylish light weighted ultra-thin Smart phone with a smooth hand touch feeling attracts a lot of consumers’ attention, meanwhile, it strengthens the brand awareness and becomes more competitive in the market.

As we all know that nothing is perfect. While the phone gets thinner, more problems come out; especially before the battery and screen changing their flexibility. So over slimming down the phone body will possibly impact on the hand feeling and quality. Apple has been doing great in this aspect by adjusting the thickness every two years. Even though it is not the thinnest, it feels good in hand. On the other hand, the phone will risk the issues like being broken, being bent and having short battery life if it is too thin.


But for those manufacturers who pursue the perfection will definitely continue to develop much thinner Smartphone. Recently a new model namely Vivo X5 Max L has been granted the MIIT network license. According to the data shown on the websites, this phone body is only 4.75mm, which is the World’s thinnest phone so far. It is still unknown about the official launch date, but the thickness of this model has broken the current phone thickness records and is likely to refresh the limit constantly.


At this point, we presume that the thickness of 4mm is not the end of ultra-thin mobile phone. When the phone battery and screen can be bent like paper, Smartphone thickness will be even much thinner. By then, mobile phone might be like shown in the science fiction movies that you can wear on the wrist or put in the wallet like a business card. Regardless the phone should be much thinner or not, manufacturers should not ignore the users’ need as well as the technology development because these two factors are complementary to each other.

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  • James

    I’d rather they be about 10mm thick with much bigger batteries!

  • james

    the biggest with somehoe decent specs I found is innos d10f with 6000mAh