I end up reading a lot of reviews for new smartphones because I am a geek and that is the sort of thing that interests me despite the fact that I am not really in the market for a new one.

The constant emphasis in the smartphone world is on the thickness or slenderness of the device. Almost uniformly, slender is considered better. Which is great, up to a point. I have to confess that when I hold some of my earlier smartphones, I am taken aback by how thick they are. I wonder how it didn’t bother me.

Here is the problem: The increased thinness has come at the expense of sturdiness. Which is a tradeoff without normative value. Except when it reaches the point where the phones are so fragile that you have to put them in a case. At that point, it really sort of defeats the purpose of it being thin to begin with, doesn’t it?

I remember a review of phones that on the one hand talk about how nice and slim the phones are. They also talk about how nice or not-nice the exterior of the device is. And yet then also talks about how “of course you will want a case”… presumably to protect the phone which is to slim to reliably survive being dropped. And certainly covering the exterior they were complementing.

I cannot tell you how many times I dropped my Samsung Stratosphere and the HTC Touch Pro 2 I had before it and the HTC Fuze I had before that and the HTC TyTn I had before that. None of them broke after repeated drops. They got chipped around the edges, and the battery and/or stylus would eject, and sometimes the latter would get lost, but that would be about the extent of it.

I dropped my Samsung Galaxy S3 once and only once without its protective coating, and it has a crack all along its front. For a while I had it in a protective case, which made it sturdier but defeated the purpose of the phone being so thin. I am willing to bet that if the S3 had a keyboard, the screen wouldn’t have cracked just as the screen from the Strat never cracked. Or even without a keyboard, a little more thickness in the device might obviate the need for an even thicker case.

I suppose this will cease to be an issue once we have the sapphire or Gorilla-Glass screens, or something similar, which will make the devices more droppable. It’s still an odd disconnect, though, in my view.

Category: Market

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5 Responses to Smartphones: Thin To The Point of Delicacy

  1. Peter says:

    Yesterday my phone wouldn’t recharge, so I trotted off to the Verizon Wireless store, figuring in my naive manner that they’d remedy the problem. It was an exercise in frustration. Nobody could figure out how to fix it, so the store manager – a young woman who’s an 8 on the familiar 1-10 scale, but who also has an I.Q. score only slightly higher – said that Samsung would have to send me a warranty replacement. Which also would take a couple of days, and my phone’s charge probably won’t last that long. She refused to replace the phone on the spot, saying that all the phones in the store are for sale and can’t be used for warranty replacement. Of course she could use her authority as manager to make an exception, but she wouldn’t.

    What makes matters worse is that I have over a year left on my contract with Verizon Wireless.

    • trumwill says:

      What kind of phone is it?

    • Of course she could use her authority as manager to make an exception, but she wouldn’t.

      As somebody who works in a call centre, I’d note that even the supervision is rather limited in what they can do. Given that we’re talking about a “free” $500 device, it’s little wonder why Verizon would prefer that you get a refurbished phone from the manufacturer than a new phone.

  2. Mike Hunt Rice says:

    I don’t know where the problem is, but the main page is coming up as one column instead of two. The reply page is still two columns.

  3. trumwill says:

    Thanks for the heads up. It’s fixed.

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