As a society, we are obsessed with thinness. It doesn’t matter if it’s edited images of skinny models in a magazine or modern houses trying to claim that thin is the new spacious, but skinny is here. But it seems that when it comes to smartphones, Apple and Samsung don’t have the thinnest smartphone. Not by a long shot as it happens! It was back in March when we covered the Gionee Elife S5.1 as the world’s slimmest smartphone at just 5.1mm thick. Now Gionee’s website is carrying the Guinness World Records badge as the thinnest smartphone ever made. We’re not sure for how long it’ll retain this title! However, despite being very thin indeed the Elife S5.1 has a respectable mid-range specification. It comes with a 720p 4.8-inch AMOLED display, a quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 1 GB of RAM with 16 GB of memory, an 8 MP rear camera and a 5 MP front camera. Under the skin there’s a 2,100 mAh battery. Sadly, there’s no MicroSD memory card and the device, available in black, white, green and pink, is only available in China.
This thinness is admirable and doesn’t appear to come at any great cost to the device: on paper, the S5.1 looks comparable to the Samsung Galaxy S III, released in early 2012, but with an updated processor and it’s much thinner. However, Gionee sell a slightly thicker device, the cunningly named Gionee Elife S5.5, which is quite a bit more powerful. The S5.5 is 5.5mm thick but in exchange for the additional 0.4mm, users get a 5.0-inch, 1080p resolution screen, 2 GB of memory in conjunction with a 1.7 GHz octa core MediaTek processor, a 13 MP rear camera and a slightly larger battery at 2,300 mAh. I’m not convinced that I’d notice a difference of 0.4mm in thickness but I’d definitely notice the larger screen and improved rear camera. It’s an interesting question: to what lengths do we value thinness?
The trend of making extremely thin devices seems to have stalled in the last year presumably as device manufacturers attempt to compromise between form factor and battery life: the thinner the device, the less space available for interior components. Improvements in software can help here; Android L is reputed to make a meaningful difference to battery life and this might fuel another push towards thinner Android devices. The next few months are going to be especially interesting.