When Samsung launched the Galaxy S II in 2011, I remember asking myself why Samsung had kept most of the body thin apart from the bottom and the camera assembly area. You see, although the quoted dimensions showed that it was 8.49mm thin (I guess it’s important to show that it’s under 8.5mm thin!), at its thickest part it was closer to 10mm. The answer is because Samsung wanted to keep the S II’s dimensions as showing it was under 8.5mm thin and they were prepared to make a compromise in the design: battery. The Galaxy S III packed a 1,650 mAh rechargeable battery, which at the time was amongst the largest in the flagship arena but when they released the official extended battery, not only did this increase the thickness so that the back of the handset now sat flush right the way, but the battery was an impressive 2,000 mAh. The object of this lesson is to demonstrate that some manufacturers, or perhaps more realistically, marketing departments often make demands and sacrifices in the name of smartphone thinness. Throwing out LCD screens in favour of thinner AMOLED and cutting down on the battery capacity are the two easy wins for a thin design, but what if you want to make the handset even thinner?
That’s a question we should probably ask Vivo as they’re rumored to be building a remarkably thin handset at just 3.8mm thin. The current thin champion is the Gionee Elife S5.1, which as you might expect from the name, is 5.1mm thick. The Elife S5.1 has a respectable, but definitely mid-range, specification and combines a 4.8-inch 720p AMOLED screen, a quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of memory, an 8 MP rear camera and a 2,100 mAh battery. That’s a better compromise, as we should expect given that it uses three year newer technology. And the same is true of the other thin smartphones, such as the Sony Xperia Z3 at 7.3mm (with a 3,100 mAh battery), the Samsung Galaxy Alpha at 6.7mm (1,860 mAh) and the Huawei Ascend P7 (2,500 mAh) at 6.5mm. Of these devices, it’s the Galaxy Alpha that has the most compromised battery life, but we can also see that manufacturers are better able to cram a reasonably high capacity battery into moderately thin devices. The Vivo is half as thick, near as matters, as the Samsung Galaxy Alpha! Can it possibly have a similar capacity battery?
We don’t have any other information at this point, other than some images showing how thin the handset is compared with the iPhone 5S. I can’t comment on the size of the screen, the processor and memory, or critically the size of the battery. Perhaps Vivo have managed to squeeze in a respectable sized battery plus a decent mid-range specification into such a thin chassis with a compromise along the way – it might be the camera(s)? Perhaps the Vivo has a 6.5-inch screen so simple has a very big, but flat, battery? Or maybe there’s a bump at the bottom of the device that isn’t showing on these pictures? And at this thinness, it probably won’t be including a 3.5mm headphone socket. I also have to ask what the device is made of?
Will it bend? Could the Vivo be constructed of a high tech alloy designed to be strong, resilient and lightweight, similar to Oppo’s lithium-aluminum chassis? Or is this a prototype model and the real deal will be only a little thinner than the Elife S5.1?