Gionee have, at various times, been the manufacturer of the slimmest smartphone in the world. This time last year, Gionee released the Elife S5.5, so named because it was just 5.5mm thin. Later in 2014, they released the Elife 5.1, which as the name might suggest, is just 5.1mm thin and this year they appear set to be doing the same as they’ve announced that they’re to be launching “the latest ultra-slim smartphone” on the 2 March at the Mobile World Congress, or MWC, Barcelona. The Gionee head of global marketing had this to say on the matter: “The race to make the slimmest smartphone was getting out of hand. Going so slim is actually not benefiting user experience without the performance to back it up.” In other words, Gionee are aiming to deliver a very thin smartphone that offers all of the functionality and performance of larger (thicker) models.
It’s true that the typical ultra-slim smartphone has compromises compared with a more normally sized device, although it’s also true that smartphone thicknesses have been dropping over the years. Ultraslim devices may make do without the headphone socket, may have a protruding rear camera and small capacity batteries. Many use AMOLED panels, as AMOLED is (everything being equal) thinner than LCD technologies. Ultraslim handsets are often built from exotic materials that are very strong for their dimensions. And because the chassis is so thin, they may run warmer under load or have relatively poorer signal compared with fatter designs, as there are more antennas stuffed into a given volume.
We don’t know what Gionee have up their sleeve or how much thinner they’re going. Perhaps they’ll drop the headphone socket, forcing customers to adopt a wireless headset. And perhaps they’ll even drop a physical MicroUSB port, instead providing an adapter and a slimmer built-in design, incorporating a Qi or other wireless charger coil into the handset instead. It’ll be interesting to see how the “no compromise” promise stacks up: from my perspective, I would take a thicker smartphone if it meant I could see several days use from a charge. Would I want a 15mm thick smartphone if I could see a week to a charge? Perhaps. What do our readers think? Let us know in the comments below.