Why are phones so heavy?
In order to simplify things a bit, we’re going to focus on Apple and Samsung flagships: just the core models from the original iPhone right to the Galaxy S20. There are some interesting points to be made, and if you take a look at the chart (we promise it’s the only one), you’ll see the trend, together with a few pivotal points.
The first few iPhone models kept weight nearly constant, between 133 and 140 grams. That’s really interesting, considering that the iPhone 4, with its bold and unique design, incorporated metal and glass without gaining much weight. Samsung, on the other hand, started things a lot lighter when the first Galaxy S debuted in 2010. If we compare the iPhone 3GS with the Samsung Galaxy S (they’re very similar, leading to numerous lawsuits), we’ll see that the Galaxy S is nearly 30 grams lighter, despite having a bigger screen and being overall a bigger device.
2012 was a pivotal year for the two companies weightwise. Apple ticked a lot of boxes with the aluminum design of the iPhone 5 while keeping the weight minimal at 112 grams. The Samsung Galaxy S III from the same year was a lot heavier at 133 grams, mainly because it was a bigger device with a bigger battery. The latter, by the way, is one of the main contributors to phones’ weight. Apple kept the screen size at four inches and the battery was also significantly smaller capacity, hence the lighter device.
Meanwhile, at Apple things were growing in size. The demand for bigger screens resulted in an increase in screen size from 4 to 4.7 inches between the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 6. Battery capacity was also increased to cope with the energy consumption of the bigger screen. The trend for smartphones to gain weight started to form.
Why are smartphones getting heavier?
- Screen size kept growing through the years resulting in bigger devices.
- Glass and metal are used predominantly. Glass and metal are heavy.
- Batteries have increased in capacity and size, adding to the weight.
The future weighs down on us
If you like things light and small, the future looks a bit gloomy, regarding smartphones. Companies have not only pushed for bigger, ultra-premium devices (Galaxy S20 Ultra, iPhone XS Max) but also introduced new heavyweight champions - the foldable smartphones. The Samsung Galaxy Fold weighs 276 g - equivalent to two smaller smartphones, which in all fairness this device actually looks like. The Huawei Mate X is even heavier, pushing the 300 grams limit (295 g).