Friday, 3 October 2014

Size Matters?

I got an iPhone a few weeks ago, but I’ve only just really got round to exploring its capabilities (beyond phone calls and texts, of course, and checking to make sure I still haven’t had any emails).  I must say, it’s very clever, and I’m sure sooner or later I’ll find some excuses to use some of the features, like the compass.  In the meantime, I’ve been musing about mobile phones and how they’ve evolved over the years.
In the beginning, they were the size, shape and weight of a house brick (and about as good at communication).  I remember when a rather self-important manager where I worked got one of those, and would parade up and down the corridor pretending to converse on it.  He had a perfectly good fixed-line phone in his office, of course, but that wasn’t the point.  We stared and sniggered, possibly with a frisson of envy. 
Over a few years, mobiles rapidly got smaller and smaller.  My first one, bought purely for emergency use, was about the size, shape and weight of the VHS recorder’s remote control.  My suit jacket sagged to the left.  The next one, which also contained a camera (why? I wondered), was half as big. I don’t think I ever took a picture with it. (Why would I?  I had a perfectly good brick-sized SLR for that.)  But you could usually make phone calls, provided you were in exactly the right location at the right time.  (This is still true.)
Over time, they shrank and shrank to the point where you had to use a pin to press the buttons.  (Yes, children, believe it or not, phones had buttons in those days.)  The joke was that this was the only area in which men bragged about having the smallest one.  My last phone was small enough to wriggle through a little hole in the breast pocket of my jacket onto (I reckon) the floor of a London taxi.  Hence the iPhone.
Just after I got the iPhone 5C, the new version 6 came out.  I knew this was going to happen, of course, and got a pretty good price deal as a result.  But I have noticed that they’re getting bigger again.  I saw someone on the street this morning talking into something that looked about A5 size.  Admittedly they’re only growing in two dimensions, they’ll never be as thick as a brick again.
More like a carpet tile, from what I hear.  Bendability wasn’t a planned design feature, but I bet the guys at Cupertino are working on it right now.  The iPhone 10 or 11 will be made of graphene, so you can fold it up, stick it in your pocket or bag and accidentally throw it away along with a used tissue.  You heard it here first.


  1. Now you're making me nostalgic. For the days when mobile batteries would last days on s single charge.

  2. Apparently the latest iPhone melts in your pocket, so you're better off as you are, Tim.

  3. I don't want a bigger one, but buying an iPhone was one of the best things I've ever done in my life. Nearly five years of happiness from it so far. From them, I should say.

  4. I'm not a fan of Apple, so went for a different brand of smartphone and was surprised by how much I used it. I recently acquired to a slightly larger phone with more capabilities but the disadvantage of the extra 'stuff' is shorter battery life; 36 hours is the most I have managed between charges. The other disadvantage of extra 'stuff', as you have observed Tim, is that phones have started to get bigger again. I too have seen smart phones that are almost as big as a tablet. My current phone still fits in the back pocket of my jeans, but not as snugly as my previous smaller phone did and sometimes it falls out of my pocket when I sit down. I wouldn't want anything any bigger than my current phone because for me personally, when it stops being portable, it will stop being useful.

  5. Rog, I've discovered the trick of making the battery last, which is not to use the thing. I suspect however that I will eventually succumb.