Last year, Motorola released the super-thin RAZR… and nothing has been the same ever since.
Since this release, it seems like the mobile phone market has gone crazy about ultra-slim devices. And this has extended to the smartphone market. People are going nuts over the new Motorola Q — which is just under a half inch thick — and comparing it unfavorably with the Treo 700 series — which is about twice that thickness.
While this is understandable, there’s an important point that isn’t getting enough attention in this equation. When engineers sit down to create an ultra-thin device, they really have to focus on the biggest single component: the battery.
Not to put to fine a point on it, super-slim smartphones have to have small batteries. And thus short battery lives.
Lets do a real-world comparison between an ultra-slim smartphone and one that is not.
A good friend of mine has a Treo 700w (that’s the non-thin one). I asked her to tell me what she did to keep it charged up.
“I try to plug it in a few times a week,” is what she said. “I’ve never had an issue, except this one time on a trip I forgot the charger. The thing made it almost the whole week but died near the end.”
In his review, he said, “In the real world, with moderate phone use and 10 minute pulls from our Exchange server, the battery won’t make it through the work day.”
Don’t get me wrong, both of these people love their smartphones. But you have to see that there are some significant trade-offs that come with an ultra-thin model.
Should There Be a Treo Q?
Despite what I’ve just said, I think companies besides Motorola should create smartphones that compete directly with the Q, as long as people are realistic.
Here’s what I’m worried about. In the past few months, I’ve seen numerous posts in forums that say, in essence, “I’d get a smartphone if it could have all the features of a Treo 700 but be as thin as a RAZR or Motorola Q.”
I agree, that would be wonderful… if it were only possible. However, we all have to live in the real world.
There’s no doubt that several companies — like Palm and HTC — could create low-cost, ultra-slim devices. But everyone has to accept that these just won’t offer all the features of a more expensive, larger smartphone like a Treo 700 or HTC Universal. At the very least, as I’ve been harping on, the battery life of these would certainly be significantly less than their larger rivals.
Still, I think these models would find people eager to buy them, just not some of the ones who are currently clamoring for just such devices because, honestly, these people have unrealistic expectations.
There is never going to be one device that satisfies all needs, although some people seem to be hoping for one. At least for a while, everyone needs to accept that the choice is going to be between super-slim smartphones with some functionality, and larger ones with more features.
If you are willing to take the trade-offs and still want an ultra-thin smartphone, then go for it. Just don’t expect it to offer more than is physically possible.