iPhone 11 Is 2019 an Inflection Point for iPhone Weight?

okieoutwest

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 14, 2019
49
48
california
In a few different threads and across different sites I've noticed that folks in general have a few thoughts about the weight of iPhones. There generally seem to be 3 camps (very generally):

1. "The new iPhones [if talking about the 11, basing on the X; if talking about the X, basing on the 6/7/8] are too heavy! Phones are heading in the wrong direction!"

2. "The extra weight adds more battery life, and I am willing to accept that trade-off."

3. "Weight doesn't matter! Go to the gym if you can't carry around a few extra ounces of weight!"

I think all opinions on this are basically a matter of preference, but #3 in particular struck me as funny. As someone who has issues with their hands from carpal tunnel / RSI, I do notice an increase in weight of a device that is held in the hand as I'm sure do others who use computers for a majority of their work or populations like seniors who have other hand-related issues. It's not as if going to the gym to deadlift is somehow going to change how a phone feels in the palm.

Curious about the actual numbers, I pulled the data for myself from Wikipedia. Here's my quick and dirty comparison of iPhone weights since 2013. I stopped here because the populations using phones earlier than this get increasingly smaller. Most of the discussions I've seen revolve around the iPhone SE vs 6/7/8 form factor and the latest X/XS/XR/11 form factor.

ModelMass, gYOY IncreaseIncrease from 5s/SE
5s/SE113--
612914%14%
6s14311%27%
7138-3.5%22%
81487.2%31%
X17435%54%
XS1771.7%57%
XR19415%72%
111940%72%
[td][/td]
[td][/td]​
[td]

Two observations:

A. Someone coming from an iPhone SE to an 11 will experience a 72% increase in weight. Other phones are not as dramatic, but from an iPhone 8 to an 11 is still 31% increase.

B. Weight change this year from iPhone XR to 11 is flat but will be an increase if switching from an XS to 11.


So, finally, a question for the forum: with Apple claiming 1 additional hour of battery life for the 11 compared to the XR and weight staying steady, has the iPhone finally hit a sweet spot for weight vs. battery life & performance?[/td]
 

537635

macrumors 6502a
Mar 7, 2009
635
551
Slovenia, EU
Good comparison!

I actually still use 5s and XS Max. XS Max as a daily driver, 5s as a Keynote remote. Damn is that a compact phone...
 

bnmcj1

macrumors 6502
Apr 13, 2014
398
180
Well. Even if I do train (to counter the go to the gym), I returned iPhone 8 solely due to weight and downgraded to a 7. It feels so much nicer to use.

In general, I want a big screen like the Max, but with the weight of a galaxy s10 plus. Even considered that phone, but I need iMessage

I’m not impressed with the improved battery life as it requires carrying what feels like a brick in the pocket and hand.
 

Iphone5preorder

macrumors 6502a
Sep 20, 2012
869
460
Love the comparison. Thank you, sir.

I'm going to 11pro from 6s. Never held a phone heavier than my 6s. Hopefully I don't mind
 

MacDevil7334

macrumors 65816
Oct 15, 2011
1,153
1,359
Austin TX
OP, you’ve done a good job with this analysis. However, a simple comparison of weights doesn’t tell the whole story. The 11 is a significantly larger phone than was the 5S. I think it might be more useful to compare the densities of the various phones. That is, look at the weight of each phone divided by the footprint of the phone. Some of the weight gain between generations is a simple function of going to bigger phone sizes, while others are really from bigger batteries and use of heavier materials like stainless steel and glass in the enclosures. Calculating densities will help capture that. IIRC, the 6 was actually a slightly less dense phone than the 5S, despite being physically bigger in size.
 
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niji

Contributor
Feb 9, 2003
1,647
1,358
tokyo
weight has always been a huge usability factor for me.
thanks for the comparative data chart.

spring 2020 iPhone 8 replacement (new "SE"): we are waiting.

the post about "density" is certainly true.
its not just weight, but outer (hand held) dimensions that factor in a lot.
to the point: yes, when i first held an iPhone X in my hand, the weight was the 1st thing felt (comparison: iPhone 6s), but as i shifted the phone in my hand (kind of jiggling it in my palm), the phone felt balanced. and it had a good "feeling" due to that balance.
but i didn't buy it.

(redux) spring 2020 iPhone 8 replacement (new "SE"): we are waiting.
 
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JPack

macrumors 603
Mar 27, 2017
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Weight is likely to go up for a couple reasons:

- Apple is adopting on-touch cell OLED, leading to thinner displays. In other words, more room for battery like this year.
- ToF sensor will draw more power.
- Emerging markets look for devices with extended battery life. We saw Apple acknowledge that this year.
 
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okieoutwest

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 14, 2019
49
48
california
But 11 pro isn’t even on the list
11 Pro is 188g. That's 6.2% heavier than the XS and 66% heavier than the 5s/SE.

I think it might be more useful to compare the densities of the various phones. That is, look at the weight of each phone divided by the footprint of the phone. Some of the weight gain between generations is a simple function of going to bigger phone sizes, while others are really from bigger batteries and use of heavier materials like stainless steel and glass in the enclosures. Calculating densities will help capture that. IIRC, the 6 was actually a slightly less dense phone than the 5S, despite being physically bigger in size.
Thanks for the thoughtful feedback. You're right, and I thought about this while making the chart, whether to go a step further to do a real volumetric density. However, as consumers I thought this was sufficient given we don't have influence over those design choices.

I also chose not to chart out the Plus phones. Because iPhone nomenclature is changing year by year, I would describe the category included here as "the base iPhone issued every year" or "non-modified-name iPhones" i.e. the iPhone 11 not the iPhone 11 Pro, the iPhone 6 not the iPhone 6 Plus. These are, then, the weights of the default containers we're given to access the functionality of iPhones each year.

And, anecdotally, having just switched from a 6 to a SE I would say you're right. The SE is lighter but has more gravitas in the hand.
[doublepost=1568668048][/doublepost]
Weight is likely to go up for a couple reasons:

- Apple is adopting on-touch cell OLED, leading to thinner displays. In other words, more room for battery like this year.
- ToF sensor will draw more power.
- Emerging markets look for devices with extended battery life. We saw Apple acknowledge that this year.
Great points that I wasn't thinking of. This makes me wonder if we will see a demarcation in the non-Pro/Pro line for getting ToF. (Or how Apple will draw out the distinction further going forward.) If I were to ask "How could Apple keep the iPhone weight flat or even shrink it based on current rumors?" then perhaps possibilities could include:

- shrink volume, maintain battery capacity, move to OLED
- keep volume, move to OLED, add TOF (assuming OLED has some energy savings that could offset TOF? I don't know enough about this)
 
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JPack

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Mar 27, 2017
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Great points that I wasn't thinking of. This makes me wonder if we will see a demarcation in the non-Pro/Pro line for getting ToF. (Or how Apple will draw out the distinction further going forward.) If I were to ask "How could Apple keep the iPhone weight flat or even shrink it based on current rumors?" then perhaps possibilities could include:

- shrink volume, maintain battery capacity, move to OLED
- keep volume, move to OLED, add TOF (assuming OLED has some energy savings that could offset TOF? I don't know enough about this)
I suspect 200-250g weight will soon become the baseline weight for new iPhones. Both emerging and mature markets want or will need more battery life, so I don't think there's an opportunity for a lightweight device.

Apple showed us in 2018/19 that they were willing to go thicker in exchange for battery capacity, even after the removal of 3D Touch. Looking forward to 2020, there are increasing demands for power. The 5.42" iPhone is smaller, but I see Apple positioning it next to their AR glasses. It would serve as a processing, network, and camera tether for the glasses, so battery is a must. The iPhone 8 refresh rumored for early next year is targeted at emerging markets, so again battery is a focus.

Perhaps if Apple designs a device without 3D Touch nor a glass back, it will allow for weight savings.
 

ARizz44

macrumors 65816
Sep 28, 2015
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With such an emphasis on ‘premium’ design, it’s difficult to envision the weight going down. The days of Samsung and the removable plastic back of the S3 appear gone for good. The all-glass design with a stainless steel frame are proven to increase weight as opposed to plastic, or even aluminum bodies. Add to this increasingly larger displays, larger batteries, etc....

What does confuse me as I have not researched this, but how the Note 10 Plus (6.39 x 3.04 x 0.31 in) with a 4,300 mAh battery weighs 6.91 ounces but the iPhone Pro Max (6.22 x 3.06 x 0.32 in) with a 3,500 mAh battery weighs 7.97 ounces. I’m guessing it must be the build materials.
 

okieoutwest

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 14, 2019
49
48
california
I suspect 200-250g weight will soon become the baseline weight for new iPhones.
Perhaps the only caveat to this might be seeing some serious improvements come to scale in Li-ion batteries in the new few years as well. However, Li-ion's current designs are likely far enough ahead on a cost curve they'll be hard to beat in consumer devices for some time. I recall a few years back some folks in the Bay Area started working in silicon anodes for Li-ion batteries, but they were having real trouble scaling it for commercial use.

I think I agree with you re: phones as the "brain" for smaller devices, much like it is already for the Watch. Personally I hope the watch can be un-tethered soon, but if there's an interesting enough use case for other wearables, I wouldn't mind carrying a phone in a bag or something where I didn't need to have it in hand or in my pocket all the time.
 

Nacho98

macrumors 6502a
Jul 11, 2019
680
597
I like the heft. A heavier phone feels more substantial/premium, whether that's right or wrong.
 

jmgregory1

macrumors 68000
An interesting thing about weight of devices, be it an iPhone or a hair dryer, many people equate weight or heft with higher quality. It’s kind of like how people react when they hear the door of a big Mercedes shut with a thunk, vs the rather tinny sound that the door of a Subaru makes when shut. The same is [mostly] true with watches too, where the better watches are often heavier.

With iPhones, it plays out this way too, where the stainless steel versions are considered the better and more expensive versions, compared to the aluminum versions.

Where things get thrown off a bit is with titanium. It is lighter than most stainless steel varieties, but by weight is stronger, and it’s more thermally efficient, resistant to fatigue and non-corrosive. But it is also more expensive, so when some people feel the weight of a titanium product, they may feel like it’s not of the same quality compared to the same product made from stainless steel.

I think a titanium framed iPhone would be a fantastic super upscale addition for Apple to offer.
 
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537635

macrumors 6502a
Mar 7, 2009
635
551
Slovenia, EU
In a few different threads and across different sites I've noticed that folks in general have a few thoughts about the weight of iPhones. There generally seem to be 3 camps (very generally):

1. "The new iPhones [if talking about the 11, basing on the X; if talking about the X, basing on the 6/7/8] are too heavy! Phones are heading in the wrong direction!"

2. "The extra weight adds more battery life, and I am willing to accept that trade-off."

3. "Weight doesn't matter! Go to the gym if you can't carry around a few extra ounces of weight!"

I think all opinions on this are basically a matter of preference, but #3 in particular struck me as funny. As someone who has issues with their hands from carpal tunnel / RSI, I do notice an increase in weight of a device that is held in the hand as I'm sure do others who use computers for a majority of their work or populations like seniors who have other hand-related issues. It's not as if going to the gym to deadlift is somehow going to change how a phone feels in the palm.

Curious about the actual numbers, I pulled the data for myself from Wikipedia. Here's my quick and dirty comparison of iPhone weights since 2013. I stopped here because the populations using phones earlier than this get increasingly smaller. Most of the discussions I've seen revolve around the iPhone SE vs 6/7/8 form factor and the latest X/XS/XR/11 form factor.

ModelMass, gYOY IncreaseIncrease from 5s/SE
5s/SE113--
612914%14%
6s14311%27%
7138-3.5%22%
81487.2%31%
X17435%54%
XS1771.7%57%
XR19415%72%
111940%72%
[td][/td]
[td][/td]​
[td]

Two observations:

A. Someone coming from an iPhone SE to an 11 will experience a 72% increase in weight. Other phones are not as dramatic, but from an iPhone 8 to an 11 is still 31% increase.

B. Weight change this year from iPhone XR to 11 is flat but will be an increase if switching from an XS to 11.


So, finally, a question for the forum: with Apple claiming 1 additional hour of battery life for the 11 compared to the XR and weight staying steady, has the iPhone finally hit a sweet spot for weight vs. battery life & performance?[/td]

Another good metrics would be weight to screen ratio, also for the Max and Plus phones. So how many grams for an inch of screen realestate.
[doublepost=1568705745][/doublepost]
I think a titanium framed iPhone would be a fantastic super upscale addition for Apple to offer.
I think we might finally see a $2000 iPhone.