The marketeers spin on phone thickness

Hands up who watched the Apple live event last night. I watched the live blog feed from the apple site, so I got the important points without having to watch 2 hours of Apple exec’s announcing new features. My interest was primarily about whether Apple were going to release a 12 inch iPad or not – they did not, so we will have to wait for the next announcement.

But while I was watching I was stuck by this image:

Thicknesses of new iPhones from apple.com
Thicknesses of new iPhones from taken from apple.com
iPhone Thickness as presented (from qz.com)
iPhone Thickness as presented (from qz.com)

While all the words the presenters were saying on stage was that the new iPhone is “the thinnest iPhone ever”.

Looking at the image above, the new iPhone looks a lot thinner than the previous version (especially in the projected view on the stage). As far as I can tell this appears to be because of the differences in lighting on the different iPhones. This causes different highlights on the different models and appears to make the screen disappear on the iPhone 6.

The lighting on the photo from of the iPhone 5S appears to come from the side. While the lighting on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus appears to come from the camera direction. This shows the edge of the screen on iPhone 5 while the edge of the screen is not so visible on the iPhone 6.

I’ve done some calculations based on the pixel sizes of the above photo. The iPhone 5S is 100px wide so all percentages are based on that measurement.

Model Obvious width Obvious percentage smaller Actual width Actual percentage smaller
iPhone 5 100px 100px
iPhone 6 86px  14% 90px  10%
iPhone 6 Plus 89px  11% 93px  7%

So while the numbers add up, the visuals provide appear to show the iPhone 6 as thinner than it actually is. I wonder how many people didn’t listen to the numbers and just looked at the images and assumed that the new models were much thinner instead of only a bit thinner.

I had a little search to see if anyone else had been struck by that thought. As always with the internet, your never the first to write about something like this. David Yanofsky at Quatz who says that Apple used trick photography to make the new iPhones look thinner. His final thought is that the published dimensions from Apple don’t include the protruding camera lens on iPhone 6 (the camera lens was flush with the iPhone 5’s body).