iPhone 6s: Why Apple’s New iPhones Have Gained Some Weight

iPhone 6s display with 3D Touch

Source: Apple.com


In a departure from tradition for Apple, this year’s iPhone 6s is thicker and heavier — not thinner and lighter — than its predecessor. So how much more do this year’s iPhone models weigh than last year’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus? And which components of the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus contribute to the phones’ new weight and thickness?

Dante D’Orazio reports for The Verge that both the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus weigh about 11% more than last year’s models. But the culprit isn’t what you’d think — the aerospace-grade 7000-series aluminum alloy. While the exact mixture of the custom alloy is unknown, the 7000-series alloys are only “very slightly” more dense that 6000-series alloys, the type that were used in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The difference between the two is the alloying elements, and 7000-series aluminum is primarily alloyed with zinc, as opposed to the magnesium and silicon used in 6000-series aluminum.

D’Orazio reports that, according to Apple, the aluminum in the iPhone 6s Plus weighs only 2 grams more than the aluminum in the iPhone 6 Plus, while the aluminum in the iPhone 6s weighs a gram less than the aluminum in the iPhone 6. That means that while the new aluminum might keep Apple’s new iPhones from bending, it isn’t responsible for their weight gain.

Instead, it’s the new 3D Touch Display that makes the new iPhones thicker and heavier than last year’s models. The display assembly now weighs more than twice what it did before; it used to weigh 12 grams and now weighs 29 grams. That’s because Apple needed to add a brand-new layer to enable the display to gauge pressure. A layer of capacitive pressure sensors are built in to the backlight of the display, and they make the screen thicker and heavier.

The addition of the Taptic Engine, which provides haptic feedback to let users know that their presses are registering with the phone, is also a new addition and a new consumer of space. Chris Smith reports for BGR that it’s likely the inclusion of the Taptic Engine that led Apple to reduce the battery capacity of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.

As The Cheat Sheet reported shortly after Apple’s September 9 iPhone event, the batteries in this year’s iPhones are smaller than the batteries in last year’s models.  Apple reports that the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s will get the same battery life as the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, likely because the new A9 chip is more efficient than the processor it replaces, and both hardware and software have been optimized for power efficiency.

The iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus weigh in at 14 and 20 grams more than the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus that they replace, respectively. D’Orazio notes that this weight difference won’t have a big effect on users on a day-to-day basis, but it’s still “nice to know” where the extra weight is coming from.

That’s especially true given the fact that Apple fans have grown accustomed to Cupertino making each new iPhone as thin and light as possible, annually unveiling a thinner-than-ever iPhone. That ever-slimmer silhouette generally comes at the expense of the opportunity to address users’ complaints about battery life and pack in the more powerful, longer-lasting battery that most iPhone owners who depend on their devices for a variety of tasks throughout the day would readily choose over the slimmer, lighter-weight silhouette.

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