iPhone 11 corrects the biggest mistake of the Jony Ive era

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JerryRigEverything
Is this the end of too-thin Apple products?
Photo: JerryRigEverything/YouTube

The iPhone 11 Pro Max promises up to five hours more battery life than the iPhone XS Max that precedes it. That’s around a 33% increase1. This battery boost could come down to a more efficient OLED screen, a bigger or better battery, a more efficient processor, or — most likely — a combination of these factors.

But whatever the reason, this marks the first time iPhone battery life jumped so much in one generation. Usually, the iPhone sacrifices any excess battery life to get thinner or lighter. And yet the iPhones 11 Pro come in heavier and a hair thicker than their iPhone XS predecessors. What’s going on? Has Jony Ive’s reign finally ended?

Jony Ive leaves Apple

Jony Ive left Apple last June. Technically, he continues working on some projects, but it seems fair to assume he’s been on his way out for a while, with his team taking on Apple’s design work. And lo! The first iPhone out of the gate after Ive’s departure is thicker, heavier and has way, way more battery life. For comparison, the iPhone XS measures 0.30 inch (7.7 mm) thick, while the iPhone 11 Pro comes in at 0.32 inch (8.1 mm) thick.

Weight? The XS weighs in at 6.24 ounces (177 grams), whereas the new 11 Pro hits 6.63 ounces (188 grams). The new model’s height and width also increase by a hair.

Some of this might be attributed to the third camera in these models, but that’s not the point. Ive-era Apple would have taken the extra power budget — those five hours of extra battery life — and spent some of it on thinning the iPhone and making it lighter. Instead, post-Ive Apple decided to give buyers an extra half-workday of battery life. That’s a decision that will also affect Apple’s own iPhone battery case sales, although who knows if that amounts to much?

iPhone 11 Pro battery life signals new priorities at Apple

I know my theory is shaky. It’s hard to tell where Ive’s influence ends. It’s also possible that making the iPhone any thinner would compromise stability. Perhaps the extra weight is also due to making the unit tougher? The size and weight of an iPhone involves far more factors that I could even think of, but even so, this is a new direction for Apple.

And it’s a direction that many people will like. Better battery life typically ranks among the most-desired features when it comes to new iPhones.

We should keep an eye on this in the future. The iPhone headphone jack will never come back, but the dominance of thinness over everything else may finally be over.

  1. Tracking the actual battery life of an iPhone is tricky. On the iPhone comparison page, all the battery figures are comparative. The iPhone 11 Pro gets “up to four hours longer than the iPhone XS.” The iPhone XS? 30 minutes longer than the X. The X? Two hours longer than the iPhone 7. Etc.To get actual times, you must scroll to the Power and Battery section, where you get figures for various activities.The figure I chose is the most demanding available: video playback. The XS Max gets 15 hours. The 11 Pro Max enjoys 20 hours.