ZTE and Oppo think smartphones need to be thinner, few people agree

Oppo FinderManufacturers love to be able to print eye-catching claims on the side of boxes. If it’s a world-beater in some respect, then even better, as this can then be printed inside a little circle of gold stars, like an award.

At the moment, there’s a quest to claim the honor of making the “world’s thinnest smartphone,” a record that has changed hands many, many times.

So hotly contested is this, that the UK’s advertising standards people became involved in a battle between Apple and Samsung (who else) back in 2011, over whether the iPhone 4, with its uniform 9.3mm chassis, was thinner than the bulgy Galaxy S II, which was both 8.5mm, 8.7mm and 9.9mm thick at different points.

Eventually, it was decided that Apple was the rightful owner of the “world’s thinnest” badge. Not that it mattered, as it was soon stolen away by everyone from Motorola to Huawei.

This week has seen a flurry of activity on the increasingly ridiculous race to make a phone that disappears when viewed side on, as not one but two new challengers appeared.

ZTE AthenaNew challengers

Oppo, a manufacturer best known for making Blu-ray players, released details of the Finder, an Android phone which measures just 6.65mm thick.

The promo video compares the Finder to the iPhone 4, the Galaxy S2 and the Motorola Droid Razr, but conveniently misses out the Huawei Ascend P1 S, which it beats by only 0.03mm to claim its title.

The Finder is out early next month in China, and has a 1.5Ghz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel camera and a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus touchscreen.

But Oppo’s moment in the limelight has been short-lived, as ZTE has teased the Athena, which will measure a mere 6.2mm thick. The pictures give nothing away, and the only spec details provided are that it will have a 720p resolution screen, 64GB of internal memory and most interestingly, a Cortex A15 processor — which is far more noteworthy that the size of the chassis.

The sad thing is, removing the word “smart” from all these claims renders them invalid, as Samsung’s Ultra Edition U100 from 2007 measured 5.9mm at its thinnest point (it was shaped like the Galaxy S2), so it still beats all these challengers.

Aside from the marketing department, does anyone really care whether their phone is thinner than the competition? Until someone pushes battery technology forward in the same way — imagine if this was a race to squeeze more hours of talktime out of an ever thinner battery instead — we very much doubt it.

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