I was recently forced to upgrade my cell phone after a hardware failure, and started worrying about the market trend of phones growing larger and heavier each year. My phone counts as part of my backpacking base weight (as defined as pack weight minus food and water), since it normally resides in a holder on my pack strap. How long until cell phone weights start seriously impacting base weight, which I try to keep under 10lbs for ultralight hiking?
Tl;dr Summary: Not to worry. My trail smartphones have not gotten unreasonably heavier in 10 years.
Details for Gear Geeks:
This year I celebrate my 10th consecutive year of doing a long backpacking trips each summer. A bulging lithium-polymer battery forced an unplanned cell phone upgrade.
For ultralight gear, I prefer small lightweight phones, but cell phone manufacturers seem to be introducing ever-larger screens and higher-capacity, heavier batteries. It is sometimes difficult to find low-weight new models that can handle the latest, more secure operating system versions. With 10 years of data about my cell phone choices (from past posts about gear lists, as well as a few unpublished gear spreadsheets) let us look at trends and make predictions.
|Year||Model||Weight (grams)||Diagonal (cm)||Battery Capacity (Ah)||Why upgrade from this model?||Comments|
|2012||Samsung Intercept||140||12.6||1.5||change carrier||slide out keyboard|
|2013||Motorola Defy XT||109||12.9||1.65||donate to family member|
|2014||Motorola Moto X||136||15.8||2.3||broken screen (fixed once)|
|2019||Motorola Moto E(4)||178||16.1||2.8||failed repair of bulging battery|
|2021||Google Pixel 3||188||16.1||2.9||bulging battery broke case||purchased used, poor battery|
|2023||Google Pixel 5||193||16.1||4.1||n/a|
Notes about the data: My preference is to not use the latest and greatest model phones, and to keep them for as long as practical.
Diagonal case dimensions are more useful than screen diagonal dimensions, since the screen can grow by reducing borders and cutouts.
Weights include protective cases and screen protectors.
Just for LOLs, if I do a dumb linear regression, what does that predict for the weight of my cell in another 10 years, in 2032? Using the Forecast function in Libre Calc, I get 259.5 grams.