Trail Phone Trends

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 With 10 years of data about my cell phone choices (from past posts about gear lists, as well as a few unpublished gear spreadsheets) let us look at trends and make predictions.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.

See Also:

Author: Jim, Sagebrush

Jim (trail-name Sagebrush) codes audio software for Windows, Linux, Android, and embedded systems. When not working at sagebrush.com, he enjoys backpacking, which this blog is about.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.