Friday, March 30, 2012

The handset weight

You might that the weight of the handset is a simple topic. It is not. There are two groups that can just not be made happy with the same device.

Group number one believes that a handset should be as light as possible. This is because they don’t like to hold a heavy brick in their hands for too long. Exercise is a topic for the gym, and not everyone finds massive shoulder muscles attractive—especially on women.

The other group wants value, and from a psychological point of view it is understandable that more weight of a handset suggests there is more value inside. If it feels heavy, it must be good. Also it sounds much more massive when it drops on the floor.

Let’s take a look at the reasons behind the handset weight.

A cordless handset must pass a test called the “drop test”. We know that from the crash test for cars: If you want to sell a car it has to pass it. When the handset falls on the floor, it must not break. It is okay if it opens, as long as the user can still put it together. But plastic breaking off is not okay. The drop test is easier to pass if the device if the device is not so heavy, especially on inside components that don’t actually contribute to stability. A heavy battery can be a major problem for the drop test. What manufacturers do is to make certain parts like snap-ins stronger until it can pass the drop test. As a general rule, a lighter handset makes the drop test easier.

Weight generally speaking costs money. For example, devices have to be shipped from the factory into the warehouse, though that is not a major factor. Other cost factors are the plastic prices, which are also not a big point. We can say that more weight does mean more value, but not much.

A heavy battery is an important factor in Wifi phones, so that they can actually survive the day in the world of MB/s. DECT phones are much less power hungry, and even a cheap battery with a weight of an ounce can survive a week without seeing the charging station. It is technically no big problem to make a light DECT handset with a battery strong enough.

With the decision from Apple to make cell phones out of full metal, it has not become easier to convince people that light handsets are the way to go. I believe this is unfortunate. From a pure functional point of view, a paper-weight device would have been much “cooler” that a heavy device. My advice for the proponents for heavy handsets is to change the side regularly, so that both shoulder muscles end up with the same size. As for the m9, snom could resist to follow that trend and focus on the functionality aspect of the handset, where lighter is just better.

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