What's New Is Thin Again

It has been a while since Apple introduced a new product that was markedly thinner than its predecessor, such that it was a selling point of the device. Throughout the early 2010s, it was almost a meme that every new shiny Apple gadget was touted as thinner. Apple rolled out the thinnest ever marketing blurb for the iPhone 4, the iPhone 5, the iPhone 6, the iPad 2, the iPad Air, the 12-inch MacBook and many more.

Those priorities shifted by the end of the decade, and certainly in the years since Jony Ive’s departure. On the phone side, goals to pack in bigger batteries and better cameras dominated any desires for more compactness. iPhone thinness peaked with the iPhone 6 at 6.9 mm in 2014, and has gradually increased ever since. The iPhone 15 Pro series measures 8.25 mm, in contrast. On the Mac front, the tribulations of the butterfly keyboard and related dramas resulted in a substantial change of course and the 2021 MacBook Pro was celebrated for its thicker enclosure, with customers grateful that Apple had not made compromises for thinness’s sake.

The 2024 iPad Pro bucks the trend, in style. Apple is incredibly proud to present the new iPad lineup as the thinnest Apple devices ever, and having seen the new models in person, it deserves all the plaudits. The new iPad Pro is breathtaking to hold in your hand. It is slender, and an insanely cool sight to behold. Picking it up feels like a flourish in itself. They also achieved all this whilst also improving burst and sustained performance of the device, thanks to the efficiency of the M4 chip and some clever heat dissipation trickery. The hardware is impressive and hard to fault.

Is this a one-off event or is thinness back in fashion again? It certainly feels like the new iPad is existence proof that Apple could make a really thin yet uncompromised MacBook, but we aren’t hearing that is on the cards quite yet. Interestingly, as of this week, there are rumours that Apple is readying an upscale iPhone redesign for 2025, that The Information describes as thinner than current models. I struggle to imagine that a thinner pro iPhone will have the same visceral impact as the iPad Pro though; the large protruding camera bump is a figurative and literal thorn in its side.