© Apple, Sony, Nokia, Samsung/digtech.org
The larger a smartphone is, the more pleasant it is for the eyes and the more can be done with it. Movies? No problem. Games? Sure thing. Surf websites with a lot of text? Bring it on. Pants with small pockets? One-hand operation? Battery life? So the problems start. Smaller screen devices might make more sense then: they fit in your pocket, last longer, weigh less, but for the same reason larger screens are better, smaller screens are worse, and vice versa. So what’s the sweet spot?
If we look at the market we can clearly see the devices are getting bigger: 3.5 inches was once standard. Today, Apple is the last bastion for small handed folk as they are the only manufacturer holding tenaciously to the four inch screen – for now. Smartphones with 4.3-inch displays, meanwhile, are now sold as “minis”. Five inches is the current standard, and the term “phablet” – ie devices which are again significantly larger and move up to six or more inches diagonally – is becoming more acceptable. Then there’s tablets beginning around the 7-inch range and up.
Smartphone owners who are not blessed with gigantic paws are soon in trouble, at least if you consider a phone as a device designed to be operated one-handed with your thumb alone. With my Galaxy Nexus I’m already there at the limits of what is physically feasible. Nevertheless, my next smartphone will likely measure five inches or more. It’s important to have screen space to make it easy on the eyes and more functional, but I am a bit skeptical of needing two hands to work my phone. And yet, I reacted slightly incredulously when someone told me today that he only wanted a device screen between 3.5 and 4.5 inches. But to each his own.