Smartphone displays seem to be getting bigger and bigger lately, don’t they? Consider Samsung’s flagship smartphone series – the Galaxy S: it started out in 2010 at 4-inches, expanded to a reasonable 4.3-inches in 2011 with the Galaxy S II, blew up to a massive 4.8-inches in 2012 with the Galaxy S III, before settling on a 5-inch full HD display that dominates the front of the recently announced Galaxy S4. Apart from this, there’s also the Galaxy Note ‘phablet’ line that started in late 2011 with a 5.3″ screen, which was bumped up to 5.5″ in 2012 with the Note II.
Other smartphone manufacturers have similary followed suit. The displays on the latest flagship models from the likes of HTC, LG, and Motorola are all well above 4 inches. Any smartphone from these Android manufacturers having a display smaller than 4.5 inches is usually from the mid-end category now, on basis of lower internal specifications.
So display sizes in the range of 4.7″ – 5″ have become pretty much the norm now for high-end devices, save for one smartphone manufacturer. I believe you already know which one I’m referring to; its name starts with an ‘A’ and ends in ‘pple’, and its flagship smartphone has a ‘meagre’ 4″ display. So, what’s exactly happening here? Why are our phones getting bigger?
One reasonable-sounding theory states that this is due to the fact that 4G LTE chips require a roomier motherboard, and – because of its resource-intensive nature – a bigger battery. With currently existing technology, it is not possible to fit both in a small, slim smartphone without sacrificing battery life. And when you do have to have a large phone, you might as well fit it with a large display, rather than giving it a huge bezel.
Now, Android smartphone manufacturers quickly jumped to LTE to set their phones apart from Apple and Microsoft’s offerings, and in doing so, they discovered that a good number of people actually like their smartphone displays to be gigantic. With a spacious display, you get larger keys for easier typing, more content in text-heavy apps like your favorite RSS reader and your browser, and a vastly improved movie-watching experience.
This significantly reduces overall portability though, with one particularly unnerving collateral loss being not able to control the phone using one hand – something Steve Jobs regularly mentioned when discussing the benefits of the 3.5″ iPhone display.
As a proud owner of a 3.5″ iPhone 4S, and as someone who has had extensive hands-on playtime with well-endowed smartphones, I personally believe any display larger than 4-4.3″ is just a plain, bad idea. I say this because in my personal experience, I have found that with larger displays, you have to readjust your grip when you need to tap on UI elements at the top-left and top-right corners – a regular, unpleasant occurrence, especially on Android. One example of this is the official Twitter app. On iOS, the navigation bar is at the bottom whereas on Android it is located at the very top.
However, this inconvenience may be worth it considering all the good things that a large display brings with itself. I expect to find the definite answer to this question of “Is bigger better?” when I hopefully buy myself an HTC One (boasting a 4.7″ Full HD display) later this year.
Now that you have read my thoughts on the topic, it’s time for you to tell us about yours. You may leave a comment in the comments section, or join our poll below.