Size Doesn’t Matter: It’s How You Use It

Brace yourself for large smack of innuendo.

It’s 2011. Hidden away in a not-so-top secret room in the basement of a hotel somewhere in Barcelona. Myself and a small group of intrepid journos are shown the first glimpses of a Galaxy S2. It looked big.

Think contextually: In 2011 a 4.3’’ screen was considered to be pretty enormous. The Galaxy S2 was only matched in size by HTC’s behemoth HD2. At the launch event and throughout the week of the Mobile World Congress, people’s reactions to the Galaxy S2’s size were mixed. Most people said something like “It’s just too big”, or “Imagine holding it up to your face!”, and more than once “It’s like a phone from that Dom Joly sketch”.

That Dom Joly sketch:

At the end of 2011, Samsung announced the Galaxy Note in Berlin with it’s 5.3’’ screen. JK Shin announced it as a “New Category” between a smartphone and a tablet. Opinion was divided on this size – I’d say about 50-50. I heard many “industry experts” (apparently every single person who attends these events is an industry expert) reject the size entirely – saying that it was far too large and just a marketing gimmick. Today the Galaxy Note size has been affectionately and readily adopted by consumers as a “phablet”… but already the “standard” smartphone size isn’t too far behind…

With the 4.8’’ screen of the Galaxy S3 and 5’’ screen of the newly launched Galaxy S4: Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone range is already catching up with the phablets.

The Galaxy S4 has a 5’’ display inside a chassis the same size as the 4.8’’ Galaxy S3. Image from KensTechTips

So, given the initial resistance to larger smartphone sizes, why is it that manufacturers are making bigger and bigger flagship devices? Samsung have recently announced the “Galaxy Mega” which is in the 6’’ range, and we expect the Galaxy Note 3 to be up there, too!

The Galaxy Mega is a whopping 6.3’’

Well, there are undoubtedly many advantages of a larger device. As long as you can fit it in your pocket, then the bigger the better!

  • Multimedia: You get a much richer multimedia experience. A larger screen size makes it easier for the eyes to pick out details, as there will be more pixels to look at. It’s also much easier to type on a larger display, as you don’t have to be as accurate with your finger taps.

  • Samsung’s larger phones allow for split-screen multitasking, so you can look at an manage two Apps at once.

  • You can fit a larger battery into a larger device. Even though the screen is larger and using more power, you are able to fit considerably larger batteries. The Galaxy Note 2 has a 3100mAh battery, and one of the best battery lives of all smartphones.

The disadvantages are few and far between. Larger devices are somewhat less portable, and perhaps the glass is more likely to break when dropped (as there is more of it), but then again, glass is always likely to break when you drop it!!

So what does the future hold for smartphone size? Samsung is making a bold move by moving their new flagship ranges entirely into the 5’’+ category, leaving anything below for the rest for their so-named “Mini” devices (which would be considered large 2 years ago!).

4’’ Galaxy S3 Mini (left) compared to 5’’ Galaxy S4.

I think it’s fair to say that once you’ve got used to using a larger device, it’s hard to go back to a smaller one. Screen technology is certainly evolving quickly… but when do you think that enough is enough? Some people would have it stop at 6’’ … but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with going a little big bigger!

What do you think about phone size – are flagship phones getting too big?! Let us know!


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