3 Reasons We Need a Bigger iPhone and 3 Reasons We Don’t

Lost amid all the chatter is the real question: Do we really need a bigger iPhone?

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Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was working on bigger iPhones. Though the article was filled with qualifiers (“preliminary development”), hedges (“cautioned that Apple’s plans weren’t final”) and vague sources (“people familiar with the situation”), the Internet marched dutifully to their Twitter accounts and sounded off on the official (read: totally speculative) news. The consensus was grim. Apple — the stubborn, desperate, slow-moving gadget-maker — was finally, finally coming to its senses. After years of floundering, here was the dying company’s last chance to save a doomed product line.

Unfortunately, the Internet forgot about two things: First, that Apple is still doing just fine. For every one nugget of ordinary news (ex: iPhone sales growth in U.S. missing “analysts” wild expectations), the company has three pieces of great news (ex: iPad sales, international expansion, overall revenue). Second, the Internet forgot that these bigger iPhones are, as of yet, nothing more than rumors. All we know is that some people claimed Apple had been experimenting internally with new iPhone sizes. You know, the same way it was experimenting with smartwatches and full-sized TVs.

And so, lost amid all the chatter is the real question: Do we really need a bigger iPhone? Here are three reasons why we do…and three reasons we don’t.

3 Reasons We Need a Bigger iPhone

1. Apple’s top rivals have all gone big

Stroll over to your local Best Buy (before it goes bankrupt) and observe the crop of featured smartphones, from HTC to LG, Samsung to Sony. Like that 37-inch Panasonic TV you bought in 2009, the iPhone will appear puny next to today’s popular alternatives.

Perhaps it’s telling that the 4-inch phones not named “iPhone” get thrown in a discount bin by the door. Maybe Samsung knew bigger was better when it chose the name “Galaxy.” What if Apple’s gotten screen size all wrong, losing curious customers reluctant to purchase a smaller device? A bigger iPhone would answer these questions.

2. History seems to indicate bigger screens are better

We assessed over 600 smartphones using a combination of expert reviews (45%), benchmarks (35%), and features (20%) to come up with a single score out of 100, which we call the Smart Rating. We then plotted this score against screen size. It turns out that there is a moderately positive correlation (0.69) between a phone’s screen size and overall Smart Rating. (The green, yellow, and red dots indicate high-, average-, and low-scoring phones, respectively.)

Granted, it’s not a perfect test — the newest phones are on the larger side, and naturally, these devices have the best internal specs and benchmark scores. There seems, however, to be at least some indication that a larger screen increases the likelihood of a favorable expert review (the correlation held when plotting screen size against the individual scores from CNET, PCWorld and PC Magazine). On these charts, Apple’s 3.5- and 4-inch iPhones are the exception, not the rule.

3. Apple has made this move (successfully) before

For two and a half years, Apple laughed at 7-inch tablets while its 9.7-inch iPad dominated the market. “We think the 10-inch screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps,” declared Steve Jobs on a 2010 earnings call. Competitors then gained traction with the cheaper, smaller Galaxy Tab and Nexus 7, compact iPad alternatives that garnered solid reviews and respectable chunks of the market. The rest is history: Apple changed its mind, released the iPad Mini, and then convinced everyone it had planned it from the beginning. The Mini was a hit from the day of its release. Perhaps Apple should have been making a smaller iPad all along.

Could the same be true of the iPhone? In a 2012 commercial, Apple called its 4-inch screen size a “dazzling display of common sense,” but perhaps that was just posturing. A year from now, maybe we’ll all be watching Apple’s latest spot — “Think Bigger” — on our 5-inch iPhone 6Cs.

3 Reasons We Don’t Need a Bigger iPhone

1. Are users really asking for this?

Go back and plot screen size against user ratings, and you won’t see the same positive correlation. The Internet tends to assume that Apple must make a bigger phone. But why? After years of use, iPhone owners tend to be happy customers, even with 3.5- and 4-inch screens. Do they not know what they’re missing? Or is the Internet creating a controversy that never existed in the first place?

2. What about apps and developers?

People love to demand iPhones of all shapes and sizes, with screens at 4-, 5-, and 6-inch intervals, and aspect ratios from 4:3 to 16:9. This sort of variety might work for a company like Samsung, whose strategy involves pumping out two dozen devices to see what sticks. Apple, however, differentiates itself on consistency of user experience — with over 80% of users on the latest operating system, and an app store more reliable (and more restrictive) than its competitors.

Why does this matter? All those iPhones would require different resolutions, meaning more headaches for developers and more hack-like solutions for running apps. Want to play Angry Birds Space on your new 4:3, 5-inch iPhone? Sorry: you’ll need to wait until Rovio optimizes for that version.

Apple might like the idea of having a few more iPhone size options, but don’t underestimate the value the company places on consistency — of apps, aspect ratios, and display resolution. It’s what keeps both customers and developers happy.

3. Apple already owns its market

All last summer, the Internet was convinced that Apple would release a true “low-cost” iPhone. Instead, Apple introduced the iPhone 5c, a plastic re-design of the iPhone 5, priced only $100 cheaper than the flagship iPhone 5s. “But Apple’s missing a huge opportunity! What about China?!” the Internet sobbed.

When it comes to price, Apple has shown a bit of flexibility (ex: two-year-old phones come free with a contract), but it’s mostly stuck to its sweet spot, “affordable luxury.” While Apple could temporarily increase its bottom line with a dirt cheap iPhone, the company prefers to own the higher end of the market — it’s what it does best, after all.

Perhaps size is the same. When we see the iPhone next to its galaxy-sized competitors, we assume Apple is lagging behind…but maybe it’s right where it needs to be. It’s possible that the iPhone’s top competitors are all bigger because bigger is better. Or maybe it’s simply because no one does the 4-inch phone better than Apple.

This article was written for TIME by Ben Taylor of FindTheBest.

27 comments
famulla555555
famulla555555

The deadline for nominating candidates for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize is today. Sadly, the Switch isn't eligible to formally nominate candidates. But if we were, we'd recommend Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates.

During his years in business, Bill Gates was a polarizing figure. Critics charged that his business practices, especially his ruthless treatment of the upstart Netscape browser, were harming innovation on the Internet. But since Gates left Microsoft in 2008, his philanthropy has attracted universal acclaim.

Gates now manages the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world's largest charitable foundation. In 2006, Gates persuaded Warren Buffett to donate $31 billion to it, doubling its financial resources.

In addition to vast resources, Gates has also used the logistical and managerial talents he honed at Microsoft to spend them more effectively. He has leveraged the fame and connections developed over three decades of running Microsoft to persuade the world leaders to tackle some of the world's toughest and most important problems.

famulla555555
famulla555555

FROM INDIA BUT VALID IN ALL PLACES A couple of years ago, a group of feminists got together at Barnard College to discuss ways of raising funding for the work put in by feminist bloggers and writers on the internet.


Courtney Martin and Vanessa Valenti, the conveners of the meeting , said that their objective was to provide a greater voice to minorities . "Women of colour and other groups are already overlooked for adequate media attention and already struggle disproportionately in this culture of scarcity," they wrote.
On the face of it, Courtney and Valenti's objective seems well intentioned."They weren't prepared , though, for the wave of coruscating anger and contempt that greeted their work. Online, the Barnard group - nine of whom were women of colour - was savaged as a cabal of white opportunists... There was fury expressed on behalf of everyone whose concerns were not explicitly addressed," writes Michelle Goldberg at TheNation. com.

peabody3000
peabody3000

millions of people will believe a 4 inch screen is the perfect size for as long as apple tells them it is

elmken
elmken

No mention of the new Xperia Z1 Compact? High specs in a small size Android. It beat the iPhone to become the #1 selling smartphone in Japan, and it is just now being released in Europe to rave reviews.


There is definitely a market for small flagship phones, it's just Apple has been the only one making them. Still a strong market there. For their iPhone 6 Apple should definitely release both a small and a big one.

dcornibe
dcornibe

Don't forget Reason #4 for not increasing size: There's already a slew of accessories out there, docks, etc., designed to fit the 4-inch iPhones.  Now, of course, since Apple ditched the older docking port in favor of the Lightning port, those accessories are pretty much obsolete anyway in terms of direct docking ability.


Reason #4 to increase size would be to make it easier to type.  I find on my Motorola DROID RAZR M (also 4 inches), for example, that I'm mistyping quite a bit.

samirshah
samirshah

Apple has  done this before and all competitors are doing this are the most important reasons for a bigger phone.


App developers should develop for 16:9 aspect ratio rather than doing it by pixel counts.


leofoss
leofoss

One issue not mentioned is that practically everyone in the world over 40 needs eyeglasses, and most of them can't read small print without glasses, notwithstanding that they don't wear glasses except when forced to.  You don't need to read to answer your phone, but you may need glasses to read small print on it.

I suspect the majority of smartphone users are under 40, but there is an increasing number of Apple iPhone users who can't read the print on small smartphones without glasses, and who would appreciate a larger screen size.  Each year the number of older people using smartphones increases, and the pressure for a larger screen size will continue to increase accordingly.

BenjaminNeuells
BenjaminNeuells

Nobody is saying Asian and African countries need Diversity.

So why are they saying only White countries need Diversity?

That's because "anti-racists" only have a problem with White people.

Because "anti-racists" want a world without White children.

Anti-racist is a codeword for Anti-White. Diversity is a codeword for White Genocide.

AmundsenWI
AmundsenWI

I have a Note 3, and I must admit, I will NEVER go to a smaller phone - ever. But I recognize, it's too big for some people....


....that's what she said. 

Tebob2
Tebob2

YES! We need a bigger iPhone for multiple reasons! I am Apple everything, make a living on the iPhone and computers but if we don't get a bigger iPhone soon I must cross over to "the dark side"….. enough! Give us a bigger screen! 

elizjamison
elizjamison

I will say this: I love my LG - E970, but man, it's too bulky to fit in my pocket! And it's heavy. I certainly love the big screen, though - - especially when I have to surf the web. Great quality. 


Elizabeth

www.writewordediting.com

www.dissertationgal.com

gorks4yes
gorks4yes

You don't know what you're missing with a 4" screen, until you have a larger one.  But once you have a larger screen, your eyes will thank you, and your patience no longer tested.  If you build it, they will love it, anyway.

EdwardWPWW
EdwardWPWW

ASIA FOR THE ASIANS, AFRICA FOR THE AFRICANS, WHITE COUNTRIES FOR EVERYBODY!
The words “immigration”, “tolerance” and “assimilation” are being used to PROMOTE a program of geNOcide against White children.
-
According to International Law, open borders, FORCED integration, and assimilation is GENOCIDE.
Except they don’t call it GENOCIDE when it’s done to White children.
Then they call it “multiculturalism”
STOP WHITE GENOCIDE!
Anti-racist is a codeword for anti-White

AishasOasis
AishasOasis

I use a galaxy tab2 (it's awesome!) With wifi / dsl and our local telephone station crashed in a rainstorm. This is Egypt, nothing fixes fast, so I got a data plan asap from vodaphone for my iPhone because I needed to meet a deadline for a post. It took three hours of time sucking teeth gnashing to accomplish a five minute operation on that blasted tiny screen! Nobody can handle that when they've used a bigger screen... I believe samsung got it right

chadg_77
chadg_77

Yes, Apple currently owns the market, but talk to Blackberry about what a lack of updating your screen can do to business. Why I do agree Apple creates word class products, you need to give the people what they want. Having at least an option for a larger screen is a necessity, and I would be very surprised if they don't roll out a larger screen for the next generation. 

JeanGray96
JeanGray96

Personally, I like the size of the current iPhone. I recently got a 5c to replace a 4s and honestly have no opinion one way or the other on the larger screen size. I was happy with the 4s. Of course, I don't watch much in the way of video on my phone, using it for mostly phone calls, some light social media interaction, maps and games. What I love about the iPhone is that it will still fit in my pocket. As a woman, those mega phones would not fit in my pocket (I am a rare woman who dislikes carrying a purse) and would require two hands to probably do everything. For some folks, they use their phone more like a tablet, and the larger screen makes sense. Just as the iPad mini makes sense for something relatively easy to carry around with you. My iPad is too big to lug around on a daily basis, but great for travel rather than bringing the laptop. There are different niches and Apple has so far decided they like their niche. Kind of like them not offering computers under $1000.

toddinbmore
toddinbmore

If you need readers the larger screen makes sense.  I suspect that Apple will release a larger screen version and charge richly for it (much like they do memory: $100 for each increment of 16 gig is robbery.) In truth a larger screen version could cost them less to make:  less miniaturization or re-using the internals of the current phone would be cheaper to make and/or develop.

brian_st
brian_st

Isn't the obvious question here: why does there have to be only one size of iPhone?

You argue that Apple can't handle all sizes and shapes.... odd, the rest of the world handles it just find.

But regardless, would it kill them to handle, say 3 sizes?


edmundcharles.55
edmundcharles.55

@dcornibe  


An option may be to keep the existing 4" size and also one or two other larger iPhone sizes.  Personally,  a size beyond 5" does get beyond a size that easily fits one hand and for those people whose hands are small, the Godzilla sized models are not attractive.  For the iPhone 6, Apple needs to do more than just make a 'bigger' model, amazing new features need to be added along with a self-charging system.  Water-proofing would also be a nice option.

Bullsgt
Bullsgt

@EdwardWPWW What does your rant have to do with the article? You are pathetic.

edmundcharles.55
edmundcharles.55

@chadg_77  


A point very  well taken into consideration.  However, Blackberry failed to react to a sea-change in new technology and not merely a new product size.   Microsoft also missed the boat on smart phones and relinquished the lead role to Google, an Internet advertising giant.  Blackberry might have survived in its own special product niche if it had reacted faster to a new design which incorporated more smart phone features and a larger screen  into its design.  A lot of users love the product, however, the technological tide against it were so overwhelming that its very survival as a viable company is in doubt.

MikeSnoow
MikeSnoow

@chadg_77  


world class in which world do u live in.  iphone is highly lacking

the otherday in the subway i showed my nexus 4 phone to an iphone5s user and he couldnt believe his phone didnt have any of the features

edmundcharles.55
edmundcharles.55

@JeanGray96  


I concur-  there is no 'one size fits all' smart phone.    A small phone is nice and portable, it fits easily into my shirt and blazer pockets, something I cannot say for a 6" monster phone.