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A reason why the iPhone display may stay at 3.5"

0. phoneArena 31 Oct 2011, 19:58 posted on

Many complain that the iPhone display needs to get bigger, but there is a very specific Steve Jobsian reason why the display is 3.5 inches, and it's a reason why the phone may stay that way...

This is a discussion for a news. To read the whole news, click here

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 20:57 2

31. earle.evans (Posts: 27; Member since: 07 Mar 2010)


What is the possibility that due to the size of the phone overall, the placement of palm restricts the distance the thumb can travel? Thus, a phone that is not just larger in screen, but in size overall could conceivably limit how far your thumb could come over the top.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 14:43

147. vette21man (Posts: 351; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)


Perfectly agree, unless you are the "I'm just asking for my phone to fall and crack" crowd that walks while balancing a larger phone on your fingers to allow extra thumb reach.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 20:18

5. som (Posts: 768; Member since: 10 Nov 2009)


An example on a baby thumb is for iPhone and adult thumb is for Galaxy S II.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 20:24 11

6. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


1)this news is old.. quit slouching!! lol

2) even on the "mock up" the circles are not the same. They are about the same radius from edge to screen, but top to bottom they are obviously difffent with the iphone having the LARGER radius.

This was done by someone with a personal preference, not a point to prove.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 20:30 2

10. maxican16 (Posts: 363; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)


I am beginning to wonder why I continue to come to this site for an unbiased approach to mobile phone journalism.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 20:42 2

19. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2649; Member since: 26 May 2011)


It's old news, but something we hadn't posted here before, and it adds an interesting element to the argument. It's definitely the kind of detail that Jobs would push for.

Of course, no one in the comments seems to understand the term "average", because we just keep seeing the same "well MY thumb is long enough for a 4.3" screen, so obviously EVERYONE must be the same as ME."

Ugh...

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 20:47

24. maxican16 (Posts: 363; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)


Not at all, but who holds their phone at the very base of their thumb? When I hold my phone it rests on my fingers, allowing my thumb to reach the full extent of the screen.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 20:51

27. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2649; Member since: 26 May 2011)


yeah, i covered this below.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 14:48

148. vette21man (Posts: 351; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)


Actually the drawing is spot on.

Because the SGSII is wider. When gripping the phone, usually your fingers are on the far edge of the device, and your palm curls around the other end. Your thumb can't curl as easy around a wider device. Therefore, your thumb doesn't have as much room to freely rotate as much as a less-wide device allows.

Unless you attempt balancing the device on your finger tips, thus increasing thumb rotation and reach. This is hardly practical when walking.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 20:25

7. iankellogg (Posts: 155; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)


Hey man, it isn't big enough unless you can get two hands on it.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 20:43 3

20. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2649; Member since: 26 May 2011)


I can't believe it took this long to get that kind of comment. I had to be so careful while writing to not use awkward phrasing.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 20:52 6

28. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


thats what she said :)

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:16 2

46. biophone (Posts: 1893; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)


Everytime there is a discussion on size there is bound to be a remixfa comment thats what she said : ). I would like to meet this woman who says all these things.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:17 5

47. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


you dont know taco's mom?

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:24 3

54. biophone (Posts: 1893; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)


We should all hold tacos mom in high esteem for dealing with such a vocal son

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:34 2

63. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


im sure she locks him in the basement while he watches blue elf porn.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:39 2

69. biophone (Posts: 1893; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)


Hey there is nothing wrong with elf porn:)
Lol

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 23:16

86. squallz506 (banned) (Posts: 1075; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)


+10 bajillion OMGROFLMAO

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 00:13

91. NVPMOTHAF (Posts: 78; Member since: 28 Sep 2011)


That's the funniest thing I've read thus far

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 20:27 2

8. maxican16 (Posts: 363; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)


The problem with the mockup above, is that it assumes you place your phone at the base of your thumb. I have a 4.3" screen, and can reach every corner of the screen without problem. Did the author even attempt to validate the mockup at all?

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 20:47 4

23. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2649; Member since: 26 May 2011)


Have you done the full work needed to disprove this? It's AVERAGE hand size, so just your hand and the way you hold it isn't enough. People with smaller hands need to hold the entire phone deeper into the palm, which means closer to having your thumb at the side of the phone. Those of us with bigger hands, or better dexterity can hold the phone more on our fingers, and therefore will be able to reach a larger area of the screen.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:01 3

37. maxican16 (Posts: 363; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)


And so because some guy drew a mockup, I have to actually do work to disprove it? A little detective work and an UNBIASED approach is all I'm asking for. Instead we get another biased point of view (as evidenced by the inaccurate mockup) that shouldn't have made it past a journalist's edit.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:08 5

42. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2649; Member since: 26 May 2011)


You have no responsibility until the moment you decide it's necessary to call BS on it. At that point, you need a better argument than just "it works for me".

I felt this was worth posting, because regardless of if the specifics are completely accurate, it is a good illustration of the types of details that often drove the design decisions from Steve Jobs' point of view. So, if it turns out to be true, it provides an interesting insight into why Apple designed it's products as it has, and why it hasn't changed that design.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:34 2

62. maxican16 (Posts: 363; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)


Initially I gave my perspective, yes. But the second point remains.. the mockup is inaccurate and biased.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:37 2

66. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2649; Member since: 26 May 2011)


The mockup may be inaccurate, but that doesn't prove bias, and it also doesn't prove that the idea behind the mockup is incorrect either.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:53 1

72. maxican16 (Posts: 363; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)


Nor does it prove it is correct, and the fact that it is most assuredly an inaccurate mockup certainly doesn't lend credence to it. Correct or not, if the next i*hone comes out with the same screen size, many people will view it as a big let down.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 22:10 1

77. maxican16 (Posts: 363; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)


And I disagree, the very fact that it's inaccurate proves the mockup is biased.

posted on 02 Nov 2011, 01:14

161. jazzman11 (Posts: 2; Member since: 01 Nov 2011)


It works for me :) and that's all I need to know

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:07 4

41. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


just out of curiosity.. what is "average"? average male? average female? average combined? and what is that "average"measurement.

Just going by the last few polls here where the large majority in one poll said that the screen was the biggest issue to be fixed, and then in another poll voted the large screen android phones the next likely purpose by nearly 90% says that the "average" hand its quite fine with a 4+ inch screen.

That last poll had what.. 4000-5000 votes in it before it closed? Thats more than most national political surveys by far and well more than the average poll quoted by PA or other sites. So as far as validity from the sample size goes, it was quite valid. So thumb swipe size or not, screen size is more important than "1 handing" it all the time.

Just as a validation, medically I use a "large" surgical glove.. which is pretty average for a male to use. Ive seen more "XL" gloves pulled for males than "Medium" gloves.. so its a fair assumption to say that the "large" glove size is the male adult average.
Most of us know that I use a Tmobile Vibrant 3g as my main phone. Holding it in my hand right now, i can make a comfortable swiping motion from the home button, across to the far side bezel, and up to where the reciever speaker is. Concidering I can "Swype" comfortably one handed, Id say thats a pretty fair screen size for me. This would be my ideal comfort 1 handed phone at 4 inches (technically, whatever the phone diagonal spec is since i can 1 hand most all of it) My max screen size that i KNOW im comfortable one handing is 4.3 with the current phone configurations. The Tmobile Hercules 4.52inch is definitely stretching it for me for any type of one handed use.. thats a guaranteed 2 hander for me..

So just off of my own assessments, off of the polls that have been on PA and elsewhere, and life experience, I would have to say that the 4 inch screen size is going to be most people's "sweet spot" between size and function.

The trick is also not the screen size itself but the size of the actual phone. The SGS1 as a reference, if it were all screen it would be around 5 inches and i could still one hand 85% of it. The 3.5 screen on the iphone is small because they lack the technology to increase the screen size without losing the "retina" moniker, not because of "thumb size".
Knowing SJ's reputation, he was more held back by the possibility of losing 1 PPI in pixel density more than he was about keeping the same size phone and increasing the screen size.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:10 1

43. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2649; Member since: 26 May 2011)


I would assume "average" means average human hand, meaning male and female. I'd also assume that any poll we've run didn't have many females voting in it, which would push our average hand size bigger.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:18 1

48. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


still doesnt answer the question on what exactly IS the average hand. its a very vague notion.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:24 3

53. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


"The average length of an adult male hand is 189 mm, while the average length of an adult female hand is 172 mm. The average hand breadth for adult males and females is 84 and 74 mm respectively.[7]"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hand

From wikipedia.. which isnt the greatest of sources.. but it should be OK for this type of thing.

I just measured my hand.. its 183mm, so technically, im ever so slightly below average for a male. (man i feel emasculated now!)

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:31

59. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


out of curiosity, did you read my entire blurb or just "taco" it and read the first few lines? you didnt make mention of any of the other points i brought up. :)

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:34 1

65. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2649; Member since: 26 May 2011)


As I said in other comments, I wouldn't put too much stock in polls run by tech websites, because they tend to be overrun with men, who have larger hands on average, and not so many ladies.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:39 1

68. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


lol.. so thats a no? :(

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 22:03

74. biophone (Posts: 1893; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)


I read it but didnt feel the need to. Address the things i agreed with

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 01:15 2

101. Ivan6479 (Posts: 243; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)


For a writer that isn't trying to be bias you sure are assuming quite allot and you know what they say about people that like to assume.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:18

49. biophone (Posts: 1893; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)


That was a survey done based on convience so its not valif. It needs to be stratified for the results to be accurate

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:26 1

56. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


its just as accurate as a phone number generator randomly calling people.

There is no basis other than "you dont like what you hear" to say all the people voting had one OS preference or another. I would give a slight advantage to android obviously since it sells more.. but even if you go off of current market stats which has Apple at around 20% of the world market (so say 20% of the voters were iOS users).. that still means that half of the iOS users that voted intend to dump iOS for android since less than 10% of those polled said they would take the i4s over the other choices.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:31

60. biophone (Posts: 1893; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)


Im just saying the only people who answered the poll where phone enthusiats because their on pa. Therefore everyone who took that survey wast a random set of people which you need for a good survey. Its like going to a car site and asking do you like stick shift. Those responses wont reflect the genereal population. There is different types of surveys cluster statrified convience and so on. Convience is the least accurate so take it at face value. Dont read to much into to it.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:38 2

67. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


no, i totally get your point, and your right. But even giving the thing a wide margin of error and a few DoF, its still beyond anything that a group of "android" only people could do at that sample size. If we were talking a hundred or 3, I'd say dump it.. but at multiple thousands from random hits all around the world, its going to have an accuracy to it.. obviously not pinpoint, but an accuracy none the less.

That poll wasnt just made up of the 20-50 people that populate the boards.. it was made up of anyone and everyone that stumbled on the site from around the world. We are jaded to think we are the majority when in truth the silent majority over rules us like crazy... like 70 to 1. (3500 poll respondents vs 50 assumed ACTIVE board members)

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:43 2

71. biophone (Posts: 1893; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)


I agree there is some accuracy to the polls thats not what i am saying but its certaintly not 100% accurate. If you really want a good survey it takes alot of work. And multiple questions too. Not just one question you post on a phone site. Thats certiantly not conclusive.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 20:29 1

9. Penny (Posts: 1096; Member since: 04 Feb 2011)


Interesting article, and I have thought about this myself. From a strictly user-centered design perspective, the obsessive side of Steve Jobs would be right on this one. Products should be created in a manner that affords ease of use, and a key affordance of a touch-screen device is that the user be able to touch any spot on the screen with his/her available finger.

Of course, personal preference trumps logic in many circumstances. While the smaller screen size is technically the efficient way to go, many users would and do sacrifice some ease of use in exchange for a better experience in videos, browsing, and games. Personally, my hand works well with 3.7" - 4.0" phones. I watch very few videos on it, but I do pass some time playing games and browsing once in a while. I wouldn't want to step down to a 3.5" screen at this point, but I am interested enough in ease of use to not go into the 4.3" range (at this point, things might change when that's all that manufacturers offer).

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 20:48 1

25. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2649; Member since: 26 May 2011)


Personal preference trumps logic when there is available choice. Apple isn't going to offer choice, so it has to aim for what will appeal to the majority of people.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 00:06 1

90. Penny (Posts: 1096; Member since: 04 Feb 2011)


I wouldn't disagree with that. I think Apple will compromise between what it feels to be the most efficient (about 3.5") and what it feels will satisfy consumer's objectives (media, games) to give a solution for the masses. I don't see it being bigger than 4", as that would be difficult to justify from a usability standpoint (using the logic from your article), and I don't see it being less than 3.7", as that would potentially reduce the marketability of the product. I put my money on 3.9"-ish.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 20:32 2

11. handsomehwang (Posts: 6; Member since: 05 Jul 2011)


who cares if it's not the same size semi circle. a quarter of the semi circle on the iphone's semi circle isn't even on the screen. honestly though i have an iphone and it's still impossible to type with just one hand without holding it in an unnatural way. 3.5 seems fine although 4 would have been better.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 20:35 1

14. maxican16 (Posts: 363; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)


Try swype.. allows one-handed typing on a larger screen without sacrificing speed or accuracy. Of course, not an option on iOS.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 20:43 1

21. handsomehwang (Posts: 6; Member since: 05 Jul 2011)


i have had an android phone. i know what swype is. you still have to hold it towards the bottom if you want to swype or tap away.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 20:33 2

12. Luuthian (Posts: 201; Member since: 09 Sep 2011)


This is a ridiculous fear IMO. I've been using a 4" Focus for a year now and never once have I felt I needed a second hand to casually use the device. That mock up is deceptive at best, as no one holds their phone the same way, nor are all hands the same size. I know my hands aren't anywhere near as large as some, but 4" hasn't even phased me.

I can see this beginning to form a concern on 4.5" sets, but 4" to 4.3" are fine, with 4" being the sweet spot IMO.

The smaller screen is one of the few places where I think Apple is falling behind on their device, especially because the handheld has become so gaming centric. There's also the fact Apple is still using outdated LCD tech. Yes it has plenty of pixels... So does AMOLED, which many are moving on to. If I'm paying a premium for my phone, you'd figure I'd be getting premium tech. Instead you get some nice old fragile glass.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 20:50

26. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2649; Member since: 26 May 2011)


As I've said above, this is your personal preference. Apple limits its models, so it has to aim for what most people will be comfortable with.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 20:40 1

18. alecgale (Posts: 55; Member since: 29 Jun 2011)


i used to have an Ipod touch which is 3.7" and the keyboard on that was too small i would never get an iphone at its current size

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 14:58 1

149. vette21man (Posts: 351; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)


Slight correction: the iPod Touch (and iPhone) have never had a screen size other than 3.5".

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 20:53 1

29. Leodrade (Posts: 87; Member since: 26 Aug 2011)


if the photo represents a the real size of both phones and the green arc represents the real measure a regular thumb can reach, either i have enormous thumbs or the photos are completely wrong

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 20:59 1

33. Stoli89 (Posts: 333; Member since: 28 Jun 2010)


Of course, if the screen dimensions were increased without a corresponding increase in Pixels Per Inch, the famed "Retina" trademark would be put in jeopardy as well. Maybe this too could be a motivation for maintaining 3.5?

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 01:13 1

99. Penny (Posts: 1096; Member since: 04 Feb 2011)


Yeah, it probably was a consideration. If I were a manufacturer using a specific resolution on a specific screen size, I'd wait until I could increase the screen size while maintaining the same aspect ratio and a multiple of the resolution I had before. That consistency with the aspect ratio and resolution would be a key factor in making it easier for developers to update and release apps.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:04 1

39. taco50 (banned) (Posts: 5506; Member since: 08 Oct 2009)


Steve Jobs is a very smart man. He knows consumers don't know what they want and need to be taught.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:11 6

44. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


bahahahahh

thanks taco..

you just called yourself an idiot... and every other iphone user. you just said that YOU were too dumb to know what YOU want and you need some billionaire stranger to DECIDE FOR YOU what YOU need to think is IMPORTANT.

omg.. true'er words have never been spoken.. lolololololl

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:25 1

55. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2649; Member since: 26 May 2011)


Apple products have been popular for a reason, and most say that reason is the design. Steve didn't design the products, but he had final say on what things were made and how, so ultimately many design choices were his choice. It's hard to push Taco's comment to cover everyone, but it does cover quite a few people.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:29 5

58. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


sorry, but any ADULT that agrees that a man.. a complete stranger.. knows better than what that person knows, as far as what they want (unless there was an extenuating circumstance like mental retardation), is a complete idiot. PERIOD.

I have very intelligent friends that chose iOS for very specific reasons. They dont fall into that category... but everyone that taco is lumping with him, obviously does.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:40 3

70. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2649; Member since: 26 May 2011)


If you don't agree that any man can know better what someone else will want, then we might as well destroy the entire design field as a whole, because that's their job. Many people can't articulate why they do or don't like something, so we train designers to figure it out and create things that we like

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