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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, 22:03 5

75. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

A designer or group of designers targets 1 or 2 segments of a population with their design It is a rarity that any 1 design is supposed to be for EVERYONE.

ESPECIALLY in electronics. Can you think of a single TV that fits everyone? A radio? Speakers? game console? Most definitely not a cell phone.

Can a device be desinged for "general population"? absolutely. Thats not what I'm taking issue with.. My issue is COMPLETELY with what TaCo said

"He knows consumers don't know what they want and need to be taught."

Now, i KNOW that taco actually believes this BS. But ONLY an EGOMANIAC would even concider the possibility that he knows better than the rest of the planet, and he is going to design something that he has to TEACH the planet to appreciate.

And only a complete IDIOT would take that sentiment as fact, hold the product in their hands and go "yea, i agree, i needed to be taught by steve jobs to enjoy this product, as I lack the mental capacity to do so on my own", as taco just did.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 01:02

98. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2701; Member since: 26 May 2011)

Maybe it's because I'm reading the Jobs bio, but I didn't jump to the conclusion that Taco actually believes that. I assumed he was referencing what Steve Jobs himself believed. From what I've read, Steve had an egomania streak in him, but that doesn't detract from any of his skills or accomplishments. He legitimately thought that he had better taste than almost anyone on earth, and he had to show them what was the best by creating it for them.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 01:36 1

104. Penny (Posts: 1647; Member since: 04 Feb 2011)

@ Remixfa,

First of all, not agreeing with Taco here. I think it's pretty clear that he was just trying to mess with people with that comment.

But on the point of the designers, I have to make the point that there is a lot more to product design than trying to appeal to preferences within certain market segments. Part of product design is also engineering the product to be as usable as possible, which is more of a science than you give it credit for. Everything matters: button placement, simplicity (often by limiting options), feedback (how quickly the action occurs after you have pressed the button), physical form, etc. These are all factors that drive product design, and mostly things that consumers don't think about. So if a competent designer engineers the product to satisfy usability in these and other categories, the consumer will probably be happy with the product even if it doesn't otherwise satisfy all of his personal preferences.

A lot of what I glean about product design comes from books like "The Design of Everyday Things" by Donald Norman. Highly recommend you check it out.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 06:55 1

119. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

having dealt with taco as long as i have, i think he ment his little comment. he has made similar ones before.

as far as the rest, going back to my main point, i doubt 3.5inches had anything to do with thumb placement as 4 inches in today's configuration are the sweet spot for most concidering the "average" sized hand. I'd bet the farm it had more to do with the "retina display" moniker and not wanting to lose a single PPI in making the screen bigger. Jobs was not one to give up features he liked easily, and the retina display was arguably the biggest thing about the i4.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 08:47 2

129. robinrisk (unregistered)

Actually, i think taco's right. Henry Ford said one time: "If i had asked people what they needed, they would have said faster horses".

The truth is that a visionary, given its name, can envision what people need, and actually offer it to them before they even know it.

So in that particular sense, companies actually know more about consumer needs than the consumer itself.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 10:29 2

131. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

that is true if your inventing a whole new class of product. the car was new.. no one knew about the car. this is a smartphone among smartphones we are talking about. Apple hasnt invented any new categories, they have just expanded in existing ones.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:27 4

57. maxican16 (Posts: 364; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)

Fell right into that one, he did.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 21:22

51. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2701; Member since: 26 May 2011)

Ha! You have been reading the bio haven't you? It's hard to argue that notion after reading some of these stories.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 22:28 1

79. belovedson (Posts: 986; Member since: 30 Nov 2010)

If an iPhone came in two versions at the same price range with similar specs for the screen

one having 3.5 inch
another having 4.0 inches

i can't guarantee but most will choose the 4 inch screen.
it doesn't matter what screen fits which hand better.

yes its true consumers really don't any education on what they want. i mean apple buyers will spend 500 dollars on a 189 dollar product?! Case in point.

either way without the option available to iphone users we will never be able to test my theory. Either way if you present two items with similar specs. Most people will take more for your money in this case a 4.0 mythical iphone over a 3.5 inch.

The fact that apple users do not have that option and there deep and kind of scary allegiance to apple products doesn’t help matters. They let their mouths answer for their brans.

Most apple user will defend their purchase by harping on how great their screens are. In reality there’s hardly a difference between clarity of the font, honestly when a user has time to compare or are unbiased. The difference is negligible and unworthy of being a strength factor. If you look at my phones owned I tested a lot of different phones. I still own an iphone 4.

I am confident if people asked for the option of a bigger screen and the price was same as the 3.5, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be. People would pick the 4.0, again I can’t guarantee but if I could I would. I would bet the house on it.

Now the statement by taco is kind of ironic. Steve Jobs was an arrogant man. He is essentially questioning the intelligence of the consumers. I think it’s hilarious many uses Steve’s excuses as grounds to defend a product. Examples of this are the retina screen. Retina screen this retina screen that…. seriously retina is not new. But then again I am talking to people who purchase a 700 dollar ipad to play scrabble. I work at a place where I see plenty of those.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 01:23 2

102. Ivan6479 (Posts: 249; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)

Correction taco50, as Mr. Jobs is no longer with us, so "he was a smart man" not "is a smart man". Why don't you just keep showing everyone what an iTard you truly are. When referring to someone that is no longer with us one should always use the past tense. You should know this well seeing how you are still in grade school and what not. Lol iTard

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 22:07 2

76. belovedson (Posts: 986; Member since: 30 Nov 2010)

here's a simple method to see what's better

a 4.3 inch android phone and a 3.5 inch iphone

let a person use both phones for about a month or longer

let the person decide which to use.

i tried my test despite my small mid sized hand I will not go back to anything smaller than 4 inch screen

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 22:18 2

78. roldefol (Posts: 4107; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)

There's a very basic problem with this argument though. While I can accept that there's an average acceptable WIDTH for a screen - and on the iPhone it's around 2" - it ignores the fact that screen HEIGHT can change and has changed. The Droid's 3.7" screen is actually a bit narrower than the iPhone, but because it's a true 16:9, it has a longer diagonal. If Apple moved away from the 3:2 (13.5:9) ratio they've been using for the last 4 years and stretched the screen to 16:9, they could fit a 4" screen on the current iPhone footprint. The Motorola Atrix and EVO Design are two examples of how they might increase the screen size while keeping the same thumb sweep.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 22:32 2

81. belovedson (Posts: 986; Member since: 30 Nov 2010)

i dont think apple figured this in the immediate future. we will find out for sure when the iphone 5 comes out.

i doubt they have a reasonable way of expanding the dimensions of the software that's vital to the changes to a 16:9 format. android finally found a solution with ice cream. apple has no solution.

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 22:44 1

82. ps316 (Posts: 19; Member since: 19 Oct 2010)

That's stupid excuse my hands are not that big, I would say small only but my thumb is still able to reach every corner of my Samsung Focus which is having 4" screen. I tried it on my friend SG2 and still able to reach all corners.
If they(iPhone) are targeting more kids then it is fine and we can say it is for kids only which in fact is true with same lame interface since its very beginning which is really easy for kids. :)

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 23:04 1

84. roscuthiii (Posts: 2204; Member since: 18 Jul 2010)

So, if the "one size fits all" and "we know better than you do, so do it our way" sentiments are true does that mean we can agree that Apple has fallen far away from their 1984 and "Think different" principles?

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 23:06 1

85. gemmabba (Posts: 51; Member since: 09 May 2011)

seriously why would i want to touch my proximity sensors or my earspeaker??? all i need is my thumb on my screen...and judging at the pictures, my choice goes to SGS II...thats all i need, my thumb on my screen.

shoot look at the iphone the thumb goes all the way to the bottom an the top of the phone LOL so stupid

posted on 31 Oct 2011, 23:27 1

89. ivanko34 (Posts: 617; Member since: 04 Sep 2011)

The screen should be even smaller as they are used mainly by women and children

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 15:10 1

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

I wish your trolling was funnier. Nobody even HATES your comment enough to give you a thumbs down because it is so non-value add. I will be the first, let's see if others follow.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 15:25 1

153. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

i lead more than i follow.. sorry. :)

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 00:33 1

93. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5711; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)

my Mom has a Droid Charge and she was a little intimidated with it at first but that passed, she likes it still, maybe a little jealous of my Droid 3's might but still retains pride in having 4G LTE and her 4.3" SA+ display. i think the iPhone should go to a 4.0" display and call it a day.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 00:37 4

94. Sniggly (Posts: 7305; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)

I personally think Motorola made great steps to make bigger screens that still solve the issue of ergonomics. I am a very average guy in every measurement except for being overweight. Make your jokes, they're true anyway. I've held phones like the Evo, and I'll agree that I can't hold them as comfortably in my palm due to their size. However, Motorola makes their phone screens with a 16:9 aspect ratio. This makes even the GIGANTOR DROID X fit comfortably in my palm, and my thumb can reach across the screen for one handed texting and such. Furthermore, the height of the screen allows for a more stretched out (and therefore roomy) keyboard in landscape. We've seen other phones like the HTC Sensation adopt the same aspect ratio as well.

Anyway, it's funny that while Jobs may have focused on a detail like thumb size, he and the design team failed to realize that the sharp corners created by the sides and front and back edges of the iPhone 4 and 4S make the phone less comfortable to hold in the hand.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 00:53 3

96. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5711; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)

true dat my fellow MotoFan! :D

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 15:16 2

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

As an iPhone 4 owner, I completely agree with your entire comment. I would even add to your last paragraph that it's difficult to hold on to the bare iPhone 4, due to no rubber or plastic to provide friction...the glass and steel is actually quite slippery. Granted, I do not use the phone without a Griffin rubber-sided case, which has been great for the past year...still your ergonomics (edge curvature) point is well taken.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 01:01

97. topkop (Posts: 2; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)

Doesn't make any sense. If Jobs cared about one-hand use so much, why introduced pinch-to-zoom? And one-handed typing (without swype) is obviously not going to be as fast as two-handed. A lot of games also require players to use both hands (even Angry Bird does). Reading articles on the net on a 3.5inch screen won't work unless you zoom in (back to pinch to zoom). So if you spend the majority of your phone time using two hands, why do you need to worry so much about the thumb reach?

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 01:42

105. saiki4116 (Posts: 379; Member since: 31 Mar 2011)

3.7" is the sweet spot maybe

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 15:47 1

155. roscuthiii (Posts: 2204; Member since: 18 Jul 2010)

That's crazy talk! It's 3.8".

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 01:57 1

106. goflet (Posts: 50; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)

why is the half circle on iphone is 1 cm bigger than samsung galaxy s2?

is there a divine intervention?

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 14:06

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

Because the SGSII is wider. When gripping the phone, usually your fingers are on the far end, 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 a thinner device allows.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 02:34 1

107. glentomas123 (Posts: 70; Member since: 01 Jun 2011)

What a farse. Lest we forget, the "great" Jobs told everyone that they were holding the iPhone 4 wrong during antenna gate. Meaning, it was NOT meant to be held against the palm area in the left hand: "avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band..."

Consequently, Jobs dictated that it was a two handed device. If Apple had stated that the iPhone 4 antenna placement was a design flaw, I could buy this article's argument; however, Jobs took the arrogant route and stated that "you're holding it wrong".

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 11:08

132. PotDragon (banned) (Posts: 214; Member since: 22 Jul 2011)

Thank you. I read every post waiting to see somone else say it first. Apparently the statement FROM STEVE JOBS about how to hold an iphone never reached the author. He is too busy defending his bias article with the photoshop pic.

Explain why you think an iphone is designed to be gripped one handed, michael.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 11:40

134. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

michael didnt write the article, it was a repost from another website.. he was just paraphrasing it.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 03:43

109. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)

There are just too many pluses of having the bigger screen.
Browsing, reading, watching photos and videos , even texting- all this naturally benefits from a bigger screen.
Many phones today have reached the ergonomics of pleasant usage of large screens, with their amazingly lightweight and thin construction.
For example, optimus 2x is a 4 incher that even most ladies can use comfortably.
Further, galaxy sII, with a 4.3 inch is both significantly lighter and thinner than the iPhone. Same goes for xperia arc.
It's a 16:9 screen with absolute joy of use - I've never heard any girl complaining about the size of my phone's screen.

Now, I think apple ditched larger size for now for a couple of reasons:
1) why to invest more into new design when they can sell sh!t loads of the same old?
2) their 4:3 screen ratio - the whole iOS is still built for that. Enlarging the screen for up to 4 inch would mean changing the aspect ratio.
Even the 3.7 inch screen with the current aspect would require a big(too big if you care only about profit, like apple) change in design- it would have to go really close to the edge of the phone.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 14:16

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

Agreed with most of your points.

Not sure it's really valid to say "I've never heard any girl complaining about the size of MY phone's screen."
They have maybe only used it for a brief moment. Maybe after using it for an extended time they would develop a different opinion. For example, my friend (who is a girl, not a girl friend :-P) had an EVO 4G with 4.3" display for a year. She constantly held it in her right hand, and she used her left index finger to navigate about the phone. Extremely inefficient and inaccurate if you ask me. She now has an iPhone 4S; she carried over the same navigation technique, but has since begun to just used her thumbs, and many times just one hand. There is something TO this smaller screen theory.

Small correction: the iPhone screen aspect ratio is not 4:3, it's actually 3:2.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 14:20

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

Your last points about why Apple ditched larger screen make me wonder:

How large can they make the display before they affect the overall size of the device?

And how large can they make the overall size of the device before it affects working with stereo docks and practical-sized workout arm bands?

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 14:33

145. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

screen technology is nearly bezel free. Samsung said that they will have edge to edge screens by 2012. Since Apple likes to stay on top of screen tech, I would assume they would have access to something similar for the i5. To reference your point, if you take the i4/i4s and get rid of that super sized bezel on the top and bottom, you have plenty of room to grow the screen. Just off the top of my head with no real measurements I know it could go to at least 4inches without changing the phone too much. Of course, the aspect ratio would go to a more widescreen friendly ratio instead of that 1980's TV aspect ratio that apple loves so much.. but im sure most users would be happy about that. They may have to change the shape of the home button to that oval that the last round of rumors said it was going to be to give a little more screen clearance, but it could definitely be done.
Considering the SGS1 and the i4 have very similar overall measurements and the SGS1 uses a 4 inch screen, that kinda proves the point right there.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 04:10

110. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)

Old article from internet...but good anyway.
I don't have small hands, but using 3,5 inch display is much more comfy for me than humongous 4,3.
It's of course all about individual preferences, but Steve Jobs had a point.
Even if my phone is so called smartphone, when I want bigger dsiplay I can use netbook, laptop or tablet. Phone must stay and serve as a phone.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 04:29

111. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)

I'd like to correct my self - browsing, texting, watching photos and videos, reading, GAMING, NAVIGATION. In that order.
All things that just want a bigger screen.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 04:42

112. 1701nino (unregistered)

Wait a minute,I have iphone 3gs and ipad 2, the 3,5 inch screen is perfect for everything that i need on my phone.I'm not gonna watch movies on my phone,for that i have the ipad,it fits perfectly in my pocket and i can type with only one hand. This screen size is perfect for me;)

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 06:02

114. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)

In ancient era 1 inch or even smaller was enough to do what phone supposed to do.
Nowadays, it's not enough. Perfect display size is sth between 3,5 - 4 inch.
Perfectly fit in a pocket, comfy to hold it in hands. Remember about the battery life as well. It's one of those aspects which is always skipped.
Bigger screen = more power consumption.
Sammy made sth which can be consider as a phone only as a joke, or uberphone to rule them all.
More than 5 inch slab is a crime when it comes to ergonomics.
You want more screen? Buy sth bigger, but for God's sake...don't require every phone should be at least >4 inch. 4,3 is in my opinion absolutely enough and making sth bigger is insane.

One more thing. How the screen size corresponds with resolution? Slabs like S II with 4,3 inch have still 800 x 480 which is the same (pixel density) Nokia C7 or N8 have.
Did sammy forgot about bigger resolution?
(personally I think that this resolution or even a little bit lower is enough for such a small devices and making sth bigger is a waste of resources).

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 06:43

118. AppleConspiracy (Posts: 637; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)

Bigger screen = more power consumption? Not allways. Resolution plays more important role in this. iPhone 4/4S has greater resolution than last years's 800x480 displays of greater diagonal, and so it drains more battery because it need more processing power. Then we have backlighting - the difference in surface area that needs to be lit is far more smaller than difference in resolutions, not to mention that more and more popular AMOLED screens generally don't even use backlight and rarely illuminate the whole surface - which leads to reduced power consumption, even when diagonals are larger.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 06:24

115. AppleConspiracy (Posts: 637; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)

It's obvious - Steve Jobs wanted to keep it adequate for elementary school children.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 06:32

117. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)

@nino, of course you won't watch movies on your phone. iPhone 3gs. lol.
It lacks screen size! And then it lacks aspect ratio, resolution, contrast, and color accuracy.

But try 4.3 inch super amoled plus, or 4.2 inch 16:9 one with bravia engine,(science says that the ideal ratio for movie watching is 2.5 times the distance of the screen diagonal - meaning that the big screen phone is perfect for this if you hold it at normal distance) and you will find a neat little movie watching jewels.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 07:03

121. Dark4o90 (Posts: 205; Member since: 20 Feb 2011)

the screen resolution and durability are not reasons and samsung proved it.. dropping the iphone once and breaking it is not acceptable option

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 07:06

123. ajac09 (Posts: 1481; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)

this article has proven to be bulls**t. Typical Iphonearena. So not true . I can use all 4.56 inches of my epic touch. I have big hands and have o issues. I have more issues using the iphone 4s screen because it is small. Yet another baised article. All this article proves is the iphone 4s is made for people with small pathetic hands aka women

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 07:20

124. michealdell (Posts: 3; Member since: 01 Nov 2011)

OH! Anyone can use 1 finger for multi touching? apple want to eliminate multi touch on iphone?

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 07:41

125. hunted (Posts: 403; Member since: 21 Sep 2011)

this is an very old article, ilia1986 listed a link for us. And only apple fans will stay with iphone even if they release with 2.5" screen size. Size always matters

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 08:26

128. alila2 (Posts: 138; Member since: 01 Nov 2011)

as a samsung product fanatic and a android os fanboy if you would like to call me. I have to say that the iphone 4, length and width is just right and perfect doesn't matter how big or small your hands are,plus its the best looking phone on the market i believe .Now the negative thing about it is, its not android, screen size too small for a candy bar touch screen phone plus it have the most bezel on a phone, that can be easily used toward a bigger screen.and i don't like the idea of having class on both sides .and by the way samsung the huge length and width of the galaxy prime is a shame for the number one company in tech ,should have called it the galaxy brick. any way i think the best screen size is 4 inches. the best phone size is 4.6x2.4x0.4 with 4 inch screen made by samsung no physical buttons and running android.for big screen lovers its 4.8x2.5x0.4 , 4.3 inch screen. big hopes for sgs3.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 13:58 1

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

"Those with larger phones may have unconsciously begun using their phones two-handed..."

I sure hope they were SUBCONSCIOUSLY using their phones two-handed, and not unconsciously. Otherwise, man they are talented.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 14:03 2

141. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

lol.. taking drunk texting to a whoooole new level.

posted on 07 Nov 2011, 09:29

163. robinrisk (unregistered)

haha that would be terrible!

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 16:36

156. jimjam (Posts: 257; Member since: 28 Jun 2011)

It will stay the same size as it is cheaper for apple

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 17:16 1

157. AppleConspiracy (Posts: 637; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)

There is another problem which could easily be the main reason why Apple will stay on 3.5 inch for now: the Retina resolution.

There is a reason why Retina display has exactly 640x960 resolution - it is older iPhone display resolution times two (320x2=640 and 480x2=960), an elegant solution to backward compatibility for apps designed for older iPhones. One old pixel is replaced with 4 new ones, and everything looks good and proportional.

Now here's the problem: if new screen would be, say, 4 inches - that would mean that this "Retina resolution" wouldn't be "Retina" anymore as it would now have 288 ppi instead 329 ppi. To remain at this PPI value, it has to have different (greater) resolution, but if they still want to keep it backward compatible, they would have to achieve absurd over-FullHD resolution of 1920x1280 px on just 4-inch (or greater for that matter) screen which would surpass 500 PPI.

Keep things in order with backward compatibility and hold to Retina marketing at the same time? It's much easier to stay on 3.5 inch. Think about it.

posted on 01 Nov 2011, 18:32

158. Johnny_Mnemonic (Posts: 240; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)

IPhone is for girls cause they have small hands

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