A reason why the iPhone display may stay at 3.5"

A reason why the iPhone display may stay at 3.5
One of the biggest jabs that detractors have when attacking the iPhone is its screen size, because some may say that bigger is always better. There are a number of reasons why that isn't really true, including personal preference, quality and efficiency. The first two reasons are pretty easy to grasp: some people may not like bigger screens for any number of reasons from limited pocket space, to the weight; and, some would prefer a higher resolution to a bigger screen. The last reason seems to be one that would tickle the obsessive side of Steve Jobs: the reach of your thumb.

Designer Dustin Curtis made a little mockup, which you can see on the right, showing how much screen real estate the average person's thumb can cover while using a phone with one hand. The basic idea is that a 3.5" screen is the perfect size for the average hand. Of course, the trouble with the word "average" is that there are plenty of people with much larger hands, and also smaller, so a wider range of screen sizes seems like a better approach. But, it also does show that bigger is certainly not always better. Additionally, "average" in this case likely means male and female, and most polls about screen size tend to have more males represented in the voting, which could explain the tendency for polls to show preferences towards larger screens. In fact, some may find it to be very annoying or unwieldy. 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.

There is also the other condition of the data, which is assuming you use the phone one-handed. Those with larger phones may have unconsciously begun using their phones two-handed in most scenarios because of just this reason. Still, given Steve Jobs' strive for what he saw as perfect, this seems like a reason that he would throw his weight behind in order to keep the iPhone screen size stable at 3.5". We can't say whether it's the right or wrong reason, but it certainly would explain it. The bigger question is whether this reasoning will hold with future iPhones or not.

source: Dustin Curtis via The Next Web



1. phantomash

Posts: 20; Member since: Aug 27, 2011

not all hands are born equal size.

15. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

yep, definitely covered that in the article.

122. s.mrabet

Posts: 147; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

Why still not changed the picture if you know it's not real??? The whole article is biased!

130. PotDragon

Posts: 214; Member since: Jul 22, 2011

To state that pocket space and weight are a factor is a joke. What does Steve say the average pocket or pocketbook size is? How much does an iphone in an otterbox weigh? Really think it's lighter? Sigh

136. Habib

Posts: 114; Member since: Feb 26, 2011

i think i remember, that the circle was not the same size! and this article by alot of commentators was considered futile and biased. As for the content, which were based on these two pictures, they are also futile!

162. vu2ikl

Posts: 11; Member since: Sep 22, 2011

The diagram is interesting. It shows the area sweepable by normal sized thumb. So it's overall size of mobile not the screen size which should matter. HTC Desire S has comparable size.. a couple of mm here and there. but it has 3.7inch size unlike 3.5inch of iphone. IMO that is much better.

32. Immolate

Posts: 310; Member since: Jun 17, 2011

Screen size is but one of the many minor conceits that Apple wallows in. Yet every poll I see indicates a preference for larger screens, with 4 and 4.3 getting the lion's share. I'm asking you this Apple lovers: must you suffer for your devotion. Is there some religious edict requiring you two be limited to two choices, small phone in black and small phone in white? You deserve better than to be treated like a bumbling herd of lobotomized sheep. You aren't going to get respect if you take what they give you and say "thank you sir, may I have another". In the Android world, if you don't like it, wait a week and something better will come along, Voting with our feet is a way of life. It hurts me to see good people treated like serfs by a tyrannical company that thinks you like it like that. Rise up, oh ye the oppressed 9%! Rise up and throw down your tormentors!

34. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

Not everyone wants or needs more than two choices. Many people quite like whatever Apple provides because of the design and integration with other Apple products. It's a choice, not something you need to campaign over.

83. denney

Posts: 98; Member since: Oct 20, 2011

I have actually decided that if the next iPhone has a screen larger thatn 4" I will buy one. I am a mac guy through and through, and having an iPhone would drastically simplify my mobile life, but my hands are gigantic, my fingers are even a little big for the keyboard on my HD7. The screen size is the only reason I have not purchased an iPhone.

116. vishnutp

Posts: 2; Member since: Nov 01, 2011

U better need a custom phone or tab else u can choose a tab with phone function..

164. ladyhaly

Posts: 106; Member since: Jan 17, 2011

They could provide MORE choices. Not get rid of the existing models. The fact is that not every is the same. There is no one right way for existing and trying to label people in doing so is the reason why there are people like Hitler who would kill millions of Jews for being Jews. Is it so much for a company whose budget exceeds the budget of the national government to actually provide more choices for their consumers? Is it too much to acknowledge that there are different kinds of users?

35. earle.evans

Posts: 27; Member since: Mar 07, 2010

Not everyone wants it. I went with an original Droid and Incredible 2 b/c of the smaller screen. To me, bigger is not better, it's cumbersome and annoying. Large part of the reason I went back to the iphone.

165. ladyhaly

Posts: 106; Member since: Jan 17, 2011

If they did, I would have bought one a year ago. But it would ruin the image of Apple being all authoritarian-like.

36. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

shows us a poll that shows most people want bigger screens not a pa fandroid poll either

45. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

the poll was already done.. PA's "what feature do u want the most on the i4s/i5" article showed "bigger screen" as the number 1 answer by far. Now on to sales.. when given the choice android consumers have shown over n over again that 4+ inches is the size phone they want.. even when other phones are given away for free. 90% of android's top sellers of the last year has been 4+ inches. The proof is all around you. The iphone is the ONLY phone that sells that much with such a small screen, and thats ONLY because people that want iOS have NO CHOICE in the matter.

50. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

It's hard to say that we have an unbiased and representative readership. Gotta keep that in mind with our polls

61. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

biased yes.. 90% biased in 1 direction? definately not.

73. squallz506

Posts: 1075; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

then why does PA use the poll results as representative of all phone users? hence:http://www.phonearena.com/news/Smartphones-and-Data-Usage-Poll-results_id21045http://www.phonearena.com/news/Poll-results-Apple-iPhone-4S-battery-gate-Is-it-real_id23157 nowhere in these articles is a disclaimer about "unbiased and representative readership"

95. SweetLou

Posts: 17; Member since: Oct 20, 2011

They don't use it as a blanket statement, they poll the readers here and thats the sample. If they say, "Most people that read this site would prefer a larger screen on the next iphone," How is that generalizing to the population?

135. gallitoking

Posts: 4721; Member since: May 17, 2011

"The proof is all around you".. you are right... look on how the iphone is selling.... The iphone is the ONLY phone that sells that much with such a small screen"...... and thats why it sells soo much becuase is the only one.. "even when other phones are given away for free. 90% of android's top sellers of the last year has been 4+ inches."... well.. 90% of android phones are 4+... so those customers have no choice but to go to Android if they want a big screen....... keyword.. no choice.... and your point is????

138. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

android phones range from 3.1 inches to 4.52 inches, gallito. There are dozens of models under 4 inches. see.. this magical thing happens when you have choice.. you get to choose your own screen sweet spot.. not be told what it is. its also a magical coincidence that most all WP7 phones are 4+ inches, even symbian phones are starting to look the same.. and peter's favorite.. BADA is popin at 4 inches now. its either the entire world is wrong, or you are. hmmmmm..

167. ladyhaly

Posts: 106; Member since: Jan 17, 2011

It's so obvious that gallito is. It's so hard for closed-minded people to see the whole picture when all they see is Apple.

166. ladyhaly

Posts: 106; Member since: Jan 17, 2011

You are seriously overlooking the existence of Windows Mango phones.

139. vette21man

Posts: 351; Member since: Apr 06, 2011

However, that is the FIRST 4+ inch screen phone they have ever bought. I'd like another poll taken with the following: "After owning a 4+ inch screen phone for a year, what size screen will your next smart phone have?" I think we have to take into account that these 4+ inch screen consumers bought partially into the hype and allure of larger screens. Has their opinion of large screens changed after owning one for a year? For example, my friend had an EVO 4G for over a year, and they now have an iPhone 4S.

168. ladyhaly

Posts: 106; Member since: Jan 17, 2011

I am a 4'11" petite Asian girl with size 4.5 feet and small hands. I've bought the HTC Desire HD last year and after a whole year decided to buy the HTC Sensation XE. Both 4.3 inch screens. I am aware of the iPhone 4 and 4S and have experience using them and they suck. I hate holding them. Too flat and fragile. And watching videos with friends sucks when all you have is a flimsily small screen. So is surfing the web.

52. JGuinan007

Posts: 699; Member since: May 19, 2011

I'm someone who wants a bigger screen 3.5 is way too small for me I have a 4.3 screen now and want a 5.3 screen I'm 6'5" and have big hands and a bigger screen means better web viewing better texting for my fingers for me a bigger screen is better but I guess if you like scrolling around and pinching to zoom on web viewing and your 4'5" and have small girlie hands 3.5 is great for you

87. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

3.5 inch screen size is so yesterday (more like last 2 years). If Apple keeps the iPhone's screen size locked into 3.5 inches, all of the high-end Android handset manufacturers should send flowers to Apple's executive team. Add up the sales of the Android handsets with screen size larger than 3.5 inches. The number is not trivial. I guess the owners of those handsets are all using both hands while interacting with the handset. Having to use both hands sure doesn't seem to have soured those owners.

137. gallitoking

Posts: 4721; Member since: May 17, 2011

ok Droid_X_Doug...do the math for me, and tell me why that the Android phone they purchased is because of the screen siz.. please.. "Add up the sales of the Android handsets with screen size larger than 3.5 inches. "

169. ladyhaly

Posts: 106; Member since: Jan 17, 2011

Not really. I'm 4'11", am a girl, and do have small hands and my hands yearn for the 4.3 screens. I freaking love my Desire HD and my Sensation XE. I type on my HTCs way faster than on my Nokia E72.

103. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

"not all hands are born equal size." Which is a problem when applying averaging. If 5 adult male's hands are measured as follows: Hand A = 189mm Hand B = 193mm Hand C = 183mm Hand D = 190mm Hand E = 191mm The Average measurement is 189.2. However, 60% of the sample has a larger hand size than the 'average', because of the one small hand skewing the average. If Steve Jobs used average hand size as a reason for the 3.5 inch display size, he could be guilty of making an impulsive decision. I suspect it is more a matter of economics (as in unit cost of producing a retina-spec display in sizes larger than 3.5 inches).

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