Big phone or small phone: 8 reasons to convince you in the superiority of large phones


These days, most good phones come in two sizes: small and big, and rarely you'd find something in between.

This applies especially strongly for the world's most popular phones: 

  • Apple has the small, 4.7" iPhone 6s and the large 5.5" iPhone 6s Plus
  • Samsung has got the 5.1" Galaxy S6 and 5.7" Galaxy Note 5, 
  • Google has the 5.2" Nexus 5X and the 5.7" Nexus 6P, 
  • Microsoft has the 5.2" Lumia 950 and the bigger, appropriately named 5.7" Lumia 950 XL
  • Motorola / Lenovo has the 5.2" Moto X and the 5.7" Moto X Pure, 
  • Huawei has the 5.2" P8 and the 6" Mate 8, 
  • and the list just goes on and on.
Clearly, there is a trend here and it is that no one phone size can fit everyone. Some people prefer bigger phones, while others appreciate the pocket comfort and portability of a smaller device. 

While the portability aspects are fairly straightforward, there are some key advantages to getting a larger phone these days that go beyond just pure size. And sometimes, size brings benefits that you might not be able to immediately predict. After switching between large and smaller phones regularly for the past few months, here are the 8 main reasons that large phones have to convince you in their superiority.


#1: Battery life


Battery life is the most common complaint in the smartphone era: the most common complaint is that it's never enough. No surprise here: heavier use might result in your phone dying before the end of your work day.

This is much less likely to happen in a big phone: its large footprint might not be all that great in terms of pocket comfort, but it allows manufacturers to bundle in batteries that are much larger than what can fit in your regular 5 incher. While battery size alone is not a guarantee for great real-world battery life (OS optimizations, display power draw, SoC efficiency and others matter a lot), it is one of the principal factors.

Our own tests testify to this: the iPhone 6s Plus has longer battery life than the 6s, the Galaxy Note 5 will get you through the day without breaking a sweat, while the Galaxy S6 will have a tougher time achieving the same, and the Nexus 6P will also get longer battery life than the 5X.


#2: It's easier to get things done


All sorts of things. If you are doing something important on your phone, you will be doing it faster and better on a large phone. What are some examples? Whether you need to:

  • fill in or edit Excel sheets
  • mix music in djay 
  • unleash your creativity in Garage Band
  • sketch on your phone
  • take pictures
  • edit pictures
  • edit short videos
  • etc
It will all be done faster and better on a larger phone.


#3: Typing is much faster


Just think about it: how many phone calls have you made in recent days? And how many texts/IMs/Facebook messages/Whatsapp/Viber/you-name-it pings have you sent? If you're like most people these days, you keep in touch with your friends mostly by texting.

That's why having a fast, accurate and pleasant to use keyboard on that phone screen is super important. As we switch between devices large and small very commonly, we find a surprisingly huge difference in typing speed and accuracy that screen size alone is responsible for: we type much faster on the iPhone 6s Plus than we do on the iPhone 6s, and the same goes for the Note 5 vs the S6, and Nexus 6P versus the 5X.

However, it is also important to note that not all keyboards are created the same. Some phones just have poor screen reception and even a big screen won't help to make things much better. But if we put both a large and a small phone on equal software and hardware footing, size alone makes a big difference.


#4: Better hardware

*be it a slightly faster processor, better heat dissipation for the CPU or optical image stabilization

Just look at the best small phones of the past couple of years and compare them with the correspondent large phones: you will inevitably conclude that larger phones come with better hardware.

It's hard to point the specific reasons for each one of those decisions, but the general principle is that a larger frame allows for more powerful silicon that runs at higher clock speeds, cools more efficiently, plus it allows features that require more space like optical image stabilization in cameras to fit in.

And in many cases, manufacturers themselves position the larger phone as a more premium device: for instance, the Nexus 6P is the more premium offering when compared against the 5X, and the first comes with Snapdragon 810, while Nexus 5X has the slower Snapdragon 808. The iPhone 6s is a great phone that has identical processor to the 6s Plus, but lacks the optical stabilization of the 6s Plus.


#5: Infinitely better for gamers


The large screen is also great for gamers. Try just about every game on a smaller screen, and then play it on a larger display, and you will find yourself scoring higher and playing better on the bigger of the two. There is more space for your thumbs to operate it without cluttering the display as well. 


#6: Better sound quality through the speaker


Sound quality on a smartphone is in many ways limited because of the small audio chambers, and even small increases in the size of the audio chamber can contribute to big perceived differences in sound quality. It's no coincidence that phones with larger speaker chambers like the HTC One series are able to pump out more impressive, richer sound that even has some depth to it (the part of the sound spectrum most commonly missing on your average smartphone). Of course, it takes more than just space to make a great sounding speaker, but this is one important requirement that larger phones are positioned favorably to adhere to.


#7: Higher resolution screens


Except for a few jolly exceptions (hello, Samsung Galaxy S6!), your regular 5 incher comes with a lower resolution and lower pixel density than its larger counter-part. While 1080 x 1920-pixel Full HD resolutions are still the norm (the iPhone 6s has an even lower resolution) in the 5" phone class, larger phones now commonly feature Quad HD displays (that's 1440 x 2560 pixels) for sharper, crispier visuals.

How much does this matter? Well, the answer is: depends. It's not a huge difference by any means, but if you stare at your screen for longer periods of time from up close, you might notice it. Also, it is especially noticeable when reading books (again, especially with smaller fonts).


#8: Awesome exclusive UI and productivity features


Not just hardware, but some software features are sometimes reserved only for larger phones, where they make more sense. The most obvious example for one such feature is landscape mode on the iPhone 6s Plus for example. It allows you to rotate your phone horizontally and have the home screen icons spin in this orientation as well. The 4.7" iPhone 6s is not capable of pulling such tricks, and that's one convenience that you will miss.

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68 Comments

1. Jimrod

Posts: 1605; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

Take it to the extreme and just carry around a desktop PC, 32" monitor, sub/sat speaker system and couple of car batteries to power it all...

15. tedkord

Posts: 17417; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

I love it when people need to come up with silly extremes to make their point. You sound like one of those cheaply made 2am infomercials for an egg cracker that shows someone cracking eggs the normal way who ends up covered in yolk from head to toe. I have zero issues carrying my Note 5 anywhere, fits in my pants pocket just fine. Plus, it has the benefit of being the best there is.

27. tedkord

Posts: 17417; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

A better, real-life example - all the tards claiming that allowing gays to marry will lead to people marrying children and animals.

30. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Well i dont like the size of thats moto X play i just got at 249.99 brand new. Still i agree i can do much more than on my old phone and the battery is really good.

38. hwb01

Posts: 355; Member since: Apr 17, 2014

Went from S4 to Note5... Haven't looked back

57. SupermanayrB

Posts: 1188; Member since: Mar 20, 2012

Went from DROID RAZR Maxx to Note 3 to Note 4. No 5 because I prefer SD slots in my phone. Waiting for the 6.

40. chenski

Posts: 774; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

My nexus 6p is a bit unwieldy, but i got used to it, plus its the best there is

58. SupermanayrB

Posts: 1188; Member since: Mar 20, 2012

Wow! 8 nimrods actually liked this comment.

2. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

None of these features can compensate for their being too big for one hand operation and for fitting in the pocket comfortably.

4. senseiJ

Posts: 172; Member since: May 02, 2015

true. it so much more difficult to take nudes with larger phones :/

16. tedkord

Posts: 17417; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

I have none of those issues with my Note 4 or 5. No compensation needed.

23. TBomb

Posts: 1579; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

Expect a reasons to go smaller article?

31. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Augustine you should have writen : None of these features can compensate for ther being too big for one hand operation and for fitting in my pocket comfortably at least for me. Everyone have differents needs.

42. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

three tap on home button for note3, maybe other phablet also have similar feature :-/ and nexus6 is perfectly fine inside me pocket, since I never wear something like skinny jean :D

3. Nexus4lifes

Posts: 298; Member since: Feb 13, 2014

1 reason convinced me to use a big screen 5 years ago: Samsung Galaxy NOTE

11. Ruturaj

Posts: 1484; Member since: Oct 16, 2014

No large (or any phone if you don't factor in size) phone comes even close to note series.

39. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

I think the V10 was pretty close to, or even on par with, the Note 5. The Digitizer Pen uses is Note 5's main advantage, but the IR Blaster, Removable Battery, Secondary Screen, and MicroSD Card benefits of the V10 just make that single digitizer benefit pale or nonexistent...

5. jellmoo

Posts: 2628; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Yes, because when I think of awesome exclusive UI and productivity features, the first device that jumps to mind is the iPhone 6s Plus. No other device springs to mind. Nope. Not a one.

6. Iodine

Posts: 1495; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

All of these features get much more pronounced with an iPad. You can have a Plus iPhone, but if you want a really comfortable experience, you can't fit it into a pocket (mostly) and it doesn't matter if you will have a really small (5,5") or tiny (4,7") display, unless you are forced to use it as you primary device. The very best feature of the iPad is that humogeous battery.

7. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

One hand usage and comfort are two "features" that beat all those. I will never get phone bigger than 4.6 inches

9. dimas

Posts: 3383; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

Pa could have mentioned other 4" phones like z3 compact and z5 compact but no, it has to be about iphone ALL the time. Samsung s3 a beast phone on 2012, even at 4.8" that baby can multitask with many things with good battery life.

12. Ruturaj

Posts: 1484; Member since: Oct 16, 2014

Big phones do have one hand mode, at least some of them.

18. guest

Posts: 372; Member since: Jun 13, 2012

Still using this crappy 5s because no android mfg or Apple even has a premium phone in this range. It's tough having my baby in one hand and deal with a phone larger than the 5s :-/

8. dimas

Posts: 3383; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

Wait , iphone 6s don't have a landscape mode? And every android phone can do this since jellybean days? What am I missing here?

10. buccob

Posts: 2975; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

This doesn't apply to Sony at all. 1. The Compacts have as good if not better battery life 2. Getting things done is subjective and it depends entirely on the user and how he uses his device. I am more productive on my Z3C than using a bigger device because of handling and faster typing (swipe type). 3. I do it waaaay better on the compact, specially with the Xperia keyboard that let's you integrate 2 languages automatically 4. I have the same CPU and GPU as the larger version. Less ram but roughly better performance because of the lower resolution of the screen 5. Yes and No. Gaming is only more immersive on bigger devices, but pocketability, performance & lightness are pros for Xperia Compacts. Also I can do TV OUT with either big or small and play with my PS controller. 6. This one is partially true, but my Stereo Speakers are better sounding than many single speakers and the stereo effect even at this compact size is perceived when playing games or watching a movie. 7. True, but 720p for 4.6" still translate in great ppi... Except when using VR but that hasn't become mainstream anyway. 8. Again this doesn't apply to Xperia where you get full features for both big and compact phones... I have floating small apps and even an option for reduced keyboard (that obviously I never use, but is still there). And since Lollipop, Xperia handsets even the Compacts haveThis doesn't apply to Sony at all. 1. The Compacts have as good if not better battery life 2. Getting things done is subjective and it depends entirely on the user and how he uses his device. I am more productive on my Z3C than using a bigger device because of handling and faster typing (swipe type). 3. I do it waaaay better on the compact, specially with the Xperia keyboard that let's you integrate 2 languages automatically 4. I have the same CPU and GPU as the larger version. Less ram but roughly better performance because of the lower resolution of the screen 5. Yes and No. Gaming is only more immersive on bigger devices, but pocketability, performance & lightness are pros for Xperia Compacts. Also I can do TV OUT with either big or small and play with my PS controller. 6. This one is partially true, but my Stereo Speakers are better sounding than many single speakers and the stereo effect even at this compact size is perceived when playing games or watching a movie. 7. True but at 4.6", 720p screen is still very good for almost everything except VR, which is still not mainstream. 8. Again, this doesn't apply to Sony that gives all the features to both big and compact. In my device I am still able to float multiple small app and widgets for great multi taking... Also there is an option for reduced keyboard (not that I use it, but is still there). Finally since Lollipop, Xperia handsets even the Compacts have Landscape mode for homescreen. Now the biggest + for me is not having to use a special feature like "Reachability" to accomplish a tap on all of my scree

32. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Hey...why you trying to be me...LMAO...nice post and I agree with alot of it. I would sub out your Xperia with some alternatives. 720p sucks to me unless all you're doing is watching YouTube videos or videos on ShowBox. But most movies are 1080p and that si how I want to see it. I want to see it the way it was meant to be seen and if I have to use my phone, it must support 1080p minimum. I dont have to have QHD, but considering I can have it for less than a phone with 1080p, then I will choose the 1440p. Now, if the device is in the sub-$500 range, then 1280x800 is what I would expect at the max depebding on display size. a 4.7" display up to 5.3...1280x800 is minumum and 1080p would be nice. for 5.5 and above...1080p/1440 is perfect. So Apple did ok here. But for the base iPhone it should be 1280x800...750p is bullcrap at $649. For $700 it must have the best resolution available based on size... The iPhone 6S should be a $500 phone while the 1080p model should be $600. tops. Considering I can get a 5.1" device with 1440p for $599.

49. TheOriginal

Posts: 49; Member since: Oct 28, 2015

I think thats why they didnt even mention it, aside from apple they are the only small flagship. so it would essentially disprove the whole article.

13. ltavaress

Posts: 32; Member since: Feb 20, 2012

Media is trying to brainwash us in thinking bigger phones are better, since most of phones now are too big and they need consumers for that. I'm not convinced, I was afraid this day would come when smartphone companies would be addicted into making phones bigger and bigger. Strange how 4-5 inch screen was considered ideal to use comfortably, and how 300+ ppi was enough for our eye in the past and you couldn't notice the difference. Now 300 ppi is reviewed as regular resolution and pixely... Did the human eye change? People please, we don't need phones to be spaceships... companies should focus on optimizing what is important instead of delivering more and more ridiculous features (like iris scanner) ugh

26. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

The only people who claimed 4" and 300PPI was enough was those brainwashed Apple fools. After all explain how a device being larger is bad when that same company also had a tablet? The benefits of a large smartphone is, i don't want to own a tablet. When I had the iPhone as my main phone, I had to have an iPad because the iPhone was simply to small for the things I wanted to do. Also thinsg are different when we had no choice but to use small screens. What you are sayign is equal to cars. Remember when small cars was the trend and that was all people were making. Then Chrysler bought jeep and made the first SUV and peopel were saying how they are too big and not practical and that trucks are off-raod onluy vehicles and blah blah. Now 20 years later, SUV's are just as plentiful as small cars, cost about the same and are better for hauling things like peopel who have lots of kids, need to buy lots of groceries..or owns a home and how great an SUV is for carrying supplies and cargo. Now we knwo how terrible small cars were. Again you are mentally not changing with time. Just because something was ok wasn't before, doeskin mean we shouldn't change. Once upon a time. the Intel 8086 was the best CPU you could buy. NOW IT ISN'T. In early 2k, all we had were small screens which is why Apple had the best with increasing resolution. But it also screwed up people eyes trying to shove high pixel density into a smaller space. 300PPI os 3.5" is stupid. Its better on 4.5" or up to 5". 1080P or higher is great for 5.3 or better. Even though 1440p is nice on 5.7...it woudl be better on a 6-7" device. Even though I dont mind watching 1080p movies on my phone, no matter the phone as long as it can natively show the resolution, I prefer to watch it on my TV. No one is tryign to sell you on anything. If you dont liek a big screen device, no one is forcing you to buy them. Its on the shelf with the small phones. Pick a small phone and be happy. Size is subjective, but they do have associated facts. High resolution content is BETTER on a larger screen period. Whether you like to view it on a larger screen or not. Just like using an SUV to haul cargo is better than a small car even if you can fit it all in your small car. A tractor is better at moving large amount of dirt, even though a shovel works too.

28. Iodine

Posts: 1495; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

It were iHaters who were first to hurry to explain how iPhone 4 Retina display was an "overkill" and how "nobody is going to see the difference".

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