Smartphones with larger screens have become increasingly prevalent over recent years, and the trend looks set to continue. However, are big screens really the future of smartphones? And can screens ever be too big?
Growing Popularity of Larger Screens
Larger screens on smartphone are becoming increasingly common, and that is because they have proved to be a big hit. This is strange when you think back to the days when mobile phones first became popular and the aim was to make them as small as possible.
So why are things now going back in the other direction?
The fact is, mobile phones are no longer just phones. Whereas a very small and sleek device can be used to make phone calls and send text messages without any problems, we expect a lot more from our smartphones.
We use them to watch films, consume content on the internet, view images, read books and play games. As phone displays have gradually become bigger in recent years, more people have realised that they are prepared to give up the portability of a small phone in return for a better user experience.
The Rise of the Phablet
Another factor that has to be taken into account is the growing use of tablets. Tablets provide another kind of mobile computing experience, but some even have the capability to make calls, making them in may ways like extra large smartphones. As people become more used to accessing their content on a large tablet screen, smartphone screens start to look smaller and less attractive.
This has led to the rise of a new device altogether, the ‘phablet’. A phablet is the nickname given to a smartphone that has a particularly large screen but is not quite a tablet. The simple fact that we now have a name for such devices demonstrates how confused people are becoming about what is a phone and what is a tablet, and how we should actually distinguish between them.
Current Screen Sizes
There are some smartphones, or phablets, available at the moment that have really started to push the boundaries of what is an acceptable screen size for a device. The Samsung S3, which is Samsung’s flagship smartphone at the time of writing, has a 4.8-inch display, which has not stopped it from becoming the main rival to the iPhone.
Even more extreme is the Samsung Note 2, the follow-up to the original Note the size of which left many questioning whether Samsung had gone ‘too big’. This device even comes with a stylus, and at 5.5 inches it is well and truly in the phablet category.
Even Apple is realising that larger screens are the way to go, as demonstrated with the change to the iPhone 5 when it was released in September 2012. The increased screen size to 4 inches was the biggest change in the model’s hardware since it was released in 2007.
Problems with Larger Screens
The main problem that some people highlight is that there is no way that you can comfortably use handsets with large screens with just one hand. A mobile phone should be something that you can take out of your pocket or bag and use with one hand while keeping your other hand free. With a larger screen that requires two hands to operate, the device suddenly seems to become less mobile.
There is also the problem of how to carry it. Not everyone has large enough pockets for the biggest phablets, making them less convenient to carry around.
However, none of these issues have prevented Samsung Note from going on to become an unlikely hit, selling millions of devices around the world, so it seems that there is a real shift taking place now where people are willing to give up portability for the benefits of a larger screen.
Is the Future of Smartphones Bigger and Better?
No one really knows what the future of smartphones holds, but for now it certainly seems that bigger screens are here to stay. However, it looks like this will always be a subjective issue. Many people will always prefer smaller handsets, and it is hard to see how smaller handsets can ever disappear completely.
One possible game changer could be the much-rumoured iWatch. If people are suddenly keeping their smartphones in their pockets and accessing information via a small watch device instead, we could see a shift once again to smaller phones. But of course, that is just pure speculation and, for now at least, it seems that big really is better and is certainly here to stay.