Is bigger better?

Coventional wisdom would tell us that bigger is better, right? But I think we can all come up with examples when that doesn’t apply and I think smartphones is one example of that.

Published: Sun 23 Oct 2011, 12:13 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:03 AM

Although I like the 4-inch display on the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc I’ve been testing out lately, I also think that anything much larger than that is getting a bit out of hand, no pun intended.

At GITEX in Dubai the other week I briefly tested out the Samsung Note, which has a 5.3-inch display. I’ve also handled the HTC Sensation XL with its 4.7- inch display. Next to these, the 3.5-inch screen on iPhone seems really tiny.

The allure with the Note is, of course, that it would replace a tablet as well as smartphone, so you wouldn’t have to spend money on two devices. And that makes sense from a money point of view; assuming you spend around Dh2,500 on each, the anticipated price of around Dh3,000 for the Note appears downright cheap.

Some say that Apple won’t go beyond the 3.5-inch display size because it would mean too much fragmentation of the platform, meaning software developers would have one more resolution and size to adapt to. That’s the sitaution over on the Android side and it can be quite a headache when developing apps for that platform. Others argue that with a display any larger than 3.5-inches you can’t comfortably operate the device with one hand. Your

fingers simply won’t stretch far enough. I think both those arguments have merit and as much as I personally would like to see an i-device with a 4-inch display I don’t think it will happen anytime soon.

Also, I’ve never been a great fan of all-in-one devices and I think Apple and I are on the same page in that regard. An iPhone doesn’t try to be everything to everyone, same is true for the iPad. We can be frustrated all we want to about how Apple takes away our choice by basically only producing one model of each (I disregard the different options with regards to storage capacity), but I the success of iPhone 4S seems to indicate consumers don’t really care.

With more than four million units sold in the first weekend, sales of iPhone 4S has greatly surpassed any other smartphone in a comparable time period. As a comparison, it took Samsung Galaxy S II over two months to ship five million units, and that’s shipments to distributors, not necessarily sales to customers.

So, many of Apple’s competitors, including Samsung, also don’t get this, that a device doesn’t have to be everything to everyone. Compared spec for spec, many Android smartphones beat the iPhone 4 and even the 4S, but the total is not just a sum of the parts. When it comes to Apple products, Cupertino bends the rules and makes sure 2+2=5. That’s why we won’t see a device like Samsung Note from Apple; it’s too much of a compromise while at the same time trying to be everything to everyone.

Magnus Nystedt,, @mnystedt

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