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Smartphone Screen Real Estate: How Big Is Big Enough?

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the if-it-doesn't-fit-on-your-coffee-table-you-might-have-a-problem dept.

Cellphones 320

MojoKid writes "Aside from the terrible nickname (it sounds like a term for the spoiled offspring of fabulous people), phablets are somewhat controversial because they seem to be the epitome of inflated phone sizes. A lot of people wanted bigger, and this is 'bigger' to the extreme. A larger screen on a smartphone is attractive for obvious reasons, but surely there's a limit. So how big is too big? If you're not into parsing out the particulars of form factors and use cases, here's a really easy way to figure out if your phone or phablet is too big: Can you hold the device in one hand and 1) unlock the phone, 2) type out a text message with your thumb, and 3) adjust the volume with the rocker without using your other hand? If not, you might need a smaller phone."

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I have a Galaxy Note (5, Interesting)

maroberts (15852) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032503)

..and it fits perfectly in my breast shirt pocket. I don't put phones in trouser/pants pockets ever since I broke a screen of one by doing so.

I love the Note as its large display makes a great GPS device when in its car holder.
The main thing I want in a smartphone now is enormous battery life as well as the features. I do miss the days when you could charge your phone once a week, but not so much I'm willing to go back to having a basic phone.

Re:I have a Galaxy Note (2, Interesting)

gigaherz (2653757) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032529)

I hope you place it with the screen towards you, at least. I don't know where they place the antennas nowadays, but I wouldn't want a device emitting microwaves onto my lungs/heart... nor my genitals, either.

Re:I have a Galaxy Note (5, Funny)

dintech (998802) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032567)

Don't worry, it's going to be at least 3 years before phones get big enough to rub your genitals while you're on the phone. For now you have to do that yourself.

In the meantime, enjoy this vision of the future. [youtube.com]

(Safe for Work)

Re:I have a Galaxy Note (1)

Dodgy G33za (1669772) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032695)

Especially if he puts the phone in his shirt pocket.

Re:I have a Galaxy Note (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032777)

I'm not really too fussed about RF radiation, since I'm already older than the half-life of Pu-238 (or that's how it feels sometimes) and sooner or later, something's got to make me croak.

I put the screen towards me (in my pants pocket) after an experience ~10 years ago when I managed to bugger up the outer screen of a Motorola clamshell while unloading some machinery off a trailer. It would have cost more than the phone was worth to fix it, so the screen stayed broken until the phone came up for replacement.

Re:I have a Galaxy Note (3, Informative)

gigaherz (2653757) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032539)

Forgot to say, disable broadband connections (stick to GSM) and WiFi unless you need them, turn down the screen brightness, and avoid having background tasks, specially those with constant internet connections (PUSH notifications use a single service for all the notifications, and it's server-initiated instead of polled, so they don't matter as much). You can triple the battery life that way.

Re:I have a Galaxy Note (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43032731)

You can triple the battery life that way.

So... Three hours?

Re:I have a Galaxy Note (3, Interesting)

DiSKiLLeR (17651) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032937)

3 hours? Seriously? My Galaxy Note N7000 lasts 4 days - YES 4 DAYS - of a single charge.

As long as you're not looking at your screen to check your facebook stream or w/e every 2 minutes your phone can acutally last a while.

Re:I have a Galaxy Note (2)

gigaherz (2653757) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032939)

From barely 20-22 hours "idle", to nearly 70, in my case.

Re:I have a Galaxy Note (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032825)

I hate push notifications. Especially when my attempts to suspend them don't stick, so the unwanted traffic costs big-time when roaming.

I set my mail client (K-9 Mail) to poll my 3 most-used addresses via POP3 at differing intervals, to keep traffic to a minimum, and limit the maximum size of the message.

Re:I have a Galaxy Note (5, Informative)

arkhan_jg (618674) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032659)

Me too. I keep it mostly in my suit jacket inside pocket most of the time, or my coat pocket when casual - I wear slacks instead of jeans, so it goes there (in a case) in summer.

The bigger screen is glorious for email and web browsing - especially in landscape - going back to my old 4" galaxy s feels like using a toy phone now, it's just so small.

I can unlock and text with my thumb if I want to (helllllo, swype and now swiftkey flow) and running on cyanogenmod 10.1 the thing is lovely and fast. I do tend to hold it in one hand and type with the other though. I use it more than my nexus 7, simply because I always have it with me, though the mini tablet is ideal for sofa browsing and meetings as it can still be held one handed but gives that bit more screen estate.

I don't see myself going back to any smartphone that's significantly smaller than 5"; even the galaxy s3 (which is pretty large for a smartphone in its own right) is a bit small for my preference now.

I guess it's what you use it for; mine is a full blown mini computer, complete with ssh client, that fits in my pocket. Mobile data is where it's at, and actual phone calls are a bit of a rarity. I can get two days out of my note no problem, because the battery is that much wider. Not sure I'd want it much thicker though, would make it harder to span your hand round it, even when you do have big-man hands like me. Just have to hope some of the promised battery tech improvements that keep showing up in research actually start ending up in real devices.

Re:I have a Galaxy Note (5, Informative)

DiSKiLLeR (17651) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032897)

Hear hear. I have a Galaxy Note N7000 and think its the best thing since sliced bread.

I got it when it first came out, and from 2.3 to 4.0 to 4.1 each update has been amazing.

I started out with a Sony Ericsson P900, P990i, iPhone 3G, iPhone 4, HTC Sensation (which I loved) and then Galaxy Note.

So my last 2 phones I kept getting bigger, and I never looked back.

I keep my phone in my front jeans pocket and never had a problem with it being 'too large'. Though I must admit, any time I've seen someone holding my phone to their head on a call looked comical and so I guess I must look the same when I am talking on my phone. Oh well. :D

Re:I have a Galaxy Note (3, Insightful)

SillyPerson (920121) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033029)

Please mod parent up!
Not because he had anything profound to say, but he spelled 'Hear, hear' correctly.
(He forgot the comma, but I let that slide).

Re:I have a Galaxy Note (1)

guises (2423402) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032987)

You don't think that the oversized phone is the reason it broke in your pocket? I've never had any problems with that, but I have a strong preference for smaller phones. I use a Nexus One most of the time.

Galaxy Note II would be the limit (2)

a_hanso (1891616) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032509)

I've played with the device quite a bit (I'm planning to buy one) and I think the Galaxy Note II would be about the limit for devices that need to fit into trouser pockets and can be held to the ear without looking like a clown.

Unless future fashion changes to accommodate "handsets" and handsets become more about the functions other than voice calls.

Re: Galaxy Note II would be the limit (4, Informative)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032615)

Just got my a GalaXy Note ll two days ago. writing this with the stylist. Way better than typing. I was worried that hand writing was on its way out, but this is great.

Re: Galaxy Note II would be the limit (4, Funny)

a_hanso (1891616) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032645)

writing this with the stylist. Way better than typing.

Ouch. But I do agree with you.

Re: Galaxy Note II would be the limit (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032811)

There's only a submit button on the mobile version of /., no preview button. I guess I'll have to get out of the habit of hitting preview to read my post before submitting.

Plus I can't spell.

Re: Galaxy Note II would be the limit (4, Informative)

itsdapead (734413) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032861)

Just got my a GalaXy Note ll two days ago. writing this with the stylist.

Yes... we can tell :-)

(Hint - try enabling 'complete recognition' - this is squirrelled away under Settings > Personal > Language and Input > Samsung keyboard > Handwriting - I find it more reliable and makes catching mistakes easier).

Re: Galaxy Note II would be the limit (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032905)

Awesome, works even better plus, I was also able to increase the nonrecognition time so the message doesn't time out in the middle of a word.

Re:Galaxy Note II would be the limit (1)

Cloud K (125581) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032619)

Same here.

It's grown over the years (ooer missus)
At first I thought the original iPhone was huge, and got used to that. Then I thought the HTC One X and Samsung S3 were huge, and got used to my One X. I think that's a wonderful size. I think the GNII is huge, but could get used to that.
Anything bigger than the GNII wouldn't fit in my pocket, so I think that's the limit. In fact the HTC is about the sweet spot for me as I can fit it in the same pocket as my wallet leaving the other pocket free for a camera.

But recently I've toyed with the idea of carrying a 7 inch 3G tablet (which gets into the realms of "fairly comfortable to make internet posts on") and reverting to a dumbphone so I can get more than 5 minutes of battery life. 7in tablets fit into a standard jacket inner/map pocket. This idea would fall over on warm summer days when you wouldn't wear a jacket, but I'm posting from the UK and our last warm summer day was in 2006 so I'm not too worried.

Re:Galaxy Note II would be the limit (1)

a_hanso (1891616) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032651)

I bought a Galaxy Tab 7, used it for a few months and ended up selling it. It's in the wrong place between tablets and smart phones. I always end up leaving it at home. Or I take my laptop or netbook.

Re:Galaxy Note II would be the limit (1)

Cloud K (125581) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032701)

YMMV - I use my Nexus 7 very heavily (especially at the pub, being antisocial as I am) and find its book-like format perfect. While my full size iPad sits gathering dust.

Re:Galaxy Note II would be the limit (1)

a_hanso (1891616) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032803)

The Nexus family is a completely different story. They're a joy to hold -- they (especially the 10) fit smugly into your hand. Feels light too.

Re:Galaxy Note II would be the limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43032997)

I got a Galaxy Tab 7, and I use it exclusively while traveling. It has enough screen real estate for comfortable reading, email, and watching movies on the airplane, and I don't need a square foot of screen to play the occasional game. Battery life is great (I do a lot of international travel, long flights) and I wouldn't be without it. Gave the iPad to the wife, too hard to carry, and I hated the hoops you have to go through with the iTunes app.

And I always use two hands to text on my phone, faster and easier.

Ok! (0)

nospam007 (722110) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032513)

MojoKid, go back to your job, milking mice with your tiny hands.

We're good.

So... (3, Funny)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032515)

You are saying we need to put a grip like a hand gun on it in the bottom right (or left) corner so you can hold it. Swipe an arch with your thumb and have all the text in a semi arch keyboard near the corner. Then we can have a 20" screen for our phone?

Presupposition (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43032523)

The criteria presuppose that you *want* to be able to use your phone with only one hand. I am mal-coordinated enough that I can only use my phone with two hands, no matter how big or small it is, so surely the criteria for me are: 1) does it fit in my pocket? 2) can I hold it up to my ear and make a telephone call comfortably? 3) can I hold it in one hand and use it with the other comfortably? 4) is the screen large enough that it can display what I want to see at a reasonable resolution?

Re:Presupposition (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032869)

I am mal-coordinated enough that I can only use my phone with two hands, no matter how big or small it is

If your phone is big enough, it's not a problem. I grew up with phones like this [gpotelephones.com] where you could wedge the handset between your head and shoulder, and use a pencil or a pinkie to work the dial. Of course, for many years, mobile phones didn't really look that much different: just push-buttons instead of a dial, and no wire between the phone and the wall.

I've been seriously considering getting another such machine, since I live some distance from regular power supplies, and these phones never needed batteries.

Clamshell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43032531)

I'm still waiting for a modern clamshell formfactor phone. Has to be small enough to fit into my pocket easily.

What?? (5, Interesting)

Cenan (1892902) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032543)

Can you hold the device in one hand and 1) unlock the phone, 2) type out a text message with your thumb, and 3) adjust the volume with the rocker without using your other hand? If not, you might need a smaller phone.

None of the above points are arguments for/against screens of any size. All of those "problems" can be solved without even thinking about the size of the screen on a device.

1) unlocking schemes for phones can take on any number of different forms, not all requiring you to swipe from edge to edge to unlock.

2) usability of the virtual keyboard has nothing to do with screen size, but a matter of placing it in the correct location on the screen

3) adjusting the volume on a phone has nothing to do with screen size, and everything to do with placement of the rocker button.

Re:What?? (1)

jadv (1437949) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032633)

Can you hold the device in one hand and 1) unlock the phone, 2) type out a text message with your thumb, and 3) adjust the volume with the rocker without using your other hand? If not, you might need a smaller phone.

None of the above points are arguments for/against screens of any size. All of those "problems" can be solved without even thinking about the size of the screen on a device.

1) unlocking schemes for phones can take on any number of different forms, not all requiring you to swipe from edge to edge to unlock.

2) usability of the virtual keyboard has nothing to do with screen size, but a matter of placing it in the correct location on the screen

3) adjusting the volume on a phone has nothing to do with screen size, and everything to do with placement of the rocker button.

You mean, TFA authour is holding it wrong? Steve, is that you? I thought you were dead!

Re:What?? (4, Interesting)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032765)

That may be part of the problem. People using iPhones aren't used to the idea that you can change basic features like lockscreens, keyboards, and have a variety of options for the physical layout of buttons, etc. The iPhone (and any other phone) involves a series of design choices and compromises and isn't going to be perfect for everybody. This is one of the big advantages of having multiple hardware providers and a more open OS. If it's not perfect for you, try something else.

Re:What?? (0)

lxs (131946) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032907)

Or you can show some mental flexibility, deal with the fact that not everything in the world has to be tailored to your particular quirks to be functional and adapt.

Re:What?? (3, Insightful)

Carewolf (581105) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033037)

Or you can show some mental flexibility, deal with the fact that not everything in the world has to be tailored to your particular quirks to be functional and adapt.

Are you saying iPhone users are better at fitting the mold, adapting instead of changing the world?

If you are, I would agree with you.

Re:What?? (1)

lxs (131946) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033081)

No, I am saying that grownups don't waste their time on raging against UI flaws or having petty tribal arguments based on the brand of sneakers...I mean telephone you prefer.

Re:What?? (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032641)

All of these "points" are not even points at all, just a matter of personal usage preferences.

Humans have got two hands, why not use them both? I am perfectly able to use my HTC HD2 with one hand only, but I don't do that, because using both hands is - for me - much more comfortable.

Re:What?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43032679)

Grandpa, why are you texting with one hand?

Re:What?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43032885)

Grandpa, why are you texting with one hand?

Look away ... and help me find the exclamation point!

Re:What?? (1)

MurukeshM (1901690) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032991)

Grandpa, why are you texting with one hand?

Look away ... and help me find the exclamation point!

There it is!

Re:What?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43032755)

I totally agree.

For me the answer is very simple: It's too big when I can't carry it with me at all times.

As I don't always wear a jacket. It's too big when it doesn't fit in my trouser/pants pocket. And if by doing so it breaks, then it's too fragile.
There's hope for bigger screens with future smartphone woth folding screen.

Its all about ergonomics and the individual (1)

jools33 (252092) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032759)

For me its all a matter of ergonomics and the individuals hand size. Sure applications developers can develop for folks with larger phones and small hands - but in general they don't give a damn. I have a Galaxy S2 - and sometimes I do find it a stretch when using the device one handed - and I have dropped the phone on more than one occasion - so I guess I don't want too much bigger than an S2 - but people with bigger hands will want bigger devices. It definitely is easier on the eyes to read from a larger screen.

Re:What?? (1)

Sique (173459) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032771)

1) and 3) are ok with me, but for 2) I beg to differ.

I use the virtual keyboard always with both thumbs, holding the phone in both hands. I am not an one-hand-typer, typing with only one hand (or one finger) feels uncomfortable to me. This would effectively double the maximum screensize for me, compared with one-thumb-typers.

On the other hand, I am lefthanded anyway, so any scheme that expects the user to hold the phone in the right hand is flawed for me.

Re:What?? (2)

Cenan (1892902) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032823)

Well, I use my phone much like you describe, yet I fail to see how 2) applies to your situation.

The size of the screen (barring screens that are too small) has nothing to do with the usability of the virtual keyboard. The placement and size of the keyboard on said screen does impact usability. On too small a screen you would have to do something like the old phone keyboards, with multiple letters on each button. Once a screen reaches a certain size you can use a full qwerty-type keyboard always, as long as you (the developer) do not assume that it needs to span the entire screen width at all times. The assumption that a keyboard needs to span the entire width of the screen is what is breaking usability for one handed typers, not the size of the screen.

Re:What?? (2)

YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032849)

Exactly. All of these points are completely subjective and some even lead me to believe the author is stuck mentally in the dumbphone era. I mean 2. wtf? This is something teens did in the early 2000's, texting with thumbs and even most of them did it with two thumbs. It'd probably need a _bigger_ screen to even be able to do this as my thumbs are large and I'd probably hit more than key most of the time.

As of 1), I have an actual lock for my unlocking, aka a pattern as I'd really really really hate to lose my phone AND have all my personal information, accounts etc totally unprotected. I'd really don't understand why this doesn't worry more people.

And 3 is a placement issue more than anything else, as parent already pointed out.

Re:What?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43032901)

I know, right? Talk about arbitrary. The thing is, once you've abandoned these arbitrary metrics of usability, and accept you can't necessarily do all these things, you *may as well* have a larger phone.

The limit for me is how comfortably it fits in your pocket.

3" to 3.5" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43032549)

I think between 3 and 3.5 inches is perfect, assuming you have good eyesight to be happy with small fonts on a very high resolution display.

YMMV (2)

waddgodd (34934) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032551)

I grew up when a Trimline, so I expect a phone to take up a certain amount of space on my face when I'm talking. Given that "candy bar" phones are shrinking like nobody's business lately, phablets are where my comfort zone exists nowadays. I kinda want to have the pickup at least somewhere where my mouth is, and I'm not an alien being, so my mouth isn't behind my ear, and hinges break, so no clamshells for me. I've found that the 7" phablets are a nice fit on the face, if a bit wide for my taste.

Why do you care? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43032565)

I don't care that I need two hands to do any of those things... Why don't you just go on with our life and let me have my big screen and battery?

As big as I need -Tablet Size (4, Insightful)

thatDBA (2626877) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032569)

Those are some of the dumbest, most arbitrary reasons to tell someone their phone is too large - is he/she being paid by Apple? I want a phone with a screen large enough for me to read web pages comfortably and not need a tablet. I would be fine with a 7 inch phone - not everyone has the hand size and lifting strength of a teenage girl.

Re:As big as I need -Tablet Size (2)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033015)

I would be fine with a 7 inch phone

Until you wanted to make a phone call. I can just barely hold my Kindle one handed phone-style (between thumb and fingers around vertical edges, and my hands are bigger than average. Your 7" phone would be like holding a Kindle to your face.

Saying that, though, a mixture of Pebble /smart watch and Bluetooth headset might just tip me over into swapping from a phone with a big screen to a phablet / tablet with voice capability. That's a whole different question, though

Stupid questions deserve stupid answers (5, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032581)

"Too big" is when not enough people will want to buy it to make it worthwhile to produce.
Anything else is just subjective.

To me, a 9.7" tablet is too big, but iPad's continued sales prove that this is merely my subjective (minority) opinion.

texting (1, Funny)

Spacr (2664663) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032585)

r u sirius? txtg is soo yesrdy ;-)

Phone is for talking (5, Insightful)

billyswong (1858858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032605)

The number ONE question should have been:

Can you comfortably phone someone or receive phone call without resorting to earplug?

Re:Phone is for talking (5, Interesting)

rikkards (98006) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032671)

I think the question they are answering is:
Would you have a phone if your tablet was capable of making and receiving phone calls

Re:Phone is for talking (1)

bostonul (2806867) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032709)

A mobile phone it was only for talking long time ago. You can still buy that kind of mobile phone, you can not judge anyone for how they decide to use a phone. You have loads of choices on the market for the right phone for your needs.

I'm a minority, kill me now (4, Interesting)

Torp (199297) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032629)

But the iPhone 4 is just the right size for me. The 5 feels already too long. I'm worried that if Apple jumps on the 'my phone is bigger than your phone' bandwagon I'll be left with no replacement, as all the Android small phones are el cheapo versions with slow hardware.
Btw, I'm male, and I don't have particularly small hands. I can reach around a 4-4.3" screen with one hand, I just don't want one.

Re:I'm a minority, kill me now (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032729)

I'll assume you haven't used an Android phone lately.

Re:I'm a minority, kill me now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43032763)

I've used a Galaxy Mini 2 recently. Slow-ish, no camera flash.
Show me a 3.5" screen Android phone with most of the iPhone 4S features please.

Re:I'm a minority, kill me now (2)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033063)

Comparing a flagship Apple product to a mid-range Apple product. Good job. Here's 30 which are more comparable [gsmarena.com]

3.5" screen max, 512MB RAM, 1GHz CPU minimum, Android OS, available now. You can choose other options to suit you.

If you're talking about features exclusive to the iPhone (Siri, Retina display, iTunes sync) then you're an idiot.

Re:I'm a minority, kill me now (1)

guises (2423402) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033073)

I'm with you. If I were female I could put a big phone in my purse, but as long at it needs to fit in my pocket I'd rather have something pocketable. Thing is, I also hate iOS so I'm stuck with my Nexus One.

Was thinking about biting the bullet for the Nexus Four, but haven't gone down that road yet.

Meh. I've tried different phone sizes. (4, Interesting)

TigerPlish (174064) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032637)

My preference is still the iphone up through version 4. After that it gets bothersome to carry and use. I'm still reluctant to get a 5 with it's 1/2" longer screen. The old dimensions were just about perfect.

I have a company-issued Galaxy SII. It sits unused on my kitchen counter, calls forwarded to my iphone. I can't stand the SII's size -- and it's really not that much larger than an old iphone - maybe 1/2" all around. I think it's excessively large. I used it almost exclusively for a month and gave up on it. This time any "cool" value of being "different" (android vs. ios, anyone else vs. apple) was destroyed by the way the phone feels in my hand and pocket. Sorry. It just doesn't work for me, and I honestly feel it's the extra size.

It's not like I have tiny hands or anything -- and I'm sure everyone's different -- but I don't want a big phone. I'm sure there are others who think the same thing.

As for the satnav argument presented before, meh and double meh. Why should I put up with the compromises of even a large phone when I have a perfectly good top-shelf TomTom with humongous screen and a speaker that makes itself extremely intelligible at 65% volume even with the music going fairly loudly? That's something neither of my phones can do. For every job, a proper tool, yes?

Re:Meh. I've tried different phone sizes. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43032919)

It's longish but not unmanageable. The weight difference, on the other hand, is staggering. iPhone 5 is like a feather in your hands.

without looking (4, Insightful)

ssam (2723487) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032639)

How about another metric:
Can you dial a useful number without looking at your phone?
On a trusty old nokia 3310 (or similar) I could unlock, dial the last used, dial the top number in my phone book, dial emergency services and various other tasks without looking. There are few circumstances where this could be very useful (or save your life).

I dont think i could do it on any smart phone.

Re:without looking (5, Insightful)

k2r (255754) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032769)

> Can you dial a useful number without looking at your phone?

"Siri, call Sam's business number!"

Re:without looking (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032819)

just for scoring's sake, Android can do the same :-p

Re:without looking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43033005)

Can you dial a useful number without looking at your phone, without sending a recording of your own voice to Apple both containing your voiceprint and the information that you wish to call Sam?

I know virtually the entire menu system of my phone by heart, and I can navigate them without looking. Of course, I can also call people, text people, set alarms, set reminders and everything else I commonly do on my phone without looking. And it runs Symbian, has no Java, has no camera and has no bluetooth. In short: efficient, secure (unless you compare with SEAndroid) and cheap.

Re:without looking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43032889)

Sometimes, your life may depend on other features:

http://m24digital.com/en/2013/01/02/the-whatsapp-saved-the-lives-of-7-hikers-lost-on-a-hillside-in-spain/

meh (1)

kiddygrinder (605598) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032643)

i want the biggest screen i can get without looking like an idiot for holding it to my ear. i do all the stuff he mentioned 2 handed anyway

size counts (2)

secondhand_Buddah (906643) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032653)

I think that 15.6" with a fold out keyboard should just about do it.

#4 (4, Insightful)

rikkards (98006) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032655)

#4 Can you buy a bluetooth headpiece and pair it with your phablet?

If so then the first 3 arguments are moot. I think most people who are buying them recognize that in most cases the "ablet" portion is more important for them than the "ph" portion but don't want to have a phone and a tablet.

Me too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43032657)

  • I have the Samsung Galaxy Note (1) and love it. Nice for reading most material, and I like and use the stylus (kids seem to have endless fun with it too as some overpriced etchasketch). The Note II seems to have improved quite somewhat on the stylus and apps.
  • Yes, I have started to wear mostly cargo pants. It fits the back pocket on my jeans, but you shouldn't sit down like that. (Plus side: zip off legs for summer afternoons.) Some changes to the standard cargo pant pattern might be helpful though: slightly smalled cargo pockets so the thing does not fall over to "landscape" orientation, and moved slightly forward and up so you don't squash the contents behind your knee when squatting.
  • I have acromegaly, like André the Giant pictured in the article, though not as advanced as he. Two words: fat fingers. Hands don't get so much longer as they get broader, in my experience. Pity the Swype keyboard does not do my first language, it's quite awesome in English.

HP Veer 4G (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43032681)

After HP bought out Palm, but before they ran it into the ground, they released the HP Veer 4G.

Tiny phone. 2.8" inch screen. Vertical slider with a physical keyboard that was on the small side of usable. More than sufficient for banging out an SMS or the occasional e-mail. Wireless inductive charging. A tiny phone, great when paired with a tablet.

So, how big is big enough? 2.8" for me. Wishing that someone would bring out a modern smartphone in that form factor... but it seems like the smallest smartphone at 3.5" is the iPhone 4...

Re:HP Veer 4G (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43032847)

I'm often tempted to go back to my Palm Pixi Plus. No other phone, smart or otherwise, has felt so comfortable in my pocket. The 2.6" screen was plenty big for texting and email, which is all I really care about. Fantastic keyboard, too.

From the Department of the Bleedin' Obvious (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032705)

Can you hold the device in one hand and 1) unlock the phone, 2) type out a text message with your thumb, and 3) adjust the volume with the rocker without using your other hand? If not, you might need a smaller phone.

Gee, thanks Professor! I never coulda worked that one out for myself.

Smartphone Screen Real Estate: How Big Is Big Enough?

The answer is: Big Enough is Big Enough, the definition of which varies from person to person and is usually obvious to said person within about five minutes of trying out the phone.

Resizeable phones. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43032711)

Clearly, we need resizeable phones. The phone should unfold to be the size of a tablet when it's in our hands, of course. We also need it to be seamless -- no unsightly hinges or gaps, please. But then when we make a call, we need it to squeeze down to be about 2-2.5 inches wide in our hand, and no more than 6-8 inches long. At a different time, the camera mode should have something about 5 inches by 3 inches, and a good half inch thick would be perfectly acceptable.

Don't laugh at me! *chuckle* But seriously, when we get flexible electronics, flexible displays, and a gel-like glass/plastic screen.. we're mostly there. Then the "phone" will truly be a one device for everything gadget, that expands, quite literally, to fit its current use. Add a slight electrical charge to make its current form rigid after it adjusts to the needed size.

Ok, there's the idea. Get on it, inventors!

Re:Resizeable phones. (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033099)

Hyperopia and sausage fingers rule the world? (1)

elal1862 (129261) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032715)

I can understand the need for 4.2" - 5" screens from a 'sausage finger and less-than-20/20-vision perspective'.
But that leaves us geek girls horribly disenfranchised by the industry!
I'd rather have the same amount of pixels stuffed in a 3" max. (yes, THREE inch) screen. Everything larger feels as completely unnecessary bulk and only makes the design more prone to breakage. And... you need to be extremely 'gifted' to stuff a Galaxy Note in your bra!

Yes, there are some activities that work better with more physical screen space and in those cases anything less than 10" is cramped. But I already have a device for that; it's called a tablet. Horses for courses, DUH

Re:Hyperopia and sausage fingers rule the world? (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032809)

Indeed. I'm a big guy who likes big phones myself, but the one market opportunity I see most are for small phones that don't suck. For some reason small = underpowered these days, which is silly since many people, girls or guys alike, want small phones with top specs.

Re:Hyperopia and sausage fingers rule the world? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43033043)

It takes more engineering effort to fit high-end guts into a small package. Outside of Apple and Blackberry, no-one seems to care to bother.

Nexus 4 - 4.7in - is as big as I would want (3, Informative)

s7uar7 (746699) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032723)

The Nexus 4 is my first touch-screen phone and I wouldn't want anything larger. I can just stretch my thumb across the whole screen while holding it with one hand; any larger and I would either need to use two hands or be prone to dropping it.

What if... (4, Insightful)

itsdapead (734413) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032739)

What if phones came in a range of shapes and sizes so you could choose [samsung.com] the size [samsung.com] that suited you [samsung.com] .

If only we lived in such a world...

NB: Samsung links for illustrative purposes only - different sized phones are available from other manufacturers - I believe Apple will sell you a rather fine phone if you believe that there is Only One True Phone Size. Odd, because Apple offer every other product line they do in a range of form factors...

Seriously folks - the right size of phone depends on your personal priorities. If you're a heavy voice/txt user then maybe a smaller, thumb-friendly phone is for you. If you only send the occasional voice call or txt, but want web, email, navigation, games in your pocket then phablets are more attractive. The Galaxy Note II is about the minimum size to be useful with a stylus and/or split screen multitasking - but maybe you don't want to use those (Samsung's split-screen multitasking is impressive, but I admit that the only reason I ever use it is to show people how impressive it is...)

Re:What if... (1)

MultiPak (2475794) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032837)

I never get my stylus out in public, all those different hands on it, urrggghhhh, and certainly not just to impress people.

Re:What if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43032945)

What if phones came in a range of shapes and sizes so you could choose [samsung.com] the size [samsung.com] that suited you [samsung.com] .

It would be awesome, but they don't. Small screen size is usually accompanied by a slow processor, tiny amount of RAM and sub-standard specs. The first one you link to comes with Android 2.2 FFS. So it would be great if we could by the same overall phone in different form factors, but that's not yet the reality we live in.

Much, much smaller (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43032751)

I'm using a Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro (the second version). It's very small but chunky when closed (sort of the same size as the old ericsson handsets), has a good touchscreen, but slides open to show a really good small keyboard, leaving the entire screen clear. Sits in my pocket very easily, and is fast enough for whatever I need.

I think one-thumb typing is one of those silly arbitrary things - is it quicker to do that? If it isn't, why do it, unless it's for sending texts when you should be concentrating on something else.

I was never a blackberry user (did have a Nokia E61 before my last phone, an original HTC Magic). I do like to send emails, and properly punctuated, grammatically correct text messages (not old hat, whatever anyone tells you).

However, the entire mobile phone industry seems to have decided, even in the UK, that phones with keyboards are unmarketable old hat. Sony, having bought out Ericsson, is the last to fall: apparently nobody wants them.

5.5in seems like the sweet spot (for me at least) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43032791)

I've got a Galaxy Note II and admittedly it took a while to get used to the large screen size, but after a few weeks I had to borrow the wifes iPhone and it felt like a puny childs toy in comparison. I love the big screen for browsing the web, playing games and reading e-books...not sure I'd want to go any bigger than a Note II though, I think anything larger would start to get a too unwieldy to use as a phone. I'd love to see an upgraded version that has the same screen size, but better support for windowed applications so I could hook it upto my TV/monitor and use it as a PC. It already does HDMI out with surround sound and you get can a receiver that adds a few USB ports, so the hardware is there, it's just the operating system that is lacking.

Who cares ? (5, Insightful)

obarthelemy (160321) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032795)

There are phones of every size from 2" to 8" (and even 10" with a bit of hacking).

Some people call a lot, some don't
Some people text a lot, some don't
Some people read a lot on their phones, some don't. And some have good eyesight, others not.
Some people spend a lot of time in transit, some don't
Some people have big hands, some don't

There's a right size for every customer and use case.

Re:Who cares ? (2)

ledow (319597) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032881)

And, personally, I'd be quite happy to have "just a phone" that was absolutely miniscule.

What does a phone need? A way to connect a headset (Bluetooth), a way to answer an incoming call (a button on the headset, normally), and a way to dial a contact number (e.g. jogwheel and tiny 10-character display which can double up as caller-ID, but even a tiny watch-size LCD would be okay).

Gimme a phone the size of the smallest iPod nano's and it's fulfilled its purpose.

I'd rather carry that and then a phone-size tablet only for the times I need it, so long as the tablet can't auto-dial out (though using the Bluetooth to share a 3G connection on the nano-phone might be helpful occasionally) and the phone doesn't try and run games / apps / whatever.

Feature creep makes us want to carry one thing that does everything well and that can cause problems (apps spending money, dialling out, interfering with calls, etc.). Gimme a nano-phone and, when I want it, a mini-tablet about the size of the smaller Galaxy handsets. Take the 3G etc. functions out of the tablet and let it do what it does best. Take the app-crap and touchscreens out of the phone and let it do what it does best.

Hell, if you did it right, the pair could probably join together physically smaller than a conventional smartphone if you really wanted them to.

I spend my working life managing computer devices that try to do everything and be everything. I'd much rather not have to deal with that in my personal life too, when I just want to make a phone call. Last time I picked up my phone, it told me that apps needed updating, an OS update was ready and it was running out of internal memory.

Make computers computers, and make phones phones. Make them join, we have perfectly good protocols and cabling for that. But make them specialise in getting out of the user's damn way.

Re:Who cares ? (1)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032917)

There's a right size for every customer and use case.

That's not what she said, admit it.

Why are you so interested in my big phablet? (1)

MultiPak (2475794) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032797)

Why are you so interested in my big phablet (Galaxy Note)? The endless tirade from you busy bodies (U Know Who You Are!) with nothing better to do. Comment such as: Is that a phone in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me; Nice TV; Shouting hello into a pretend massive phone; ... If you do not want one, or you don't want mine, fine, it is only a matter of time till you succumb. My note is perfect and I can operate mine one handed. The answer to this question is to look at the sales boom in the year of the phablet. However, to be fair, the following dimensions are far too big. 147 x 83.5 x 9.8 mm A better question would be how do you secure your phablet, I use F-Secure.

Presbyopia says go big or go home (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43032815)

The "phablet" needs to be small enough I can carry it like a book or in a coat pocket.

Otherwise it needs to be as big as possible so I can see text with my aging eyes
and not miss keys and buttons with my fat fingers.

7 or 8 inches is OK. Bluetooth ear candy is your friend - no need to hold your "phablet" to your ear.

I already have a Nexus 7 with 3G for data - it would be good enough if it also did voice calls over 3G.

4 inch phones are for kids.

audio and microphone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43032851)

pretty much explains itself. don't need to hold the phone to your ear

Happy Note 2 owner here!! (3, Informative)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032873)

Last Xmas I gave myself a Galaxy Note 2, upgrading from an aging HD2. I'm a big screen whore so it was a no brainer.

Yes, at first it's cumbersome and unwieldy and I took a couple weeks of daily usage to get used to it. All reviews pointed this out, so I knew what I was getting into.

Now I can operate it one-handed (ok, I have big NBA-player hands) and it fits in any pocket if I remove the rubbery cover I got at DX.

Any S3 or iPhone 5 is tiny by comparsion. I just don't see mysef going back to small screens.

Bolted to the wall... (0)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032877)

I am old enough to remember the old wooden block phones that looked like a Dalek bolted to the wall and which required two hands to operate: One to hold the ear piece, one to wind the ringer and then you get "Number please???" from the lady at the exchange.

Nexus 4 is my limit (1)

erroneus (253617) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032891)

I am an old school geek. I wear my phone in a pouch on my hip. Keys, and change go in my pocket... wallet in hit pocket.

Can't put those giant larger phones on my hip... it's getting ridiculous enough with the Nexus 4. I do appreciate the higher screen resolutions, but the Nexus 4 delivers that well enough for now. But I also like my Nexus 7 for those other functions like GPS and such... though admittedly, the last time I was doing GPS, it was my Nexus 4.

Fit in my pocket (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43032947)

Small enough to fit in my pocket.

Otherwise, it will end up as a desk phone, just like all the iPhones and Android phones at work, that stay on the owners desk while they go elsewhere, and when they ring, either the owner will rush through the office, or not be around, and the phone will just be a noisy interruption to everyone else. Just like the land line used to be.

Re:Fit in my pocket (1)

billyswong (1858858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033077)

So true.

Please, please, please... (2)

ex01 (2748137) | about a year and a half ago | (#43032949)

Don't perpetuate that name. Yuck.

ph***ets

In soviet russia (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033089)

your smartphone carries you.

That would be "big enough", even if you won't call it smartphone, maybe gundam would be appropiate. But wearing it should be the future.

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