Open Thread: Have Smartphones Become “Too Big”?


iocean g7 review

It has become common for smartphone to become larger with the release of new generation, but have they now finally become “too big”? Let’s hear your thoughts.

Remember in 2011 with Samsung released the original 5.3-inch Galaxy Note phone? Remember now many people scoffed at that huge “phablet” and said it was simply “Too Big!”. Back in 2011 5.3-inch was pretty huge, but in today’s market it is actually quite small.

coolpad great god and iphone 5s

 

The majority of today’s flagship phones have a display of 5-inch or more, with many of the 2014 devices boasting at least a 5.5-inch display! To accommodate the larger screen size phone makers have had to design phones with thinner bezels and curved rears to keep them comfy, but still screen size is on the up and it isn’t uncommon to see devices getting to the 7-inch mark!

Have Smartphones Become “Too Big”?

Surely there must be a cutoff point where manufacturers say “Ok this is big enough”, and some customers believe that we had already reached it at 5-inch, while others still want more.

Personally, my tastes have changed, I was perfectly happy with my 4.3-inch Xiaomi Mi2, but now could never consider going to a phone with a screen size less than 5-inch, and currently use a 5.5-inch phone (I would say the size is perfect for me).

iocean g7 review

So what are your opinions on this? Do you think that 5-inch or less is the standard manufacturers should be aiming at? Have they hit the nail on the head with today’s 5.5-inch devices? Or do you still want more? Let us know your options, feeling and comments below.

[ Inspired by a post on GizChina.it ]
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62 Comments

  1. tweetycontrabajo
    May 6, 2014

    I tried the THL T200, is 6″
    I got used to it, and when i hold my old zopo c2, it feels too small, with 5″.
    So, i like big phones!
    =D

  2. desponent
    May 6, 2014

    As long as they keep making “mini” phone (which in today’s case mean 4.7″ and below, soon to be 5″ I guess) with good specs, I’m fine with it.

  3. $2548414
    May 6, 2014

    I have been a smart phone user for past 5 years..just my bit..after a series of phones..i am at present with Samsung Galaxy Note 2..with its 5.5 inch screen. Personally i think this is ideal size ..big enough for me to check and answer basic mail , check internet and make calls mostly via BT headset.Bigger screen size would be physically large..smaller , screen size would be tough on eyes. My upgrade would be another 5.5 inch with better screen.and narrow bezels..maybe a 1+1 ??

    • desponent
      May 6, 2014

      Note 3 then, it’s actually a bit smaller than Note 2 since it has even more efficient bezel.

  4. bob
    May 6, 2014

    It seems like 5″ is going to be the standard for smartphone screen sizes

  5. Anto
    May 6, 2014

    I think 5″ and 4,7″ is my ideal size, because it’s fit in my pocket.

  6. Frank Wu
    May 6, 2014

    Personally, I would think that 5″ is the ideal size for all! Easier to hold and balance in one hand and screen display at 1080p is crisp whether viewing text or video!

  7. Edison Dairo
    May 6, 2014

    5.5″ is the best 😀

  8. Zeca
    May 6, 2014

    5″ is OK for me

  9. Allanitomwesh
    May 6, 2014

    6 inch is the line. Lumia 1520 and OPPO N1 are where unweildly begins. Even the super thin bezel Alcatel Hero is a monstrosity. 6.4 is just stupid and 7inch is NOT A PHONE. You can only do so much with the bezels,LG proved this with G Pro 2,so please,stay away from 6″ and above manufacturers,and trying to call them phones,you’re not LG,and they couldn’t pull it off completely either.

  10. desponent
    May 6, 2014

    I’d reckon most Westerner would be fine with 5.5″ but I think 5″ is the limit of one hand operate-able for most Asian.

    • mfmx
      May 7, 2014

      But most Asians don’t care about one-hand operations, they all want big screens now.

      • desponent
        May 7, 2014

        And you’ve asked every single one of them.

        • mfmx
          May 8, 2014

          I have been to China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan etc many times and there is a definite trend for bigger phones. Most young people in the subway have big phones.

          My GF has Chinese relatives, they wanted us to buy a phone for them here in the West and when we suggested a 4.7″ phone they thought it was too small. And all models they were interested in was 5.2″ to 5.7″. A year ago they were happy with 4″ to 4.3″.

          • desponent
            May 8, 2014

            Wow that’s a lot of people in Asia, what a surprise.

            • mfmx
              May 8, 2014

              What a surprise that you are an armchair expert that has no clue what he’s talking about.

              I know what people use in all major Asian cities and what the trend is, you obviously don’t.

            • desponent
              May 8, 2014

              I know sales data and you obviously don’t.

              But of course, your anecdote = fact.

            • mfmx
              May 8, 2014

              Too bad the Chinese and Korean companies didn’t hear of your sales data and are competing with who can release the most 5.5″ and 6″ phones in the shortest time.

              Of course, most cheap phones still have small screens, and people buy them because they are cheap not because the screen is small.

            • desponent
              May 8, 2014

              Oh then all those 5″ or a bit bigger phone with 5″ form factor must’ve been my imagination, have read that those are their biggest seller too, I must be dreaming.

              Thanks for setting me straight!

  11. realjjj
    May 6, 2014

    At this point the limit seems to be the pocket and we kinda got there. Bezels can get a bit thinner and the phone can get a bit thinner to squeeze a couple more mm.Ofc not that many people can afford a big screen so for them screen prices got to drop some more and to get there the high end must go higher res. One could hope that soon the res will be high enough and this race would stop with the focus shifting to other things but it seems that there won’t be time for that since we’ll be getting flexible screens. First they’ll likely cover the sides and then go foldable before going stretchable.So yes we kinda got to as big as it gets but screens won’t stop growing until glasses kill all other screens.
    For now if we say the standard is 4.7 to 5 ,then we can say it can go a bit higher since users get used to the bigger size while thinner phones and lower weight would help with that too.

  12. May 6, 2014

    5 inch is the best. I have 2 phones, one is 4.7 and one is 4.5 😀 😀 😀 … But I still prefer 5 inch or more..

    • desponent
      May 7, 2014

      Edit: wrong reply, sorry.

  13. ED
    May 7, 2014

    YES!!! Way too big….. Personally i think around 4.7″ is the perfect size, and you just cant find a good spec’d phone with that screen size. Crazy. Isnt it supposed to be a MOBILE phone? Not a huge fucking thing larger than your head…..

    • amirexpressir
      May 7, 2014

      there is….jiayu g4s

    • amirexpressir
      May 7, 2014

      or even Iuni u2

  14. KryszKrozz
    May 7, 2014

    7″ phablet way to go man now having a 6.44″ Z Ultra

  15. Jay Eel
    May 7, 2014

    It’s good to have choices: all the way up to 7 inches. People like me who don’t take much but surf net and read pdf and ebooks will love a 7″ phablet. Pair a 7″ Fatblet w/ a bluetooth earbuds and it’s perfect for me on the go: read wherever, talk wherever.

    • Jay Eel
      May 7, 2014

      Btw, can’t w8 for my Ulefone u7 7″ to arrive to replace my 6″. No such thing as “one size fit all”. Choices Rules!! If you don’t like choices, go live in N Korea where Kim Jong-un tells u that u can only use the Arirang smartphone.

  16. mibome
    May 7, 2014

    I love my 6 inch phone (ZP990+), and since I am a tall guy with big fingers, I also have large trouser pockets 🙂 and my phone fits in them perfectly. It has even brought my tablet (which I used to browse at home) to its retirement. Now I really have only this one 6 inch phone that I use for everything and that I have with me all the time; LINE, WeChat, WhatsApp can only run on device anyway. In the back of my mind I am already contemplating the idea of trying out an even bigger screen size, i.e. 6.44 inch, the Iocean G7, perhaps.

    • inez blafla
      May 8, 2014

      Have the same, and very small hands, but do not want to change downwards even if
      you paid me – though I am very tempted by the 1+ ‘s specs and UI,and the OPPO Find 7’s camera:D

  17. May 7, 2014

    The correct answer is, “no”. The market drives the size and specs. The only time the market doesn’t is with “niche” products like the iPhone, where there isn’t enough product options to get any market feedback on which variants are more popular (granted, it’s a big niche, but still a niche).

    Fortunately, the Android market offers enough variety for market demand to dictate the choices for the next generation of features. In fact, Samsung itself has enough variety in just their product line to gauge customer demand for specific features and sizes.

    All of the “this size is JUST RIGHT for me” comments below are useless. who cares about the opinion of 1 consumer, it’s about the aggregated purchasing will of the whole market!

    • Xiaolu
      May 7, 2014

      Yes, but there’s one thing sure: it’s much more easy to deal with 5″, I mean, you can hold and do one-handed use of a reasonable tall phone, but bigger than a certain size, that’s physically impossible. Mine had 4″, now changed for a 5″ and yes, the display is awesome and that… but not that easy to operate. I think I’ll go back to a 4.5″ device with thin bezels + 8-9″ tablet if I need more room.

      • nietjason
        May 7, 2014

        I can use my 6.3 inch phone with one hand just fine
        The only problem is typing with 1 hand since this is very slow

        • Xiaolu
          May 7, 2014

          Sure, and Yao Ming also can… but he’s probably faster than you at one-handed typing! 😛

          Average size hands people CAN NOT use 6.3 inches devices with just one hand (without balance problems).

          • nietjason
            May 7, 2014

            He is 7’6 and im not
            But that raises the question, is it that much of a problem to use both hands when typing?

            • Xiaolu
              May 7, 2014

              BTW, I’m 6’1″ 😉

              My hands are average, and I have problems to pull down the notification bar on my 5″ phone. That’s one problem. Typing is possible, but not as safe as in a smaller device. That’s physics (unless you’ve got BIG hands). I type swyping/swiping (use TouchPal X with “curve” feature) and find it easier with both hands.

            • nietjason
              May 7, 2014

              Im 6’3 and still growing and my hands are just above average i think

        • Gaurav Arora
          May 9, 2014

          Pictures or it didn’t happen 😀
          People with giant hands have issue reaching the top left corner of Note 3, let alone a 6-inch+ phones (the reason why iPhone just stretched by length, and not breadth).

      • May 8, 2014

        You’ve missed my point completely. You’re making a justification for push your preference instead of a size picked by statistical analysis.

        Are you so sure that you’re right, and so distrustful of the judgement of other’s that they’re wrong?

        When you use words like “reasonable” you’re heading into uncertain territory. If everyone thought like you, then the world would ONLY have 4.5″ phones. As it is, there are many choices and as a result, there is also data that can be analyzed to work out where the demand is.

        The end result will be a bell curve with the sweet spot being the size that “flagships” are sold at, with fringe devices that are both smaller and larger than the mean. This is looking like it will settle out between 5.2″ and 5.5″ for the “middle” of the curve, with 4.7″ on the low extreme and 6.4″ on the high side, but only time will tell where it really ends up.

        There is an anomaly now that distorts the curve, and that’s Apple. And since because Apple’s criterion for choosing their screen size isn’t demand driven (it’s based on “Steve’s ego”), essentially, for this purpose, they don’t count.

        • Xiaolu
          May 8, 2014

          Well, first of all, please do note I was one of the people who voted positively your comment. That said, I’ll try to express clear: I’m with all sizes of phones. One more thing… even iPhone has its reason to be (but NEVER would by or have one, even if I were given as a present, the philosophy and screen size aren’t of my taste).

          I’ve used the word “reasonable” and I might have used “a certain size”, meaning that, surpassed that size, it is natural for the vast majority of hands to struggle giving it one-handed use (most of the time I use my 5″ device with both hands).

          I’m a declared fan of Ubuntu and I supported the Ubuntu Edge campaign (paid 630 USD in advance, funding failed and got refunded). The team claimed that for one handed operation, a screen bigger than 4.5″ would just be too big. That’s the reason I point at such a measure. Also, my wife’s Xiaomi Mi2A has a 4.5″ display, but top and bottom frames are much wider than the Edge’s where supposed to be.

          My guess is that even Apple will go for that inches, and not 4.7″ as many sites have been saying, but I must admit I may be easily wrong!

          Last thing, on the past Chinese New Year Holidays I saw one of my wife’s friends pulling out of his pocket a 7″ Coolpad phablet. That guy has normal (if not small) hands; it sure was an impressive moment seeing him use that beast (of course with both hands!) and returning it to his jeans! I really liked the variety of gadgets Android can produce…

    • desponent
      May 7, 2014

      And the market has told that there are still a very large demand for “mid-sized” (in this case 5″ and below) phone.

      Yes who cares? Why is this “open thread” even exist and why do you participate?

  18. MAK
    May 7, 2014

    Hi Andy,

    I like
    phablets that do all my stuff (fact!). If they could have
    “one ring to rule them all” then I believe it’s OK to wish for “one device that
    does it all”. (Bear with me on that one.)

    I much
    prefer to carry a single device rather than a tablet and a
    phone separately. It’s easier and requires less space.

    Bigger
    screen sizes are easier on the eyes and help
    you to view more data on screen. Also, as the OS has evolved, they have
    put more and more info on the screen. Take any old 3.5” phone and put the latest
    android on it. It’s not that it wouldn’t be usable but you would be (at the
    back of your mind) thinking to yourself “wish I had a bigger screen with more
    room”. From what I have seen, even the people who are
    stanch proponents of small screens have moved on to bigger ones. The common sizes
    people go for are around the 4.5” to 4.7” mark (even though devices with smaller screens
    are still available). I think the need to view all their data easily and
    the evolution of the OS features have brought on this change.

    At
    this point I would like your help with a question Andy. Why are
    all 7 inch phablets 16:10? All sub-7” phablets that I have seen are 16:9, why aren’t there any 16:9, 7” devices on the market? I believe a 16:9, 7” phablet would
    be easier to handle. The screen would be narrower than a 16:10 screen. Granted that
    the 16:9 device would be longer but that can be address by making the top and
    lower parts of the phone narrower. Just think; how much space do you really need
    for the speaker, front cam and sensors? The capacitive buttons on the bottom
    and the bezel around them can be narrowed. Currently I feel that all
    manufacturers are
    making the bezels too big and they can do with a trim. I’m a staunch supporter
    of the capacitive buttons on the phone; onscreen buttons just take space
    on the screen, defeating the purpose of getting the bigger device in the first place.

    I
    apologize if this got a bit long. But I would really appreciate your input on the 16:9, 7” devices. Why aren’t the manufacturers making
    those? Is it purely marketing/business (sell as many 16:10 devices then
    slowly move on to the 16:9 and then sell those
    to the same people making a ton of
    money) or is there a technical reason behind it?

    Thanks.

    • May 8, 2014

      Hey, sorry for the delay and thanks for such a great comment. To answer your question, I believe it is partly due to price. I don’t know for a fact but as so many companies are using this ratio it is proabably more affordable to companies when they are designing the product. It is a shame that most Chinese tablet companies are more content with following and keeping costs low rather than innovating, hopefully we will see the same change with tablet maker as we have seen with Chinese phone companies.

      • MAK
        May 9, 2014

        Hey Andy. Sorry for the late reply but thanks for your insightful reply. You have a good point. If this is a standard format then mostly all companies would follow it. Giving something other then this would increase costs.
        Even so, from reading your review of the Orientphone Mega Pro 7.0 (even though it is 16:10), I really like the phone and I think I’m going for it.
        Thanks.

    • inez blafla
      May 8, 2014

      It is also likely to do with the formatting of web sites and games – if the standard is the 16:10 people with a narrower screen would see cropped pictures etc. In the desk top monitor market cost-cutting competitive pressures changed the norm and
      they practically all went from 16:10 to 16:9 format. But as monitors are used in the landscape and not portrait mode, many people were not bothered by the format change and happy to loose an inch/scroll a bit more in a trade off for a cheaper monitor. This is unlikely to be the case with phablets, doubt you are going to get people using them in landscape, also it would counter the objective of easier one handed operation, so unless mainstream business and the design community
      programmers can be persuaded to provide yet another design, scaled to the 16:9, it may not be the way forward, at least not in the immediate future.

      • MAK
        May 9, 2014

        HI. you make an excellent point. I never thought of it that way. Even now all monitors used in designing or working on spreadsheets or for document writing and editing (professional level work) are still 16:10. I saw some images of 7 inch tabs and phones. Web pages look better sized and spaced in 16:10.
        Thanks.

  19. Faux-News
    May 7, 2014

    I say the size kept increasing because there was demand for people wanting a phone that serves most of the functions used as a tablet and avoid needing to buy a separate tablet. But for me personally, i already had a tablet in the early times and i was wanting a phone that clearly separated itself from a tablet and hence disappointed with all good phones coming in big size. Tbh, i stopped using a smartphone for a couple of years when i had the tablet and used a basic nokia instead for phone functions, but when 2 years later i entered the market to find a smartphone i was shocked to see the huge size of the phones and wondering what went wrong with all the people and used to laugh seeing people with huge phones on their ears.

    I would also say, although im not expert on this, that maybe some of the manufactures wanting to use the highest end specs are forced to have their phones in bigger size as they are finding it difficult to fit the top range specs into a small package.

  20. Kamui
    May 7, 2014

    The answer is simply YES. If we still want to talk about the term “tablet” then phone >6.5inch are not phones. “Phablet” is so idiot as a term but also to pronounce.

    I don’t have problem though its good to have choices BUT companies must not forget the people who still want smart-!”[phones]”!. Now the 5 inch became hard to find. 4.0-4.7 is almost nowhere to find in good prices. Only Xiaomi (with the recent discount of Mi2S) and jiayu covers that need.

  21. arsalan
    May 7, 2014

    For me it should be 5.7 inches. I used 5 inches also but didn’t like it’s size. Then I bought 7 inches coolpad but although it is great device, it is difficult to use on daily basis as phone. It is not accommodating in a pocket and difficult to take it out when you receive a call. So I am going back to 5.7 inches. Hope that I find a good one. Waiting for Jiayu G6.

  22. geekwannabe
    May 7, 2014

    Smartphones are like cars now. Not one size fits all. The Nissan Leaf will not satisfy track day kind and a Ford F150 will not comfortably carry some large sized families like maybe a Honda Odyssey can.
    Different folks different needs. Some would like a huge 6.5 inch screen so they can carry one device which does everything they want (play games, watch movies, whatapp, check email etc) while talking is not a big deal so the size doesn’t matter there. Some would want a smaller screen (maybe a 4.5 inch?) phone so that they can type one handed comfortably and at the same time wont feel like they are carrying a brick with them all the time.
    My point is, choice is good. Android and Windows devices are guilty of skimping on good specs for the mid to small screen size segment while Apple is guilty of not having anything in 4.5 inch to 7 inch segment! I say bring them different screen sizes on (like Samsung does but not at their prices thanks) and let the crowd decide!

  23. Yolo
    May 7, 2014

    Well tbh I think that phones are becoming too big. Especially if seems that Chinese phones are getting very big.
    The problem is the aren’t enough small phones let’s say below 4.7″ with high specs.
    While there are plenty 5+” phones with high end specs.
    For someone like me who uses the phone 50% for messaging, 20% for calls and 10 % for Fotos and only 20% for other “smart” activities it is more practical to have a phone below 4.7 inches. I’m using a nubia z5s mini right now but for me it would be ideal if it had 4.3-4.5″ and a good camera (unfortunately the camera of the nubia sucks hard)

    • mmicko
      May 12, 2014

      You can try Samsung S4 mini or Z1 Compact.

  24. May 7, 2014

    Love the bigger phones. I thought a 7″ phablet might be too much, but it’s not. I have two hands and have no issue committing both of them to my phone when I use it. It really does come down to preference and how you use your phone. More and more companies are making larger devices which means there is a demand for them.

  25. Formcode
    May 8, 2014

    I find the lack of 4″ high-end phones disturbing. Not everyone wants or needs a 5″+ screen. They are unwieldy for basic phone functions.

  26. Gaurav Arora
    May 9, 2014

    Short answer: Yes, they are getting ridiculously big.

    Long answer: No! As long as companies like LG (look at Isai FL), Sharp (look at Aquos Xx 304SH) manage to cut down the smartphone’s profile, and fit in more in a small body, I don’t see an issue with a big screen!

  27. Jason
    May 9, 2014

    5 to 5.5 inch is perfect anything bigger is not good, and the screen bezels are very important, thinner bezels are always better. Third what LG is doing lately is great almost the whole front is screen.

  28. eilegz
    May 10, 2014

    of course it is, something like the mi-2 its perfect the mi-3 its too big, for 1080p phone the nexus 5 seems ok

    the one plus one its note size

  29. GS88
    May 10, 2014

    I now have a Xperia T, would like a phone with a bigger screen but with the same (or smaller) outer sizes as the Xperia T (so that would mean superthin bezels like the Xperia ZL or LG G2, but on a bit smaller screen, wouldn’t it be amazing to see the 4,7″ FHD screen of the original HTC One in a device with supersmall bezels?). The size of the Xperia T is just big enough for me, don’t want my device to be bigger than that.

  30. Mohsin Z
    May 11, 2014

    No need for any larger phones. 5 inch the best for smarphones and 5.5 inch for phablets. Even Note 3’s 5.7 inch is unacceptable. This year, note 3 would probably have 5.9 inch screen, which would essentially make it impractical. Plz Plz Plz, stop manufacturers from going north of 5.5 inches.

  31. Chuck Sundalan
    May 13, 2014

    Each to their own, but for me personally, the ideal form factor is a phone that is completely usable in one hand without and reverbs or hiccups.

    I also personally am not quite fond of the idea that the market standard has taken the route of producing larger screens. Seeing as competing companies are introducing that many different kinds of phones–all of which redeeming the same form factor–you’d think variety would be considered.

    It seems as if the competition has also taken into consideration new ideas and in turn result in the obvious rivalry; attaining similar features to their competitors.

    It also goes to make wonder why iPhones still remain a prioritised choice among their fans, and I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s due to their ‘inability to conform to change’ but instead ‘can depend on a reliable product, because it works well enough for them’, which could question if the unchanged form factor is a sub-consciously triggered comfortability or a non-straight-forward choice of preference. 😛

  32. Crake
    May 14, 2014

    The correct answer is YES.
    We almost need a “trolley” nowadays to carry the actual smartphones…

  33. lildwell
    August 26, 2014

    I personally enjoy my 7″ phone. I have fewer typos now and can actually read it.