Hey, it’s okay. Sometimes good things come in small packages. 

Smartphones have pretty much followed the same trend since they were first launched: bigger is better. Is that all about to change?

I usually upgrade phones every two years, and every time I went back and used a previous phone it felt like I was playing with a toy. I was always left wondering how on earth I could have used such a small phone.

Since switching to the Nexus 6P I’ve been thinking that this is the biggest screen size I could comfortably use. This got me thinking, have our phones finally reached their size limits?

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Screen size: An upward trend

evolution of samsung

 

Let’s take Samsung’s Galaxy flagship lineup. I’m not talking Galaxy Y and other mid-range devices that the Korean company has produced over the years, but strictly the Galaxy S series. Here’s how their screen size has varied through the years:

galaxy screen size

The first Galaxy S smartphone Samsung produced came in at 4 inches, which was pretty much the industry standard at the time.

Over the next three years the screen size grew to 5 inches, and with the S5 the size has remained steady at 5.1 inches. The only difference between the S5, S6 and S7 is the screen size-to-body ratio, which has still varied.

This has been the same not only for Samsung phones or even Android phones; every smartphone has grown in screen size since the late 2000s, and most are now between 5 and 6 inches (with the odd phablet exception).

A change in perspective: Are small phones a big hit?

When the new iPhone SE was launched this month, my initial reaction was confusion – why even bother with a smaller size phone?

I looked over at my desk and my 5.7” phablet was there covering half the mousepad, and I tried to figure out how I could use a phone that’s almost half that size in 2016. For me, that’s out of the question.

But then I started talking about Apple’s newest phone with my friends and found that surprisingly many of them are quite fond of it, and they’ve been waiting for a return to simpler, four-inch-screen-size times.

What Apple basically did with the SE is take a current generation flagship phone and squeeze it into a 2008 frame. It has all the bells and whistles you have come to expect and enjoy from a smartphone, but it actually fits in your palm – and apparently that’s a thing that was missing from the smartphone landscape.

“When the new iPhone SE was launched this month, my initial reaction was confusion – why even bother with a smaller size phone?”

In a recent Android Central poll following the launch of the iPhone SE, 8,522 people answered the question “Do you care about smaller phones?”

Before the new iPhone’s launch you would’ve thought that the vast majority of users think that bigger is better, right? Well, the top result was indeed just that:

42% of respondents said that they loved giant phones. 

What comes next is surprising:

  • 32% of users said that they need a small phone in their lives
  • 19% said that all they care about is performance
  • 6% said they don’t care about the size at all

At the end of the day, all things being equal, most people in this survey would be more likely to choose a smaller phone.

What’s next: Choose color, storage and screen size for your phone

Customizing phones is going to get a lot easier from now on. Once Pandora’s box opens, there’s no going back and you’ll soon be able to customize your next phone down to the smallest detail.

We’re not far from that scenario either. Samsung, HTC, LG all released “mini” versions of their flagship phones, but so far this meant that you were getting mini specs as well – no fancy camera, less performance out of the processor, less RAM, an overall lesser phone.

But the trend will be to offer the same tech on the inside, with just different sizes. Sure, you could pack a bigger battery in a bigger phone, but other than that there’s no reason why smaller phones should be inferior in the future.

So I’m calling it now: it’s only a matter of time until you’ll choose the screen size along with the color and storage size of your new phone.

What do you think? Do you like bigger or smaller screens better? Why? Chime in in the comments below!

Image source: 1und1.de, techinsider.io, connect.dpreview.com

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