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I Hate Today’s Smartphones.

galaxy s5 s4

They are all too damn big. Bigger, bigger, bigger. Bigger is better. Bigger means more value. Bigger means more will buy them. Bigger. BIGGER.

BIGGER.

I can’t stand it. Outside of Motorola and Apple, no one wants to make a phone you can actually use anymore. Well, use with one hand efficiently that is. It’s one giant race to see who can do it bigger, with more pixels and megapixels and inches and batteries. Why? Stop it already, Samsung, LG, Sony, Oppo, and the rest of you. I don’t want to use two hands just to control my smartphone. 

People wondered why we showed so much praise to the Moto X last year? This is why. Because you can handle the phone in one hand without fuss. You don’t have to adjust your grip to get to the notification bar and then again to get back down to your navigation buttons. You don’t need two hands to take a picture. You don’t need a separate bag to carry it in or JNCO jeans; it actually fits in your pocket, along with a car key, and maybe even some gum.

Samsung had it right last year with the Galaxy S4, but they completely screwed up this year on size with the Galaxy S5. Just look at that picture. The display on the S5 is 0.1″ bigger, yet the phone is substantially taller, wider and more squared off. Why? You can’t tell me the heart rate monitor and barely-there-waterproofing required the extra girth? Holding the S4 is a dream with its subtle rounded corners and edge-to-edge display, while the S5 just feels like another squared-off, mega-phone. I thought the Note series was supposed to be the “phablet?”

As for the HTC One (M8), well, do we even need to talk about it? I don’t think HTC could have made a taller, more awkward-to-use phone, even if it is pretty to look at. Thanks for the BoomSound, HTC; no thanks, for the Manute Bol height.

I just want someone to make a “mini” phone that isn’t a low-end knock-off of the flagship. Sony tried withe Xperia Z1 Compact, but since Sony can’t figure out how to distribute outside of the UK or put a decent display in a phone, who cares. The One (M8) Mini is already rumored to be a garbage entry-level device, just like the S5 Mini will be. The LG G3 Mini could be something, but it’s too early in the rumor cycle to tell.

And look, I get that there are millions out there who want a massive phone with an S Pen and dual-window multi-tasking business, that’s just not me. I want a phone that’s still a phone, not one that’s on the verge of becoming a tablet or that will dwarf my head if I take a call. I want to pull it out of my pocket and use it with the same hand. Now that I’m a dad, I rarely have two hands free, so you can see why I am even more desperate for something manageable.

When this year’s first flagships started rolling out from Samsung and HTC, I was pretty excited to see which would win me over. But now, I’m stuck deciding if this massive phone that’s a pain in the ass to use is better than that massive phone that’s an even bigger pain in the ass to use. In the end, I think I’ll just pass on them all for now and stick to my Nexus 5 and Moto X, two phones that were built for the average person’s hand. And then when I finally get sick of them, maybe Motorola will be ready to release their next.

  • Ewizzle

    wow, need some cheese with your wine? Sorry you have tiny girly hands. Using my HTC M8 one handed just fine thank you.

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  • Jozinko

    I love big phones and I cannot lie!

  • Luciano Capocci

    Hey! Sony did put a nice display on the Z1C, it’s just a pity it’s not getting enough distribution.
    Aaaand it was (thankfully) the last Sony phone with that stupid Anti-Shutter Film attached. My Xperia ZL is full of scratches because of it.

  • Gramps
  • Disq_This

    *plus out a Note 3* Wow that S5 is small.

  • stancold

    Since getn my note2 and now my note 2 its 5.5 at least or bust . 4.3 at tge time was the acceptable norm and iPhone 5 n 5s still were the mega small 4 inches . Not that id ever buy an iphone as it is far too restrictive and android well android isnt . Now the trend setting samsung has forced apple to follow their lead with a larger 5 to 5.5 inch screen on the iPhone 6 . As for me it goes a little something like this .
    Android4Ever Samsung4Life .
    Peace My Ninjas

  • Ian Case

    There was an OpEd piece on the Verge a while back about them interviewing execs from big OEMs and asking them why they don’t make proper smaller versions of flagships. They said people don’t want them but failed to provide any evidence when asked ‘How did you come to that conclusion? You’ve never OFFERED one for sale to find out if the sales are there.’

  • Eltahur

    Absolutely correct! Stop it with the big watches please.

  • Ryanmax

    Samsung galaxy S5 fails to impress thier users see here goo.gl/avFqfu

  • Dan

    Agree wholeheartedly. Ditched my S3 for a Moto X a few months back, loving every second. Phone is so perfectly sized for me.

  • John

    This has to be the dumbest article I have ever read. And you run this site??? Race to have more pixels? How about the real point..EASIER TO SEE MORE ON THE SCREEN. Are you mad that TV’s keep getting bigger? You’d rather use an old 13″ square TV? If you are so annoyed with using one or no hands GET THE SMART WATCHES or a bluetooth. I’m very happy for the bigger phones and judging by sales most people are too. I have a Note 2 and I have never once “held the phone to my head”. I use speakerphone or bluetooth. Let’s go backwards 20 years to pagers.. they were easy to hold in one hand and had a nice tiny screen. /sarcasm

    • Cesar

      Your TV analogy is horribly flawed. TVs are meant to be viewed from a distance and don’t need to be held to be used. Phones need to be interacted with physically. The whole point of a mobile device is to take it with you in a pocket or bag and be able to use it on the go. Often, this means using it with one hand which, as Kellen pointed out, is much more difficult when the device is the size of your head.

      • t3lancer2007

        I agree with you about TVs. My 46″ TV is too small because I view it from 10ft away. I think Kellen just has small hands though if he has problems with a 5.0″ screen. My Nexus 5 fits perfectly in my hand.

  • BRNSMRF

    Still got my Nexus 4. Praying for the release of another 4.7 inch phone

  • Ken Archbold

    Really…. That was your news editorial. Okayyyyyy…..
    Sent from my galaxy note 3

  • BOB Dudek

    Moto x32g.. My WIFE’S.. Device
    . HTC ONE m7..mine.
    She had a choice of ANY device after the D4 finally gave up the ghost.

    5 minutes with X and that was it. The do any thing with one hand.. Swift key.. Shake the camera.. Just does everything good .. device .

    I really hope the MOTO X-2 has the upgrades that matter.. I would love it… Swappa will be loaded with M7′s

  • Chandler Scarborough

    Totally disagree. I’m hoping the Note 4 will be 8 inches! The iPhone is so tiny that it’s useless for anything other than phone calls.

  • ki11ak3nn

    I can use my G2 one handed no problem. 5 inches is where phones should stop. S4, G2, N5. Perfect phones. Nothing bigger than that. My 2 cents.

  • Guest

    This was exactly the main reason I went to the iPhone 5S… My Droid DNA was just too big, just too much.
    It’s almost like Android phones have taken this turn to becoming more than phones as priority, whereas the iPhone is still primarily a phone. Android users are obsessed with having bigger and more powerful phones, but to what end? Why is all that necessary? What are you doing that’s so processor-intensive on your mobile device that you can’t pick up a laptop or tablet and do it? These were the questions I couldn’t answer for myself when I decided to ditch my DNA for the 5S. I live in SoCal, I drive around, and sometimes I get lost. It happens. Deal with it. But when it came to pulling up Google Maps for directions, I had to pull over so I could use both hands and figure out where I was and how to get where I needed to be.
    In Apple’s defense- from a hardcore Android user, we’re talking a complete rom-infested, tweak-the-crap-out-of-it freak- the 5S is very simply designed, very stable, and just a solid product… There’s just enough tweaking capability to keep me happy, and not so much that it’s a laboreous task to go and manipulate the way the OS does/displays something. That getting lost scenario I mentioned? Where I had to pull up Google Maps? Yeah, I can do that one-handedly on the iPhone, without pulling over, without wasting time, and without too much interruption. It’s not perfect, but it’s an improvement.

    I’m not a kid anymore, the specs don’t excite me; I can respect the
    specs, but they aren’t the reason I buy mobile devices any longer. The trend that Android has taken
    in the past year or two has begun to hinder me, so that’s why I left.
    Maybe in the future I’ll jump from iOS back to Android, but until they go back to being ‘just a phone with small perks’ instead of ‘big perks and also a phone’, I think I’m going to stay on this platform.
    Keep in mind this is the first iPhone I’ve ever owned, and the first Apple product I’ve ever owned- it wasn’t an easy choice to make, but when it boiled down to it, these were questions I couldn’t answer: “Why do I need that much processing power? (What am I doing on my phone that I can’t do on a laptop or tablet?)” “Why do I need such a huge screen? (How often do I really watch movies or play games on my phone that I can’t do on a tablet or a laptop?)” and statements like, “I just want my phone to be a phone first and foremost, everything else is secondary.”
    I
    need products that help me in my life and help me become more efficient
    in completing my tasks, not hinder me.

  • Trapper Jim

    There are a lot of Baby Boomers out there that are tired of reading text on their iPhone with a magnifying glass. With bifocals the new M8 and S5 is just about perfect for the over 65 crowd. In addition a lot of BB’s lose some of their manual dexterity from complications of arthritis and nerve damage from degenerative bone diseases.

  • Higher_Ground

    I always use two hands. Maybe it’s because I have small hands, or maybe it’s because i don’t find one handed use good for much besides checking the time, entering my pattern password, or accessing toggles and notifications. Swyping works MUCH better when you hold the phone in your other hand.

    Also, I think the lack of tablet sales means that people are still looking for a screen to consume media. Can’t say that I’ve ever heard someone complain that the TV or computer monitor was too big :-)

    • Cesar

      You can’t effectively compare a phone to a TV or computer monitor as neither of those are things that you need to physically interact with like you would a phone.

  • rutgersjaffo

    Could not disagree more. My Note 2 is the best piece of technology I have ever owned and as someone who deals with a large amount of documents with my profession it is wonderful to have a large screen. I can see where this would be a problem, however, for those who have tiny delicate hands, lol…

  • blairh

    ABSOLUTELY SPOT ON.

    2014 is the year, so far, where flagships are getting larger and heavier. And it SUCKS.

    I always envisioned a redesign being something that gets smaller and thinner while adding to previous performance. Aside from the more curved back, the M7 is so much more appealing than the M8. The S5 is a larger and heavier S4. The Z2 isn’t bigger than the Z1 but it’s still super big and terrible ergonomically.

    This is what Apple does right. They’ll release a 4.7″ iPhone 6 and it will probably be as large if not smaller in dimensions than my Nexus 5. People value compact devices. The lighter and smaller your phone is, the easier it will be to use with one hand.

  • JolleyMan

    My Moto X is the perfect size. I can’t see any reason to want a bigger phone.

  • james macy

    Way off base a majority of customer base wants larger phones, the mega sold great here, stores couldnt keep them

  • Tran Nguyen

    Sorry, I loved big phone. I think that you use the phone (no smartphone) only for communication (calling and texting) and nothing else.

  • Sporttster

    Got the N3 and it is big for sure, but I love the fact the screen is so large! Makes watching movies on the thing great and surfing is as well. I wouldn’t go much bigger and maybe even a tad smaller but not by much. If I wanted a pocket toy I’d have gone with a iPhone or something that sized. I would love to get the One 1 won whatever it’s called. Sounds like a killer phone but not on Verizon. That phone is tempting me to go T-Mobile just to get it. Bet the camera on that thing is excellent…

  • odeiosenhas

    Yeah!!! Let’s change the entire industry because YOU want a smaller smartphone. ¬¬’

    • Cesar

      Yeah!!! Let’s make baseless assumptions because YOU feel personally attacked by an online article. ¬¬’