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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.

  • 213ninja

    if someone wants a phone that they can do everything on with one hand, that’s fine, that’s their choice, but can we stop with the nonsense lies about bigger phones not fitting in your pocket? if you wear men’s pants sizes, any of them, any cut, even the biggest phone will fit fine in your pocket. i am able to pocket an s3 and a note 3 side by side in my slim cut jeans pocket, so anyone who says these larger phones are not pocketable must be referring to children’s pants.

  • Eric Sorensen

    You sound like Geller. Except Geller will change his view when the jumbo Iphone comes out.

  • gunslinger

    i like my galaxy s4. i think 5″ is about the biggest i could go. i had the thunderbolt and the 4.3 was just on the small side. i’m thinking 4.75 would be a sweet spot.

    but i do agree that after a certain point, a large “phone” becomes a mini-tablet with call capabilities. and i believe there is a sweet spot for everyone. some people have very small hands, some with large. as long as phone manufactures put out quality phones i the areas, why knock it?

    but IF they are only going to 5+ then yes, that’s a problem.

  • BillySuede

    love my big phones. note 3 all day.

  • Linx

    THANK YOU!!!!! I thought I was the only one to feel this way. Sorry phone manufacturers, MY HANDS AREN’T GETTING ANY BIGGER! Stop the madness!

  • Ziich

    I completely agree. The 2014 flagships are all to big for me. I really like the size of my nexus 5 with its slightly smaller than 5 inch screen. Give me a phone with slightly smaller bezels top and bottom and I’ll be in dreamland in terms of size.

  • Kris

    I hear ya. Thanks to Scamsung there is frenzy to make the phones bigger and bigger… and also thanks to dumbo android fans who were all aaahing and ooing at the gigantic displays.
    Yes.. Apple and motorola have it right. One hand use is a must for a smartphone. If you need bigger screen size when seated on your couch.. grab a tablet or a laptop.

    • 213ninja

      no thanks. i’ll stick to my note 3 that fits in my pocket and has one-hand mode if i absolutely need it….

      • Kris

        Even with the one handed option to resize the screen in the galaxy note 3, you still have to hold that behemoth with one hand and that’s where it gets clumsy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the note has its use to a select group… But it’s not the daily driver for most
        —– Reply message —–

        • 213ninja

          that’s a pretty massive “select group”……you’re talking about millions of people.

          not the daily driver for “most” on this blog, sure everyone who has read one page of comments knows that about this crowd (although there has been quite a turn out of non-moto junkies in this thread)………but anyway, definitely not “most” around the world… look at how popular gigantic phones are in the Asian market…..bottom line, companies are making bigger phones because consumers are buying bigger phones, by the millions.

          as for holding the note with one hand, my wife uses a note 2, she has petite hands, and she doesn’t have a problem.

  • Asmodai

    I would just like a phone with a 4.5″ screen or less, 720p resolution, Snapdragon 600, and 2GB of RAM. Why is that so much to ask for? Either you have a giant 5+ inch 1080p phone with a Snapdragon 800 class SoC or you get a crappy 1GB RAM and Snapdragon 400 SoC on a reasonably sized 720p budget phone… where is the middle ground?

    • 213ninja

      moto X is 4.7 inches, i’m sure that extra .2 isn’t worth going with a budget phone…..

      • Asmodai

        The Moto X (and Droid Mini for that matter) are last years phones. The article is expressing frustration that there don’t appear to be any similar models in the pipeline this year. That’s what I was agreeing with. To quote from the article “In the end, I think I’ll just pass on them all for now and stick to my Nexus 5 and Moto X”. My contract is up in a little over two months and the best I have to look forward to is a phone that will have been out for over 9 months? The upcoming S5 Mini and HTC One (M8) mini have worse specs than the Droid Mini released last year, WTF! My contract happens to be up on the first day of Google I/O… I’m praying that something comes out by then but I’m not optimistic.

        • 213ninja

          ah. has there been indication that moto is going bigger this year? or just speculation because of the market trend? i don’t recall hearing any rumors….

    • joejoe5709

      That’s a mid-range phone. Sounds like the Moto X or Moto G specs. Personally I don’t understand why they can’t fit nearly the same specs as a flagship into a smaller footprint. Even if they charged a little more for it, I think it would sell well. Think of it as a sports car or a luxury coupe in relation to the automotive world. Big engine in a small body… get it?

  • Travis Sorenson

    Welcome to my life. I am a bigger guy and buying stuff made for me is a nightmare. Go to a mall and try to find a size 16 shoe. Go car shopping and find a car with enough legroom besides a truck. I love my note 3. It’s the first phone that feels normal in my hands. Now that big phones are the norm I enjoy having a good selection. And if anyone wants to make the argument that “well they still make things in your size to purchase…” Guess what? There are still phones that are smaller (moto x, etc) that you can buy too. I understand I’m in the minority but if you don’t like it, don’t buy it.

    • 213ninja

      word.

  • James Walker

    Let me explain from another angle (which i think you should certainly address in an update or new post). I have been a huge advocate of large screens, and ill tell you why. I, for the past 5 years, have not had a tablet. So my cell phone was my primary mobile source for entertainment and connectivity. I used my phone primarily for web browsing, youtube watching, and game playing over my laptop. With those 3 key purposes, the BIGGER, the BETTER. When the note 3 came out, which utilized the large screen in an awesome way, i was completely sold.
    Today however, i stand at a different scenario, angle, situation. I have recently purchased an iPad Air. I think Apple got tablets right with this one, but thats for another day. BUT!! Now that i have a tablet which i use to fill those three needs, screen size has suddenly become obsolete, moot. And actually, a phone like the moto x now makes much more sense to me (my current daily driver is the 5″ Droid DNA). So I am actually considering going to a smaller phone now that i have my iPad, a notion which would have been preposterous to me a couple months ago.
    Summary point. If youre using your phone as your sole source of those three things, it makes sense to have a screen you dont have to squint at when watching videos or playing games. If you have a tablet, then i can clearly see your argument. Situations and preferences. Lucky for us, we live in a market with quite a few options, and you can voice your opinions to OEMs, motioning for smaller, premium phones. Or if you agree with Apple’s mantra that we have the ‘perfectly sized’ phone, and there is no need for a large phone, then maybe you should get an iPhone.

    • Higher_Ground

      I definitely agree wrt to owning a tablet. The same can probably be said about not owning a laptop, too.

  • Carlton Crasher

    I will say after having an issue with my nexus 5 microphone not working at all, I bought the note 3 and while dislike the llocked boot loader for cm based Roms, it did give me enough reason to sell my nexus 7.. Yeah the nexus 7 was bigger but the only reason I had it was for when I needed a bigger screen without using my laptop…the note 3 is the perfect size for viewing vs portability in my opinion but it isn’t very nice for one handing it.

  • Rick Wilson

    Congrats on becoming a dad. I agree with you on today’s phone are becoming too big and I like my Nexus 5. The project ara is something I am interested in, plus there will be 3 different sizes.

  • http://bane-tech.com/ Joshua Bane

    I see your points. But personally I actually like the bigger phones. Love my Note 3 and not for business purposes.

  • BAoxymoron

    Honestly I like the bigger phones better and I’m not talking phablets nor do I have huge hands(actually they’re fairly average). I have an s3 and it feels tiny I like the physical size of the s5, though, I agree it should have increased the screen size more than 0.1 in. As for the M8 I can’t really say though I didn’t mind the size of the m7, but since it’s merely a matter of adjusting your hands a 1/4in higher but it shouldn’t be that much harder to reach well other than the power button placement but I think we all agree that’s stupid…

  • rfranken

    every phone i’ve bought was bigger than the one before it. every time i say i dont want a bigger phone. everytime i get a bigger phone and then say…i can’t have one smaller than this one.

  • Dealsend

    Why bi$#€#ing ? Buy the small ones. It’s not like someone points a gun in your head when you buy a smartphone.

    • Cesar

      The problem is that every OEM, outside of Sony and Motorola, seems to think that anyone who wants a phone with a smaller form factor doesn’t care about specs, and that’s just not true. Just because we don’t want a phone with a 5.5 QHD display that will be the size of our heads when we pick up a call, doesn’t mean we don’t care about having a good amount of RAM, a speedy processor, or an actual usable amount of storage. People who enjoy big phones don’t have this problem, but those of us who prefer a smaller form factor are forced to choose between size and specs. It’s unfair.

  • PhoneFreak

    Amen to this post ! I love that I’m not the only one that feels this way.
    The Moto X nailed it as the perfect size and is still my daily driver too. The only things they would really need to change for the Moto X2 to be a hit would be beef up the processor, raise the screen resolution and improve the camera quality, They could make it a hair thinner, but keeping the same shape/size wouldn’t bother me either.

    • Cesar

      As a Moto X owner, I’ve never understood why people want to increase the screen resolution. 720p looks perfectly good on a 4.7 inch screen, and changing that to 1080p will be an almost indiscernible difference at the cost of increased battery consumption. I do agree, though, that the camera needs improvement.

  • Josh Marshall

    Who says you have to buy one of the “big” phones? Stick with a size you like. I like the 5″+ phones because I spend most of my time browsing. Rarely do I use it to talk.

  • lambchops

    I think you need to go to the doctor and check to see if you’re still a man or not. You sound an awful lot like a nagging women.

  • jnt

    While I’m not anti-large-phone, does it not seem like the movie Idiocracy would’ve been complete with some scenes of a bunch of people talking on their phablets? That’s how I tend to feel about over-sized devices *for me*. I don’t place that judgment on anyone else, but I tend to feel like I’m being overly “showy” (can’t think of a good word) when I pull out a BAP (“big ass phone” per my wife).

    • 213ninja

      what does “overly showy” even mean?

      • jnt

        Bad choice of words, sorry… draws additional attention to me. Keeping in mind I’m pretty a pretty boring, t-shirt and jeans guy with no style whatsoever. That’s also why I said it’s just a me thing.

        • 213ninja

          to each his own but i wouldn’t worry about how it looks next to your head…

  • JohanV

    Nexus 5. Perfect size. Perfect phone.

  • slow88lx

    News flash: I actually use my Note 3.

  • paulsg63

    I just got the S5… I think its great. It fits perfect in my hand.. feels good. The problem with anything smaller and I gotta squint to see it. My Note 3 was the best though!

  • b00ky

    To each their own. Although there is definitely a trend towards bigger phones, at least the Android platform gives us plenty of options to choose from. Hopefully, by this point, there is a suitable phone for each of our needs and preferences. I went from a GNex to a Note 3 and wasn’t sure how I would like/adjust to the larger phone. Now, I don’t even think about it. In fact, I might even have a hard time getting a smaller one now that I am used to all of the screen real estate.

  • rediculous

    This after a post about the HTC last one M8 mini… get a grip whiner. If you don’t like a full size phone opt for the mini version, how fuc*ing hard is that concept to grasp. We get it, your moto x is perfect. So stick with it and be happy with it. Let everyone else have choices. All you men with vagina hands, shut up and realize you have some nuts between your legs.

    • jnt

      Women love men with vagina hands… #justsayin ;)

  • http://couleecreative.com/ Jared Chelf

    Well said Kellen! Screen real estate and larger specs sell unfortunately, scale over usability is the result.

  • MikeSaver

    I said that once before here in the comments about Samsung’s ads bragging about how much bigger the Note was than the iPhone and I got ripped apart by the nerds.

    • jnt

      People are fickle!

  • callumshell1

    You complain about sony phones only coming out in the UK but where is our Moto X?

  • Spaniard85

    LG G2? Same size as an S4…

  • https://www.facebook.com/christopher.johnsc chris_johns

    This is why i love you Kellen…you get it…why i value your articles and opinions over any other android blogger on the net…and a +10000 for the jnco jeans reference lmaoooo…and this is why i am ever so content with my moto x and have no urge to get a new device…just wish it was unlocked but nothings perfect

    • 213ninja

      all phones fit in all men’s jeans. if you disagree you must be rocking jeggings.

  • jpcmoney

    I’d have to

  • John Mozelewski

    Bigger is better. I could never go back under 5 inches

    • SumiDos

      That’s what she said.

      • 213ninja

        me too.

  • MJ

    I agree 100% with you… Big hands here and my Nexus 5 is a good size. I doubt would want to go past 5″/5.2″ on a phone. Manufactures need to realize there is no reason for bigger screens (except for niche phones) and 1080p resolution. Moblie phone display technology is more then good enough right now so they need to focus more on better design, long lasting batteries, faster CPUs, more memory, and better cameras. Oh, and no more damn senors unless for a damn good reason.

  • nbgiant25

    Some of us don’t have tiny hands. My Note 3 is too big for most, but I don’t have to adjust anything to use it normally. Smaller phones, however, I do have to contort to use because of my large hands. How about you stop complaining about something no one is forcing you to buy and stick with the smaller offerings?

    • https://www.facebook.com/christopher.johnsc chris_johns

      i cant eat that burger…i have these tiny hands…

      • portrub

        Get some sliders or burger buddies.

  • wolfxomg

    Even the new apple’s iPhone refresh seems to be a big ass phone again !! I’m happy with my 4.4.2 running Galaxy nexus :D

  • carl rainey

    When we stop buying huge phones the company will stop making them. It is all up to us. The latest and greatest isnt always the greatest.

    • 213ninja

      it is if it’s the latest AND the greatest.

  • Fel Pe

    Bring some cheese to eat together with all this wine…

  • trext

    Amen!

  • Eltahur

    Here here! Stop it with the unwieldy huge phones!

    Thank you Keller for pointing this out.

  • chad

    I agree 100% I really think that these phones are getting too big. I think you should have 2 options, a normal size and a large phone like the S4 and Note used to be. Now they are all becoming too large.
    Are you listening Samsung and all the rest? Please don’t change Moto!

    • 213ninja

      thankfully the market disagrees…

  • Justin Larmay

    It’s a love hate thing. I was really starting to hate the size of this note three only because when texting it’s super hard to reach keys with one hand. Then I tried SwiftKey on it and the problem was solved. I seriously feel like it knows that this phone is too big because all I have to do is make an attempt to reach for a key and SwiftKey just autocorrects and gets the word right. Now that that problem is solved I have no problems with this giant phone.

  • Frank Caldara

    Concordo totalmente….!! I agree

  • danb

    Sony xperia compact ffs

  • hansip

    Seems like you are bashing Sony too much, Decent screen are you kidding? It is the first IPS of their own, so should be at least on par with other phones. Plus if you have the money you can always buy it unlocked. You just don’t know how people in third world country purchase their own premium smartphone fully unlocked. Everytime.

  • chris

    Why you and all these followers praised it so much? Sorry I have MAN(BIG) hands unlike the others.

  • Sony

    Why do you accuse Sony of not releasing small phones? They have. First Xperia ZR and later Z1 Compact – both with flagship specs.

  • Zekemo

    bviously you’ve found phones your little person hands can handle so go cry some where else. You as a journalist sounded like a major douche. “I work for a company that reviews all the great phones and talks about them but I hate them” … Blah blah blah. The cool thing is I’m just a reader and Android enthusiast. I can say whatever I want. I won’t sound professional, scholarly or have proper English but you on the other hand…. Hahaha… You still just look like a cry baby douche bag complaining to people who jdgaf. Enjoy your little phone while the rest of us don’t enjoy reading your crap stories.

  • Sabil V

    we’ll wait ara project!

  • http://www.twitter.com/nblufire12 Nathan Patel

    Kellex went off and I completely agree. These phones have gotten so darn big and there aren’t any viable smaller form factor options. Those mini versions are despicable.

  • Gary Ohanian

    “Sony can’t figure out how to distribute outside of the UK or put a decent display in a phone”

    1. Z1 Compact has a decent display
    2. Sony only has a problem with distributing to US, no problems elsewhere (the world is bigger than just US and UK). Blame your telcos