Screen Size Matters [Opinion]

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Today, reviews of the Galaxy Nexus are being released left and right (the best video review is easily from The Verge). Seeing the device in action makes me even more certain that the latest version of Android is from a brand new Google. They’ve changed things in a very dramatic way. Things like camera filters and multi-tasking have become not only better, but delightful. I’ll admit that I wholeheartedly believed the next Android update would just bring Honeycomb to the phone – something I didn’t want to see happen. Instead, Google brought a totally revamped Android. As Joshua Topolsky of the Verge noted, the differences make Gingerbread feel like Android 1.0; I don’t think he’s exaggerating.

I’ve never been more excited about a phone that I don’t want to own. I’m ecstatic to get my hands on the Galaxy Nexus, but the phone is massive (5.33 x 2.67 x 0.35 inches). I’m a big guy (I’m about 6’3″), but my hands are pretty normal sized. I love the feel of the Droid Incredible in my hand, but phones like the Inspire 4G just feel too big. Do they fit in my hand? Absolutely, but they’re not comfortable. I’m going to reserve my final judgement on the hardware until I can actually get it in my hand, but from a distance the hardware feels like the last massive batch of phones available on Verizon. 

There has been a trend for the last year or so to slowly increase the size of every phone for some reason. For example, the original Droid and its lackluster successor, the Droid 2, both sported 3.7 inch screens. The Droid 3, on the other hand, was bumped up to 4 inches. While 4 inches is great for web browsing and watching video, it’s on the cusp of being too large for many users.

Take a look at the specs for the latest phones on Verizon:


Motorola Droid RAZR
5.15 x 2.71 x 0.28 inches.

HTC Rezound
5.08 x 2.58 x 0.54 inches.

Motorola Droid Bionic
5.00 x 2.60 x 0.40 inches.

These phones are gigantic. Every major Android phone to be released on Verizon this year has had at least a 4 inch screen size. I don’t think there’s a massive difference between 3.7 inches and 4.0, but it’s definitely noticeable, especially when you make the jump from 3.7 to 4.3 or larger.

I know that part of the screen on the Galaxy Nexus is used for the software buttons, but it’s still a very sizable phone. I always scoffed at the idea of having a phone like the Dell Streak – it’s just too big to really be a phone, but lately it seems like that’s the only option. Am I the only one here that likes a smaller phone?

Over the past two years I’ve owned several phones (the Touch Pro 2, Droid Eris, Droid, Droid 2, iPhone 4, and Droid Incredible). I never once found myself thinking that I wanted the screen to be larger. I definitely wanted the resolution to be larger on most of these (especially the Eris), but I was always happy with the screen size. I don’t think having a giant screen on a phone gives users any discernible advantage.

If anything, I think large screen devices are a disadvantage because they need more power, tend to be larger (read massive), and tend to be much heavier. Why would I want to watch a film on a small screen if I can watch it on my computer? I’d much rather have a small, powerful device that let’s me do minor tasks like respond to emails, browse the web, read books, update Twitter, and other minor tasks. The draw of a larger screen for media just doesn’t make sense to me.

It seems like device manufacturers are convinced that people want these giant phones, but I’m not convinced that everyone really wants them. Are manufacturers responding to what you want, or are they just making bigger phones simply because they can. Sound off in the comments to let us know why you prefer smaller or larger screens.



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