Big Phone, Small Phone: Does It Matter?

I've long been a fan of "smaller" smartphones, but that's kept me pretty firmly in the Apple camp. What kind of difference does that extra screen real estate actually make?

No, it's not that I'm a raving Apple fanboy; my mantra has long been that I prefer to use products that work for the task at hand — and I'm not blessed with particularly large hands. That's made many of the larger premium smartphones a bit of an issue for me on long-term usage grounds, as I've found it annoying to use a phone that I can't fully operate single handedly.

That's meant that my day to day phone has been an iPhone 4S for a while now; my work means I've usually got a couple of phones on the go at any one time, but only one gets to wear my SIM and be my primary work tool. There are smaller Android phones, but very few (outside perhaps the Motorola RAZR M) that offer both a high-end experience and a small form factor. Above a certain size, my brain said, and I may as well grab a tablet or laptop anyway.

I've been pondering on that choice for some time now, and wondered if it was as much a matter of habit as actual utility. With that in mind, for the next month, I'm going to switch over radically, ditching the iPhone 4S in favour of something a bit larger. Quite a bit larger, actually; if I'm going into this full steam, then the truly massive Galaxy Note II has to be the best bet here. At the end of a month, I'll decide if smaller or larger phones really do matter to me — and why. While I'm only guest editing Lifehacker for today, I'll pop back with a quick guest post on my observations as well. For now, what's your thoughts on the mobile phone size issue, and will I regret or rejoice in a month's time?


    I don't have a particularly large phone (it's a 4 inch screen), but I don't really mind. I might like to go a little larger when it's time for me to upgrade next year, but not too much larger. I look at some of the larger phones like the S3 and wonder whether that's crossing the line into territory where it's not comfortable to use. But, plenty of people use them with no problems. Despite the large screen they have been very well designed.

    Something like the Note 2 however, I'm not so sure about. If I didn't already have a Nexus 7 tablet I might consider it, but since I do I think I'll prefer to keep my phones on the smaller side.

    the writer seems to be a man of extremes, going from tiny to humongous! give yourself a chance by going mid-size

      The average size of a mobile phone screen is 3". That would make the Iphone's 4" screen large, not tiny. If Alex were to go mid-size as you suggested that would mean getting a smaller phone.

    My mum loves her new large HTC handset (I forget the exact model - it came on a $60 Optus plan). The screen size means she doesn't need to use the stylus she bought to operate her older phone.

    I have friends who have had 2 generations of Note and they love the big size.

    On the other hand my brother loves his tiny little Sony Ericson Android thing which is about 1/4 of the size of my Galaxy Nexus.

    If anybody but Apple made a high-end smartphone in the "smaller" end of the spectrum, I'd be all over that. Unfortunately, that just doesn't seem to happen, so I am stuck with ever-growing screens if I want to feed my gadget lust.

    Personally I stick with a smaller form factor so I can have my phone and wallet sit paralell with each other rather than stack on top of each other, giving a man a bulge where the bulge shouldn't be.

      Most pants have two pockets. Wallet goes in one, phone goes in the other.

        Which pocket do your keys go in then? Surely the one with the wallet, to prevent scratching the phone. But now you need somewhere to put your sunglasses, and you can't put it with the keys, because they will scratch the sunglasses, but you can't put them with the phone, because they will scratch each other.

        I have yet to find a satisfactory solution to this problem. Using the phone for everything in your wallet won't solve the problem, because that removes the one item in your pockets that won't scratch everything else.

          So your phone and wallet go in the same pocket, and your keys and sunnies can't go in that pocket because they'll scratch the phone/each other. So then the keys and sunnies must go in your other pocket. But you can't put sunnies with keys because they'll get scratched.

          So it doesn't work even if your phone and wallet are in the same pocket.

    I currently have Galaxy Nexus, which is noticably bigger than my old Nexus One. I was initially surprised byt the size of it at first, but now it doesn't even feel that big.

    If I were a woman I'd be rolling with a note 2 or even an ipad mini with BT headset if apple had made that an option, the phones live in handbags no real restrictions on size.
    But being a guy the problem of comfort in your pockets is a fine line.

      I like my phone in my pocket - but women's pockets are TINY!

      So I make my own, pockets that is, my One X is generally sticking half out of my pocket

        tiny? I think you mean non-existent. 9 out of 10 women's clothing items seem to have no pockets or, worse still, *fake* pockets. Which means someone else's pockets (mine) have to stand in!

    to the writer,

    plz try middle size screens, before trying Note 2.

    nexus were the best bet.

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