The Big/Little Balance

I went on a road trip recently, and while I was running my trusty iPhone 5 (the 5s/c wasn’t out yet), a buddy of mine had his Samsung Galaxy S III. We, of course, did the whole Apple versus Android thing, but in the end, one of the things I kept looking at was the size of his phone. It was huge.

Huge, and yet, cool. It was unwieldy to pocket, even though it was only just a half inch wider and taller than my iPhone. It looked cheap, although it might have been because of the peeling plastic screen protector or the regular abuse my friend put it through. But man, that screen. That was cool. Will we ever see that with the iPhone?

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Phablets and Apple

Let’s define the problem here as clearly as possible. People want bigger screens on their phones, as evidenced by the popularity of the Galaxy series and HTC’s latest products. But they don’t want them so big that they require outside accessories to use efficiently, like the Galaxy Note.

Cough.

Cough.

With that said, Samsung is selling a ton of Notes, which says that there is definitely a demand for the phones that sit somewhere between a phone and a tablet — the Phablet market, as it were. But there is that fine line, something that The Verge reports the new HTC One max crosses. How does Apple fit into this whole scenario?

Bigger is Better(?)

The iPad mini did a lot to bridge the divide between the iPad and iPhone, and the iPhone 5’s bigger screen helped as well. And yet, you could definitely make the argument that there could be some screen envy between iPhone and Samsung phone owners. I know I felt that way with my buddy’s Galaxy S III, and in conversations with friends I hear the same. Long story short, Apple needs to up the size of the screen on the next iPhone, the only question is, how much.

If you believe the analysts (which almost always have a spotty track record on these things), you’ll hear that Apple is working on a 4.7- and 5.7-inch display for a future device, presumably the next iPhone(s). Although this latest rumor seems to have some merit based on similar reporting by the Wall Street Journal, it still doesn’t make a lot of sense. I have no idea why Apple would produce any iPhone today that didn’t have a Retina display, considering it’s their biggest marketing push. Just because it’s bigger, doesn’t mean they can drop the ball on that one.

So where’s the perfect fit? Is a 4.7 big enough? Too big? Will they be unwieldy to use with iOS 7, 8 or 9? Only time will tell, unfortunately, and that’s the problem.

When

And now, that leaves us with the big question: When. It doesn’t take a highly paid analyst to speculate that it would come with the iPhone 6. After all, traditional Apple iPhone logic dictates that every other generation of iPhone has a new body, but that may not be the case here. The iPhone 5c may hold the same innards (for the most part) as an iPhone 5, but the case is all new. Potentially, the 6c (or whatever it’s called) could have the same case as the 5c with current 5s guts, or it could start its own design tradition with a new body entirely.

Yup, it's bigger.

Yup, it’s bigger.

Image via Wired.com

The 5s, however, could be the next platform. The argument could be made that the 6s (or whatever it’s named) will have the bigger screen while a 6c stays the same aspect ratio as it is today. This pushes the iPhone Pro argument even further, as the 6s would have all of the shiny new real estate to work with, while the 6c stays diminutive. It also would get people excited about the new design, something that the current lineup doesn’t offer to many jaded iPhone owners.

Think Big(ger)

When the iPad first came out with a camera, I remember thinking it was ridiculous. Who wants to hold up something the size of a clipboard to take a shot? But I see people doing this all the time, and the iPad mini takes it even further.

Point is, the bigger screen may seem weird at first to Apple fans and iPhone owners, but that doesn’t mean that it’s bad. If done correctly, it could be the best thing that we’ve seen in an iPhone since the Retina display. It has the potential to be huge, not just in size, but in impact on the platform. In other words, it could be a big one more thing.