Why is the iPhone screen still 3.5 inch?

After the announcement of the iPhone 4S, there were lots of disappointment/unhappiness. A lot of people were disappointed that the new iPhone 4S is still having a 3.5 inch screen. Personally, I don’t know why there’s so much disappointment/unhappiness. I thought it is already expected that the new iPhone will retain its 3.5 inch screen. Perhaps its because of all the rumors and speculations that give people a higher expectation for the iPhone 4S.
Dustin Curtis wrote a very interesting article on why the iPhone has a 3.5 inch screen. He said that your thumb can’t reach the other side of the screen if the screen is more than 3.5 inch.

But actually I don’t really 100% agree with the article. You see, it is still possible to reach the other side of the screen with your thumb if the screen is bigger than 3.5 inch. Here’s an experiment that I tried with my dad’s Samsung Galaxy S II.

Maybe I have longer thumbs.
But there is no doubt that 3.5 inch is much more comfortable. And if I’m not wrong, that’s exactly the reason why the first iPhone is 3.5 inch. But sticking to 3.5 inch is more than just because of comfort. I think it also have to do with the tons of existing apps in the Appstore. Currently, all the iOS developers are coding their apps to fit the 3.5 inch screen (and 9.7 inch screen for iPads). I’m not a developer but I’m pretty sure that most apps don’t support a bigger screen. If Apple release a bigger screen iPhone, the new iPhone will need to magnify the apps to fill up the screen. We’ve all seen how ugly it looks on the iPad when you magnify an App that isn’t specially written for the large screen. OK, maybe magnify from 3.5 inch screen to 4.2 inch screen wouldn’t look that bad. But Apple being Apple will most likely not want any imperfection on their beloved iOS.
Android managed to support multiple screen size because it has APIs that allow developers to more precisely control the layout resources their application uses for different screen sizes. I don’t know how much extra work is that. But if Apple wants to do a iPhone with bigger screen, it will definitely need to do the same thing. iOS developers will need to amend their existing Apps to support bigger screen before Apple will roll out a iPhone with a bigger screen.
If Apple is going to switch to a bigger screen, the developers will most likely be the first to know.
But maybe Apple will stay on 3.5 inch screen forever. After all, it doesn’t really matter to them. At least not now. iPhone is still the number 1 selling phone in the world despite not having the latest technology like NFC, LTE etc etc. Heck! It doesn’t even have a MircoSD card slot! You see, the iPhone (like many other Apple products) is popular not because it has the best specifications and latest technology in the world. It is popular because of it ease of use and style. And the tons of beautiful Apps available on the Appstore.
Will the 3.5 inch screen hurt iPhone 4S sales? I doubt so.
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On a side note, I find it kinda funny. Back in the early 2000s when mobile phones is just gaining popularity, people want their phones to be as small as possible. (Something like the Nokia 8210) Interesting how trend has changed and people want their phone to be bigger now.

2 comments

  1. A screen holds lot of importance when it comes to phones, especially where the maximum access is by touch. I do not think that a 3.5 inch screen will hurt iphone sales because what a user always looks for is ease of access. If I have the latest technology but I am not feeling comfortable to use it I would never be able to use it for a long term. Technology after all is for making things easy.

  2. Another reason why there is a request for bigger screen is probably the eye sight of the people using the phones now are not as good as before and with the tons of information that one wants to read on the iPhone, a bigger screen will be easier on the eyes.
    In the past, a phone is just a phone. One use it to call someone and just need to be able to press the buttons to make the call.
    Now one read emails, FB, read blogs etc on a tiny screen and the eyes scream for mercy.
    Thus with the launch of iPad, I am beginning to use my iPhone as a phone and my iPad for the rest. Same for the kids, with the bigger screen on iPad, they no longer charge their iPhones to play games.

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