When It Comes to Smartphone Screens, Size Matters Discussion

Discussion in 'Headline News' started by Paul Korzeniowski, Aug 29, 2010.

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  1. Paul Korzeniowski

    Paul Korzeniowski Brighthand Contributor

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    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 13, 2014
  2. JRakes

    JRakes NOT your Average Joe

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    Just as many of us have been saying for years (pre iPhone.) The fact is, for anybody to get anything of any substance done, display real estate is paramount. I don't do vids or gaming on my devices, and precious little with pics, but I DO need more than a postage stamp view of documents and my calendar. Display size is a key factor, for me, in using my devices for anything more than an occasional convenience. A good hardware keyboard is 2nd on that list.

    I guess I just don't see this as new information or a sudden epiphany, rather a big "DOH! That's what those freaks have been yapping on about all these years!" :)
  3. Splicer

    Splicer Newbie

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    Agreed that screen size is important in getting things done, but doesn't this just mean that we're seeing the return of the PDA/handheld computer?

    These feature sets have to eventually diverge because we have totally different use-cases. Who wants a phone that you can't fit in your pocket? I want a handset that feels good in my hand, that has actually been ergonomically designed for talking. These tombstone slabs are ridiculous to hold.

    I suppose that with Bluetooth headsets being so common perhaps many people no longer care about a phone's ergonomics, but I still do. I want an ultraportable handheld computer with a big screen—I'm really looking forward to the rumored 5-to-7 inch diagonal iPad if it really will exist. But I'm sick to death of this flood of trays being marketed as phones. My Pre's 3.1" display is about the upper limit of screen size for me, because I actually use my phone as a phone.

    Give me rounded corners, light weight, long battery life (OK, I don't have that with the Pre), and ditch the big screen on my phone. It's great that we're seeing bigger screens on handheld devices, but not all handheld devices need to be phones, especially in a world where WiFi tethering is free on your actual phone.
  4. r0k

    r0k Dazed

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    I think the iPhone 4 display represents a good compromise of increased resolution coupled with small physical size. I took a look at the Droid X and decided I didn't want something that big protruding from my pocket. I've gotten used to the mediocre typing experience on my iPod Touch so whether I get an Android or an iOS4 phone, I'll opt for a touchscreen model. But I'm far more likely to get a Droid Incredible than a Droid X.

    Rumor has it Apple will release a 7 inch version of the iPad. I would go for that as a smaller replacement for my iPad but not as a PDA. For me a PDA has to be pocketable, small and relatively light. It also has to be well built. A keyboard is nice to have but not mandatory. Higher resolution is definitely nice, but not at the expense of having a device that is bigger than an iPhone 4 or Droid Incredible.

    I watch movies on my iPad and could watch them on my iPod Touch. I never even bothered downloading the Netflix app for my 'touch. Movies just aren't a priority for me on a pocket device. But I do show family photos, read Kindle books, use docs2go and browse the web. For me these are the killer apps for higher screen resolution, not games and videos.
  5. Varjak

    Varjak Newbie

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    For me, I'm not really interested in a smartphone with a screen under 4". Maybe I live in the Twilight Zone; but I just don't think these phones with 4.3" screens are that big. In fact, I find the Droid Incredible to be almost too small in the hand (especially too narrow).

    Yes, on occasion, it's nice to have a small, stylish phone, which is something I love about GSM. I could pop out the SIM and put it in a Nokia 8800/Sirocco or something.
  6. JRakes

    JRakes NOT your Average Joe

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    I agree, Varjak. For me, the PDA / Pocket Computer function has always been paramount - That function is what first drew me to these devices and remains my primary use for them. The addition / integration of a phone function was just a convenience and little else. Function still outweighs form for me and, as I've said before, if I could water down what I use my device for to a few blurb lines here and there, I probably wouldn't need / use it in the first place. I need lots of display real estate and a 1st rate keyboard. :)
  7. Splicer

    Splicer Newbie

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    I agree with JRakes so long as we agree that "The addition / integration of a phone function was just a convenience and little else" means these devices are better handheld computers but not necessarily better phones.

    I fought hard for convergence, but now I've come to see that the best phone and the best handheld computer are at cross purposes with one another. I want the best of both so while I'm willing to agree that a 5" (or 7") screen might help make a kick-ass handheld computing device, it would make it a less desirable phone.

    I see in the not-so-distant future a scenario where my battery will die and I'll borrow someone's phone only to not figure out how to dial. I'll ask how to make a call with it and the owner of the device will look at me with a confused look on his face and say, "What do you mean, call? It's a phone. You don't talk on it."
  8. Ed Hardy

    Ed Hardy TabletPCReview Editor Staff Member

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  9. Drillbit

    Drillbit Mobile Deity

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    Screen sizes changes perception.

    When I first got my HTC Diamond I thought the screen was huge. It was a hefty 2.8" screen.

    It started felt small after my HTC Magic with its 3.2" screen.

    The 3.2" screen of my Magic and later my Droid Eris later felt small after the humongous 3.7" screen of the Nexus One.

    After using my Samsung Galaxy S with its 4" screen after a while, I felt my Nexus One screen looked small, to the point I even wondered if it was really any bigger than the 3.2" screen on the Droid Eris.

    Bigger screens lead to perception changed. The screens don't change physically, but human perceptions will. My iPod Touch screen with 3.5" really looked small now for me and I hardly ever use even at home to do mobile web browsing.

    When 4" screens become the new normal, all screen sizes before it will look small.

    Its all about the sliding bar of being "normal".
  10. Varjak

    Varjak Newbie

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    Well, Drill, I judge 'normal' by my Palms, and going back to the Vx, all my Palms had biggish screens. I admit that's not the same as a phone; but we're mostly talking PDA-like functions, not 'phone' functions: productivity (e-mail, document viewing/handling, e-reading), PIM, media, games, and now social media/networking and such.

    When using 'just a phone,' I barely even looked at the screen (I don't text much). I voice-dialled and answered calls (often with a headset). That's it.
  11. Drillbit

    Drillbit Mobile Deity

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    I still got Palms in the house, and they were huge during their heyday, but not anymore. Screen size doomed the Pre as it may on the Blackberry Torch.

    Spend some time on a Galaxy S, EVO or Droid X, and all other things begin to look small. Human perceptions are dynamic, the sense of normal is easy to shift by habit to a new level.'

    Even a 3.7" screen like the Nexus One start feeling small after you used a Galaxy S for a while.
  12. Ed Hardy

    Ed Hardy TabletPCReview Editor Staff Member

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    I'm really hoping HP realizes that "bigger is better". The 3.2-inch screen on the Pre had to have hurt sales; it certainly reduced my interest in the device. If the Pre had had a 3.5-inch display it would have been much more competetive with the iPhone.

    I hope HP starts out with a 4-inch touchscreen on its first webOS smartphone, but a 3.5-inch one would probably be OK.
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  13. Girt

    Girt Gadgeteer

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    Yoda was wrong when it comes to display size.
    I've been wanting "just a little more" since emailing on my T3's 3.7" screen. I would definitely like a 4.3 or 5" screen. Have to wait and see how pocketable things are.
    But I agree with earlier posts how ironic that things have now come full circle. From "these crazy geeks with PalmPilots" -- and now almost everybody has a mobile device.
  14. Girt

    Girt Gadgeteer

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    And as far as watching shows, it seems like ones shot for TV work better than big-screen movies. Anyone else notice that?
  15. Varjak

    Varjak Newbie

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    I'm assuming you are writing about how the picture 'fills' the screen. A lot has to do with the aspect ratio. A widescreen film (say 2.35:1, 2.20:1, 2.40:1 (which is really the same thing as 2.35:1)) will be really small, with big bars above and below the picture. Shows shot in HDTV (16:9 = 1.78:1) fit most screens better. 'Old style' SDTV (4:3 or 1.33:1) may be even better for some screens, depending on their dimensions.
  16. Ed Hardy

    Ed Hardy TabletPCReview Editor Staff Member

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    And if you're talking about what content is more suitable for small screens, I've found that comedies and documentaries work best because both of these depend heavily on words and not images.

    Action movies and TV shows really don't work well on smarthone displays. I really don't know what Samsung was thinking -- I can't imagine watching Avatar on a 4-inch Galaxy S screen.
    -
  17. Varjak

    Varjak Newbie

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    Great points. Animation is pretty good on smaller screens; the only problem being a show like The Simpsons, where there are lots of little jokes on signs, pieces of paper, street signs, etc. Even before the DVR era, I mostly taped The Simpsons, because I didn't want to miss those things.

    I disagree about the broad category of 'TV Shows.' Broad sitcoms are good on small screens. A show like 'The Big Bang Theory' might play well on smarpthones, because it's mostly about the dialogue and not physical comedy, although there's some. And some documentaries are mostly about the cinematography (nature shows, travelogues,etc.) Imagine watching Ken Burns' Civil War, Baseball, etc. on a small screen?

    Yes, Avatar is a poor choice for a smartphone. My old example that I've used often here is 'Lawrence of Arabia.' Does anyone really want to watch 'L of A' on a 4" screen on an airplane? I'm not even sure it would be all that great on an iPad, etc.
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