There was a time when big phones were laughed at and manufacturers were striving to create smaller, sleeker devices. Small was in, it was chic, efficient and portable. Today however, it seems like we are back to holding large brick-sized phones to our heads, and the bigger the phone, the better people think it is. Let us consider this assumption and find out whether bigger is always better when it comes to displays on Android phones today.
While it took the iPhone five models to outgrow the 3.5 inch screen, many have forgotten the days of Nokia and its flagships, the early Symbian devices and the N series. Even the immensely popular N95 had a 2.6 inch screen, followed by the N96 with a 2.8 inch display, before the N97 finally broke into the 3 inch club. Compare these screen sizes to the behemoths of today, and you find yourself wondering how you even used those tiny displays. Does the success of these devices prove that screen sizes have nothing to do with how good a device is or how popular it will be?
In order to be fair, we need to realize that older displays were not reliant on touch input, which means they only served as means of output, and sufficed in that regard. Today, with the increasing popularity of touchscreen devices, increase in screen size is natural in order to facilitate input. On the other hand, we have devices like the original Samsung Galaxy Note, its successor, the Note 2, the more recent Huawei Ascend Mate and Galaxy Mega 6.3 and the upcoming Sony Xperia Z ultra, which go beyond facilitation and cater to people who want insanely large screens (up to 6 inches and more). Are these increasingly large phones only for a certain segment of people? The short answer is no.
If you look at the recent trends, you will find more and more manufacturers getting on the large screen bandwagon. Each major company has produced at least one 5 inch model and is working on at least one 6 incher. What is the reason behind the growing popularity of these large screen Androids? To put it simply, it is a mixture of convenience, consumption and bragging rights.
There is no doubt that large screen Androids can be much more convenient to handle, but it is also true that the larger (5 inch and above) displays can be cumbersome in heavy use. Moreover, with time, media consumption has become exceedingly popular. Never has it been so common for people to watch videos, share photos, play games and browse the internet than it is today. Which consequently means people feel they ‘need’ large screen devices, which are naturally much more compatible with media consumption. Finally, given the two reasons above, devices with bigger screens have taken a large share of the smartphone market, and a large screen device does give you bragging rights – turning heads (either in admiration or disbelief).
If you feel the need to try out a large screen Android phone as well, you must remember that screen size is not everything. Don’t expect a bigger screen to automatically translate into better visual performance. The type of your display and its resolution is even more important than the screen size – something most buyers don’t realize as they pick up a cheap Android phone with an exceptionally large screen. Know that a larger screen with a lower resolution will actually result in worse picture quality than a smaller screen with the same resolution. However, there are certain advantages of a larger screen, especially when it comes to input and ease of use. Samsung for instance, have included a very useful multi-window feature in their large screen Android devices, allowing users to run multiple apps efficiently, using the available display size.
How big is too big though? We might find out the answer to that this year, which is going to see the release of a couple of major 6 inch and over phones. How well these phones sell will help us assess the market for these large screen devices. However, as for current projections, it is safe to assume that the market is leaning in favor of larger screen sizes mainly due to increasing media consumption. Whether you wish to get on that boat is your call, but remember, bigger is not necessarily better when it comes to displays on Android phones.