Remember when a mini phone was actually small?


Cellular phones started out as monstrous bricks. The first one I saw was being carried by a man in a suit walking through the mall. It had a handset attached to a coiled cord that went down inside a bulky-looking box with a handle and antenna on the top. It was comical. I laughed out loud. And then I stopped in my tracks.

“This guy is talking on the phone — while he’s walking through the mall,” I thought.

It was earth-shaking. Something magical happened next: the possibilities of telephones that didn’t need to be tethered to the kitchen wall went rushing through my head. Either that or the Orange Julius that I was sipping on gave me a HUGE brain-freeze.

Over time the size of these phones got smaller. Eventually we could carry “cellular phones” around in our pockets. In our pockets! They evolved into “flip phones” which took up even less space by folding in half. That’s about the same time that a new piece of electronic wizardry entered our lives: the PDA.

Enter the PDA

No, I’m not talking about Public Displays of Affection, though many of us loved our Personal Digital Assistants. I went through three Newtons and countless Windows Mobile devices over the years. These, like their cellphone cousins before them, started out life fairly large. Over time they’ve gotten smaller, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Everywhere I went I carried my PDA and my cellphone. Eventually PDAs got cellphone functionality, but they stayed PDA-sized for a while. Eventually, smartphones started looking more like phones, some even shed their touch screens and included number pads, others had touch screens plus number pads, and still others shed their number pads completely, replacing them with on-screen “buttons”.

Along came the smartphone

In the beginning, handsets in this new generation of smartphone were fairly small, but they began to grow. Screen resolutions got sharper and screen sizes got larger. Today we’re carrying around phones with 720P and 1080P HD screens. Some “phones” today look more like tablets due to their enormity. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a “bad” thing, it is what it is. Nonetheless, you’re not going to find anyone who says the latest round of flagship devices are “small”.

Some people like small

I’ve got large hands. I can span an octave plus three keys on our piano. Yes, I know, I’m a freak of nature. Most people don’t have hands as large as I do. For these people, holding today’s large smartphones (or phablets) isn’t easy. It isn’t comfortable. For them, they ache for a smaller phone — literally.

To answer their pleas, OEMs like Samsung and HTC have released “mini” versions of their flagship phones. Many expect these “mini” versions to simply be smaller versions of the full-sized phone. Unfortunately, they’re not. In addition to making the device smaller, the specifications are usually “miniaturized” as well. But that’s not what grinds my gears.

Look at the HTC One Mini. Sure, it’s smaller than the HTC One, but it’s not “mini” by any definition of the word! It’s bigger than the iPhone 5, which isn’t a “small” phone to begin with.

Perhaps I just need to wait. We went from normal sized sdcards to minisd, and now have microsd. We are in the middle of the same minification of SIM cards. Maybe it’s the “micro” version of the flagship phones that will actually be “small”.

Image: blackplastic

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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy". By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video. Read more about Joe Levi here.