Apple screen size – does Apple know something we don’t?


“Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.”

Wise words sung by a cartoon fish. So how many of you, when you woke up this morning, thought you’d be reading an article with “wise words sung by a cartoon fish” in it? Not everyone at once now. Show of hands?

Apple is the very definition of “just keep swimming”. You want flash? Just keep swimming. You want NFC? Just keep swimming. You want a phablet? Just keep swimming. You want a cheap iPhone? Just keep swimming.

just keep swimmingWhich is it?

But what we don’t know, and what we’ll probably not know for quite some time is whether Apple is swimming with Dory’s blissful ignorance or Dory’s unconventional wisdom. And just why is Apple hanging around with Marlin anyway?

Getting back to the heart of the matter though, Apple has thumbed its nose at many conventional wisdoms over the years, and yet it has remained a powerhouse in the smartphone industry. Sure, it has its app catalog to fall back on and it has iTunes and that whole ecosystem. It also has simplicity on its side. Can that really be all that’s keeping Apple up with the Jones’s?

Over the past couple of years, Apple has seen its global market share fall. Put simply, on a worldwide scale, people just aren’t adopting iPhones as much as Android, and in some places, Windows Phone devices. But it is still selling phones by the boat load. It’s not like Apple is in anything close to a precarious position.

dory_iphone caseGive ’em what they want!

Most recently, the call from the general populace has been for a cheaper iPhone or a bigger iPhone, or preferably both. Instead we got neither. The iPhone 5C is last year’s iPhone 5 with last year’s pricing, and the 5S is the same size as its predecessor. Swings and misses, both of them, at least from our perspective. But why?

Clearly bigger and cheaper are both in demand as evidenced by phones that have been released within the last six months. The Moto G, the Nexus 5, the Lumia 1520, the Note III, the LG G Flex; need I go on? Bigger, better, cheaper, and chipper. Well, not ‘chipper’, but hey, I was on a roll. And yet we find ourselves with the same sized iPhone at the same price, but now with a fingerprint scanner that may or may not be all that great after a couple of weeks.

dory-do ya

The sweet spot

Has Apple found that sweet spot for screen size vs. usability? Apple sure seems to think so. It’s hard to deny that Apple might be on to something. Its track record seems to show that. Remember flash? So does Adobe. Apple rejected flash player from the outset and many claimed they were misguided. Android, webOS and Blackberry all had flash, how could Apple ignore that? Well, then Adobe decided it couldn’t make flash run well on mobile which was shocking considering the bang-up job it does on desktop PCs and that was that.

So Apple emerged victorious from that fight. The NFC battle is still to be determined but NFC isn’t exactly burning up the charts either. I’m excited to get a Nexus 5 so I can finally pay for my Walgreens stuff with my phone (because taking my credit card out of my wallet is so damned inconvenient), but beyond that NFC hasn’t really taken off on a consumer level yet. Sure, you can pair your brand new Nokia Guru with your Lumia using NFC, so that’s awesome – assuming you ever buy a Guru, but still, NFC is not a mainstream item yet. Will it ever be? Apple doesn’t seem to think so.

You got a problem with that?

So what about screen size? What if a phone is meant to be a personal device? What if your phone is not supposed to be bigger than four inches? Why do we need bigger phones? Isn’t that what tablets are for? How much more satisfying is it to watch youtube on the Nexus 5’s 4.95” screen than the iPhone’s 4” screen? Wouldn’t that movie be even better on the Nexus 7 or the iPad Air? Even the recent burst of 6” screens still fall short of true tablet size. Plus, that’s when the phones start getting uncomfortable to…what’s the word I’m looking for?…oh yeah…talk on. So there is something to be said for a smaller screen size.

For the record, I don’t think Apple is right here, but then I didn’t think they were right about flash either. Large screens are clearly in demand from a large part of the smartphone buying population. Anecdotally, those folks that I know who have switched from the iPhone to an Android device have done so primarily for screen size. It’s a very attractive feature. Or is it just a feature that is more easy to deal with? Is it just another compromise?

I guess the answer will come in the future. But someone is going to win this war – big screen vs. Apple. It’ll be interesting to see who wins. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.

Leader Image source: Fonearena

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs. Read more about Adam Doud!