I think we've left small screen sizes in the dust

Published: March 5, 2013

We watch as trends come and go in the mobile market. We watch as manufacturers put a focus on one feature or piece of hardware, and watch as they fade away or stick around. They come and go. NFC, for example, is a trend that seems to just exist, more or less, without much push from the companies anymore. Remember when it was all the rage? People were talking about it all the time. Now? Yep, it’s there, sometimes, but it’s no big deal.

It was a trend, and now it’s just part of the theme. Or it’s not. Does it make or break a phone if it has or doesn’t have NFC? No. in fact, I’m not sure I know anyone who actually looks for NFC capabilities in their future handset. I’m sure they exist, sure, but I don’t think the majority care all that much if the feature makes it to the final product.

Okay, we’ve painted a pretty clear picture. Trends come and go. Over the last few years, we’ve watched as our smartphones grew in size, too. (All the while sneaking NFC in there, too.) They’ve grown from the flip-phones of yesteryear to the devices that we have now. Handsets like the Galaxy Note II, and future devices like the ZTE Grand Memo –plus several others—all showcase that the size is just getting bigger.

We’ve also got rumors that Samsung’s Galaxy S IV will have a display around 5-inches. HTC’s One has a 4.7-inch display, though. The next Galaxy Note will probably have a screen that will measure in somewhere bigger than 5.5-inches. We’re getting bigger, and the major manufacturers are doing their best to continue that trend forward.

Of course, we can’t ignore the stalwarts who refuse to really go against their own grain – and with the grain of the rest of the race’s competitors. We’ve got BlackBerry, for example. Their Z10, the flagship of the BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system, has a display set a 4.2-inches. Apple? Their iPhone line has been set at the 3.5-inch margin for so long, it was practically miraculous to see them bump it up to four inches. But they did it.

So, are we set in our ways? Is four inches the smallest we’re going to go from here on out, when it comes to full touchscreen devices? I think I can safely say that that looks like it is the case.

It’s interesting, though. Over in Japan, the carrier Japanese Willcom has introduced the Phone Strap 2 WX06A. It’s a phone that’s supposed to work as a back-up handset to your “real phone.” It features a 1-inch display, has hardware buttons on its front, and a battery that will give you two hours of talk time or 12 days of standby.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve seen a device like this, though. HTC unveiled the Mini not too long ago, and our own Anna Scantlin articulated why the device is a good idea, but lacks the convenience most people are looking for. (That’s where wearable technology comes in.)

But here’s my question to you, because we know that trends come and go. We know that, at some point in the future, we’re going to see display sizes change again, but I want to know from you if you think we’re going to go back to smaller devices. We’ve already got thin handsets, and I doubt anyone wants them to get bulkier. But what about smaller? Will we see that return to the table?

I’m asking, because with new display technologies coming down the pipe, like foldable, or with a sharper curve than what we have now, there’s a chance that the first devices out with those particular specifications will be smaller than what we are used to seeing now. So, I’m asking you now, if you think you’d be willing to trade the size of your display for technology like foldable displays. Would you give up the size for the technology? Let me know!

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