The death of the small flagship has arrived

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: July 17, 2014

I have a friend that has used the iPhone as his primary device since the launch of the original back in 2007. He's had a few handsets in between then and now, like both versions of BlackBerry's Storm "iPhone killer," but he's pretty much stuck with the iPhone one way or another. He went through what he calls his "Android phase" when he was infatuated with rooting and adding custom ROMs, but that was a few years ago.

Now, he's worried that his iPhone is getting too big.

That's due to the rumors of the iPhone 6 getting a display upgrade (and I use that word very loosely) up to 4.7-inches. While nothing is confirmed quite yet, by the sheer amount of leaks we've seen of the unicorn device, it's all but a definite outcome later this year.

My friend has upgraded to the new iPhone every year, but this is the first time that I've ever heard him say he "might not." Honestly, this is the first year that I've heard any kind of distrust in his own future actions. The next iPhone was always a guarantee for him. That's apparently not the case this time around, and it's all because of a potentially larger display.

The iPhone 5/5s has a 4-inch display, which some think is big enough, but the majority apparently feel is still too small. And, obviously, compared to the majority of Android-based devices that get the majority of the attention, it is too small. However, I pointed out to him that he loves his iPhone 5s, but he was afraid of a larger display back when the iPhone was only 3.5-inches. Ultimately, he got used to it. And, hey, hopefully a jump from 4- to 4.7-inches won't be as big as it is from 3.5- to 4-inches. (It will be. It will be so noticeable.)

I bring this up because our favorite market's infatuation with larger phones, and this twisted view that all flagships need to be huge, is starting to wear thin. Not so much because I just don't agree with it, but because these smaller devices keep cropping up and teasing everyone with a change to the trend. We hear about these smaller flagship devices all the time, about how they're going to have these great specifications, but they pretty much never come to fruition.

Just look at LG's recently announced LG G3 Beat, or G3 s for some markets. That device could have been great! And there were some rumors out there, floating around unchecked, that suggested LG was going to finally make a small(er) device really worthwhile. Instead, LG went ahead and put the final nail in that dream's coffin, as far as I'm concerned. And not just geared towards LG's smaller G3 device. I'm talking about the dream that we'll ever see any movement towards smaller flagship devices again.

At this point, it's only Sony that's trying to make any real effort in this department, and I guess that certainly counts for something. Sony does make some interesting and worthwhile handsets. But I'm just tired of these "mid-tier" devices existing just because they're smaller variants of a larger hero device.

Luckily for me, the iPhone's set for a size at 4.7-inches (not including that 5.5-inch iPhone, because reasons), and I still believe that's the perfect screen size. But, it will all come down to how it feels in the hand when being used. So we'll see how it goes.

Are you a fan of the larger smartphones? What's the screen size of your daily driver?

Products mentioned