As our devices get bigger, it’s all about the screen real estate. How much room do we have to do what we need to do every day? It’s probably one of the reasons that manufacturers keep making these devices, which are meant to be phones so big nowadays. Some might say we’re getting into some pretty ridiculous areas, especially with the recent release of the Samsung Note and its 5.3-inch touchscreen display, but others are relishing the new, and huge, sizes. But, as we get bigger and bigger displays, I can’t help but wonder: is it better to be wider, or longer?
I’m actually asking because of the BlackBerry Torch 9850 that just recently launched on Verizon’s network. Recently, as in today. And with its release into some stores, I’m hearing from some people that the Torch’s display just doesn’t measure up. It doesn’t measure up when compared to the Storm, or Storm 2. I know, that’s insanity, right? But we aren’t talking about the screen itself, or how effectively you can type on it (though, from the sounds of it, that would be worth discussing, too). I’m just talking about size right now, and I’m hearing from most people that the size just doesn’t compare.
How do I mean? Well, on paper the Torch’s 3.7-inch display sounds big enough, right? Most people would say that 3.7-inches is just right, if not even a little bit bigger than what they prefer (3.5-inches seems to be the “perfect” sized phone for some people). Well, its 3.7-inches, but that’s in length. Basically, it’s longer than it is wider, and that shouldn’t be a surprise. There are actually quite a few devices that use this strategy, foregoing the “width” in more of a “widescreen” approach while viewing the display in a landscape fashion. That’s great for those who primarily use their device for media consumption, but for those who like to use their device in both portrait and landscape, focusing primarily on the latter may just not cut it.
And that’s what I’m hearing a lot of, and it got me thinking about the dilemma. Is it better to go width, or length? It’s a question that manufacturers don’t just have to ask themselves for a phone, but also for tablets. We’ve seen plenty of tablets out there release that focus more on the widescreen approach, instead of making a tablet that is comfortable both in landscape and portrait. The iPad and TouchPad are both notable exceptions.
Just like anything else, this is going to come down to personal preference more than anything else. Truth be told, many people probably don’t even know that there’s an option. The iPhone is a 3.5-inch device, but its width makes it seem almost bigger. While the Nexus One’s 3.7-inch display seems mighty fine in the hand, despite its length-based display size. When choosing a phone, it should be about how it feels in the hand, or how the screen technology resonates with you in every day usage, or your favorite operating system. All of these have to come together to make a device that you love to use every day (or at least until the next big thing launches).
For me, after using plenty of different phones and tablets, I prefer a smartphone that’s focused on the width, and a tablet that is more “square” than anything else. I like the ability to turn the phone in any direction and still be comfortable, and not have to feel like one position is better than another. Not that I’d ever give that much of a thought, but it’s certainly there – especially if you like to use your phone or tablet to watch movies or play games.
So do you prefer width or length? Is a phone like the iPhone your perfect handset based on size? Or does something like the DROID Bionic’s size and feel work better for you? Let me know in the comments below.