For a long time, Apple (well, more like Steve Jobs) claimed that the 3.5-inch display on the Apple iPhone was absolutely perfect for one-handed use. Apple remained true to its 3.5-inch display for six years, until the release of the Apple iPhone 5 introduced a small step up with a 4-inch display. Only two years later would Apple step up their size game once more with the 4.7-inch Apple iPhone 6 and the 5.5-inch Apple iPhone 6 Plus. The ideal 3.5-inch display was a distant memory in a smartphone world where phablets are in high demand.
Despite the high demand of phablets, though, there are still people in the world who prefer those smaller smartphones of yesteryear. I happen to be one of those people for a multitude of reasons.
I like phablets. The bigger screen is, admittedly, easier to read and there seems to be a lot more room for better specs to create a more powerful device. However, when it comes to everyday usage I’m much better off with a smaller phone. I have smaller hands, so realistically using a phablet with just one hand is neither comfortable nor practical for somebody like me, and often results in a lot of clumsy drops.
So for a while I’ve been depending on the Apple iPhone, which has always been on the smaller side of things, to be there for me as a backup. I liked being able to try out the larger devices, but when it came to using them as daily drivers I found it difficult. I found out that my comfort zone for one-handed use seems to max out at 4.7-inches, but still requires a bit of a stretch for some actions across the display. The 3.5-inch, or even the 4-inch, Apple iPhone has always been easy enough for me to use with one hand.
But now that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are here, I imagine that the days of the smaller iPhone are long over when it comes to flagships. But there’s still another alternative to keep the smaller iPhones around, and that’s releasing a “mini” version of the iPhone.
iPhone users were safe this year because the iPhone 5s and 5c are still available alongside the 6 and the 6 Plus, but what happens when after this year? Although Apple is pretty good at keeping their phones up to date on their latest software, it’s no secret that after the first yearly update the phones will generally start to show their age; just take a look at how well the iPhone 4S ran on iOS 8 as an example. Two years from now, the iPhone 5s and the 5c should be making their way off of shelves, and I don’t see Apple’s flagship devices (or any flagships, for that matter) getting any smaller within that time frame.
So, realistically, we’re potentially looking at Apple releasing iPhone minis in the future. As long as they can take their smaller iPhone as seriously as Sony has with their smaller Xperia Z, then I would be totally on board with that.
I’ve never been too impressed with minis who share the name of a flagship, and yet have nothing in common with the flagship they’re named after. Samsung’s Galaxy S minis often fall victim to this, where you’ll have the Galaxy S4 or Galaxy S5 moniker but the phone has dumbed down specs, a way worse camera, and at the end of the day only looks like a smaller version of its big and still has a pretty hefty price tag simply for the phone’s name.
But Sony’s Xperia Z Compact line almost mirrors its larger device, so we know that it can be done. Hopefully, if Apple does end up going this route, they will end up taking after Sony.
I think it’s great that Apple has finally made a larger iPhone, but I still think there’s a sizeable market for people who don’t want big phones. It would be a shame if Apple didn’t cater to this crowd as well.