In the smartphone industry, there is no “one size fits all”. While the trend over recent years has shown us that a bigger smartphone screen is actually preferred in many cases, it has since left those who prefer smaller screens to begin counting down the days until their hands are forced. At the present moment, the number of smartphones with “small” screens are quickly dwindling.
It’s not entirely surprising to see this happen. After all, having a larger smartphone typically means there is more room for better specs, not to mention that it’s just plain better for viewing more at once no matter what you’re doing. The smaller the phone, the less room there is for stuff in general, whether it's specs or activities. However, we do know that just because a phone is small doesn’t necessarily mean that it can’t harness great power – just compare Sony’s Xperia Z flagship to its “compact” counterpart. While the 4.6-inch display isn’t necessarily “small”, it is when you compare it to other flagships that have screens that have a 6-inch display or larger.
Another example, at least until recently, is the Apple iPhone. Until 2014’s unveiling of the iPhone 6, Apple was both famous and infamous for keeping a small 3.5-inch display until the iPhone 4s, and then moving to a taller (yet short-lived) 4-inch display with the iPhone 5, 5s, and 5c. For many, the 4-inch era of iPhones ended too soon. While the new 4.7 and 5.5-inch iPhones certainly garnered a lot of positive attention for Apple, it also caused a lot of dismay among those who lauded the smaller iPhone for holding on to its compact size for so long.
Although previous generations of the iPhone will stay on shelves for about 3 years, the iPhone 5s and 5c’s time frame is likely in its final year. With this in mind it isn’t such a far-fetched idea that Apple may be introducing a new 4-inch iPhone next year, and the rumor continues to speculate that the specs might be closer to “flagship” than we have grown to expect out of minis.
When you have something good, you hold onto it for as long as you can. While the smartphone industry practically lives by the unofficial mantra that “bigger is better”, it isn’t necessarily true for everyone. And just because somebody may want a smaller device doesn’t necessarily mean they’re willing to overlook a device’s entire performance. That’s why, in my opinion, most “mini” versions of flagships have utterly failed. Aside from notable mentions like Sony, mini flagships only exist to promote the brand. The actual performance of these “mini flagships” are entirely subpar in almost every area. While I understand that sacrifices will happen, I don’t think it necessarily needs to in all areas.
So, in a way, it’s still an open area for Apple to shine if they want to.
A good, small smartphone is a rare gem these days, and I think Apple would be doing itself a favor by embracing it for a little while longer. I don’t think that the days of small smartphones are so far behind us that it’s hanging on by a thread. It very well might be heading down the same path that features like the physical keyboard have already taken, but I don’t think it’s quite there yet. I still know a lot of people value the one-handed usability of a small handset (who also value good, reliable performance).
Readers, what are your thoughts? Would a new 4-inch handset from Apple be a good thing, or do you think it’s just a waste of time at this point? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!