A closer look at larger display options for the Apple iPhone

A closer look at larger display options for the Apple iPhone

Summary: The Apple iPhone 5 has a 4-inch display and yet remains one of the smallest smartphones by volume. Big display devices seem to be all the rage today, but is that really where Apple should take the iPhone? Rene Ritchie at iMore detailed the options for a larger screen device.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Apple, iPhone
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A closer look at larger display options for the Apple iPhone
(Credit: Apple)

I am not an educated financial guy, and when I see Apple release strong quarterly results and the stock market answer with a loss in value, I shake my head in disbelief. The Apple iPhone continues to sell very well, and it seems that buyers are satisfied with the 3.5-inch and 4-inch display sizes. While I enjoy using devices with large displays like the Galaxy Note II and Droid DNA, I find the 4-inch display on the iPhone 5 to be nearly perfect for a very pocketable device that has a display large enough to enjoy lots of content.

My buddy Rene Ritchie over at iMore creates some awesome content covering Apple products. I enjoyed reading his article this week, "Imagining a 5-inch iPhone," and have to say, I honestly don't think I want to see a 5-inch iPhone anytime soon. Apple's new iPad Mini is doing well, and folks at ZDNet, like James Kendrick, enjoy this smaller form tablet. It seems to me that a 5-inch iPhone gets too close to the iPad Mini for a data-centric user profile, and I love the fact that my iPhone 5 is so pocketable and useful as a phone and not a data-focused device.

In typical iMore fashion, Rene went into extreme detail when discussing pixels, sizes, and resolution options available to Apple. Apps are what define iOS, so whatever road Apple may take to a larger iPhone will have to be developer friendly. Rene presents discussions on a large iPhone with:

  • 5 inches at 2x

  • 5 inches at 3x

  • 5 inches at 4x

  • 5 inches using iPad mini display

  • 5 inches at another pixel count

  • 4.5 or 4.8 inches

We will see a new iPhone in 2013; Apple releases one every year and that is not news. I think it will be an iPhone 5S with a faster processor, improved camera, new OS, NFC, and wireless charging. I highly doubt the form factor will change from the iPhone 5, and think any possibility of a bigger iPhone won't happen until 2014 or later. I wouldn't put much into what Tim Cook states about the iPhone size since you really can never say never when it comes to technology companies, as evidenced by the iPad Mini that Apple said they would never release.

HTC did an amazing job with a 5 inch device on the HTC Droid DNA, and that is quite pocketable, so it is possible for a company to make a compelling large display device that still fits in your pocket. My Galaxy Note II is too big at 5.5 inches, and the rumors of one getting bigger are not appealing to me personally. Do you want to see a larger iPhone or are you satisfied with the 3.5 or 4 inch displays?

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Topics: Mobility, Apple, iPhone

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33 comments
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  • A 5S would hardly be new phone

    A retread is about it, but hey, they just got 4G on iphone, in a few years maybe it will be bigger than a postage stamp.

    It's needs to be wider for sure.
    everss02
  • 5" with Retina^2 (2272x1280) is the variant that Apple is going to do:

    http://d-rs.livejournal.com/983.html (with "photo" and background). "iPhone MAXI" or whatever.
    DDERSSS
    • Active link

      iPhone MAXI concept.

      And this guy is wrong, producing such device is feasible for Apple already this year.
      DDERSSS
    • You can't make this stuff up

      Whenever any phone like, for example, the Nokia Lumia 920, beats the iphone in resolution (which it does) we hear:
      "Anything better than retina is a waste since the human eye can't see the pixels in a retina display"

      Suddenly though, when it sounds like apple might start making better than retina displays, suddenly more resolution is better.

      Fair enough, let's take these people at their word. My Nokia Lumia 920 has a better resolution than the iphone 5 TODAY. I don't have to wait for some rumor. I get the superior resolution NOW. Life is too short to wait.

      PS tim cook says you shouldn't believe rumors about apple.
      toddbottom3
      • This is only theoretically better resolution. If you can closer to the ...

        ... screen, you still will be able to see dots in graphics mode. But Retina^2, and, more importantly, Retina^3 will do the difference. Though it will take years to get there.
        DDERSSS
        • Glad you've flip flopped on this one

          So higher PPIs ARE better, even if they are "better" than retina.

          Good to know. I certainly know that my Nokia Lumia 920, with a higher PPI than the iphone 5 (which means my Nokia Lumia 920 is BETTER than retina) looks so much better than any of the iphone 5s I've seen.

          I couldn't believe it before when you promised us that anything better than retina was a waste.
          toddbottom3
          • It's ironic considering that...

            when Apple first released the iPhone, it had the largest screen of any phone on the market.
            laequis
          • While true....

            It wasn't exactly unique among mobile devices... the iPhone screen was indistinguishable from the screen in the Palm T|X and similar Palms, and very close to some WinCE PDAs. Yes, the smartphone people at those companies failed to turn "all screen" PDAs into smartphones (though some did get cellular data modems), and clearly, that was a fatal mistake. Apple's use of touch was also a big improvement, and perhaps the whole iPhone package was a revolution. But it was built of a bunch of incremental improvements.
            Hazydave
          • It IS waste for typical working distance and/or with smoothing applied

            Just read the link I posted above.
            DDERSSS
      • Don't forget size

        How many times have we been told 3.5 is the right size? Admittedly we accept that they were wrong by .5" because clearly 4" is the sweet spot. Anything bigger is unusable and only for the techy giants out there with 4 thumbs. Sometimes I have to call my mum or dad down to the basement just to hold my S3 so I can reach the corners.
        If it wasn't such a PITA, it would be fun to go back and collect comments from the likes of DRESS about anything bigger than (whatever version is current of) the iphone being obviously stupid. Here we now are and no comment on how unusable a 5" screen will be.
        Little Old Man
        • Personally

          I would not mind a slightly longer and wider iPhone for the occasional 2 handed use - as far as a one handed device the iPhone models prior to the iPhone 5 were perfect for usability one handed. I can reach anywhere on the screen with the device cradled in my palm and using my thumb to select objects onscreen. So yes 3.5 is the "sweet spot" as far as one handed usability for me. While I do like some of the improvements in the iPhone 5 the screen size is not one of them.
          athynz
          • Can't disagree with "for me"

            but it's not the concept that was touted by the isheep previously. I can do what you say on an S3, maybe I have freakishly big hands. My GF on the other hand doesn't and after upgrading to an S3 - salesman pitch not mine - the single complaint is that she keeps hitting the back softkey. Horses for courses. I tried one of the sony mini's before the S3 and while the size was excellent when not being used, it was just too small to be functional.
            It just makes me laugh when the isheep (used correctly) label anything retina as the sweet spot, now we have DRESS telling us ret2 & ret3 are the sweet spot. Same with screens, the statements are never given the context of 'for that individual', it's always blanket denial that anything bigger/smaller/higher PPI/lower PPI than apple is somehow wrong.
            Little Old Man
      • Toddbottom is such an Apple fanboy, he posts on every Apple story......

        Enjoying that Windows 8 phone todd? The one that has Bing search and no google maps? blah. I don't mind the windows phone but it's backwards in app selection and useability compared to Android or even iPhone. At least you have office I guess..... That screen is pretty....too bad there aren't that many apps to use it with.


        Why doesn't everyone just get a phone they like and love it instead of worrying about everyone else's phone? As I just showed, there is a way and a reason to attack every phone. That's why it's nice to be in a competitive market. I hope MS makes an awesome phone OS, once their stuff matures. Then it gives Apple and Google some reason to innovate, instead of both releasing mutually copying TINY operating system improvements.

        Right now, besides faster processors (for gaming??), maybe more Ram (graphics or gaming again?? it's a phone.....), what incentive is there for me to move from my SG3 or 4S? More resolution? A better camera might be ok, but there is a lack of WOW, I WANT this phone for "insert reason here". People are simply buying new phone because it's the new model. Dumb. In ALL phone camps. At least Windows phone offers a slightly different user environment.

        Btw, I have large hands but do prefer the slimmer iPhone over the SG3 because it IS a pain in the butt to constantly shift the screen in my hand to reach the other side. Two-handed, it's awesome, but 75% of the time, I use it in one hand. Just saying.
        Stormborn
        • Don't make Microsoft's mistake

          "Its just a phone" is pretty much the thing that Microsoft realized, too late, is completely false. It's a pocket personal computer, of course. And, for most of us, a non-Windows and non-PC (eg, x86) personal computer.

          Of course, the industry is in "bigger, better, faster, more" mode because that's what they're good at. Innovation is really just a gamble gone well... just why successful companies usually just do an upgrade of last year's model. It's the newbies and the underdogs, usually, taking the risks.

          I had figured maybe one of the Windows Phone companies would do something really interesting, but it took Nokia a few years just to be feature complete compared to iOS and Android devices... and that in big, fat device. I think Microsoft may just have the specs too locked down for much excitement.

          It's better for consumers when the hardware and software companies are competing for us. One reason the PC market is tanking is that PCs are boring.. the one you have is pretty OK, and you don't see much worth an upgrade.
          Hazydave
  • Apple has a very small product lineup, which limits choice

    With all the different needs and desires regarding smart phones (and tablets) in the world, Apple has probably severely limited the future of its OS, and by extension, its HW, by not licensing it. I understand the arguments "for" what Apple is doing. The reality is that premium positioning and a small product lineup will ultimately and unavoidable lead to a future as a perhaps very profitable, but comparatively small niche producer. This may ultimately lead to vulnerability to attacks by other and larger HW providers. I think we have already seen this happening in the case of Samsung.
    D.T.Long
  • iPhone 5 / 6 wants...

    1) 5 inch display..6 inch display... if they can muster it
    2) same or better resolution as iPhone 5
    3) 128GB model... 64GB isn't enough... never has been. I miss my iPod Classic, but dont want to carry an extra device.
    Techdelirios
  • Larger.....

    The small 3.5" screen of the iPhone 4 was one of the reasons I ditched iOS for Windows Phone. The 4" screen on the iPhone 5 didn't really cut it for me either. The 4.3' screen on my phone is really nice. I would actually like an even larger screen in my next phone. I think 4.8" or 5.0" (at most) would do it. If Apple did put out a phone with a larger screen size, I may consider going back, but not likely.
    toph36
  • Makes me laugh ... thank you guys

    According to the majority of posts anything beyond 4" is hard to sell ... and though Samsung proved all of us wrong.

    Selling bigger phones is Apples only worthwhile and promising long-term strategy. Otherwise in 3 years from now Apple will be where Nokia is today.
    EnticingHavoc
    • No one ever said that "anything beyond 4" is hard to sell"

      However, people did say that anything beyond 4" is harder to control without moving the device in hand to reach some corners, or without using second hand. Also people did say that bigger phone certainly have harder time fitting in some of the pockets.
      DDERSSS
      • No, you are totally wrong on this one DDRESSS

        "people did say that anything beyond 4" is harder to control without moving the device in hand to reach some corners"

        No, you apple fanboys promised us that anything beyond 3.5" is harder to control without moving the device in hand to reach some corners. This was back when the iphone had a 3.5" screen while the standard was pushing up on 4".

        http://gizmodo.com/5847981/this-is-why-the-iphones-screen-will-always-be-35-inches

        "that is exactly why we would never see any larger screen iPhone. That 3.5-inch screen will be the ideal size until all humans are 7-feet tall and have hands the size of frying pans."

        Defend the hive.
        toddbottom3