The huge rise in huge phones: Bigger screens really are getting more popular

The huge rise in huge phones: Bigger screens really are getting more popular

Summary: Stats from Norway show the thirst for large mobiles is growing - but phablets? Not so much.


NetCom, Norway's second largest mobile operator, this week released figures for its smartphone sales in the country. The stats — collected from all of NetCom's channels, its 61 stores nationwide, its online shop and its dealers — reveal two major trends in the country: users are turning to larger and larger screens, and Apple's iPhone is maintaining its firm grip on the Norwegian market.

Screen sizes

The distribution of mobiles sold by NetCom since start of 2012 ordered by screen size tells a clear story.

The distribution of phones sold by Netcom ordered by screen size in inches
The distribution of phones sold by Netcom ordered by screen size in inches. Image: Netcom

At start of 2012, nearly 70 percent of devices had a screen size of 3.5 inches or smaller. By the start of this August, that proportion had shrunk to 20 percent.

In contrast, handsets with screen sizes of between 4.6 and five inches has grown considerably, now accounting for almost 60 percent of all devices, compared to single-digit share at the start of last year.

"This shows a radical change in user habits for smartphones. More and more users are streaming TV and movies on the mobile and [would] rather surf the internet on their phone than their PC. It's obvious that a bigger screen is better suited for our modern user habits," NetCom said in a statement.

With this trend in mind, NetCom is eagerly awaiting the next batch of smartphones to be launched this autumn, for example the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, with its 6.4-inch screen.

Apple domination

NetCom also reports that 55 percent of the smartphones sold last month were Apple iPhones. On the monthly top ten list of smartphone models sold, Apple holds three of the four top spots: the number one selling device is the iPhone 5, number three is the iPhone 4 and number four is the iPhone 4S. In between on the number two slot, there's Samsung Galaxy S4.

When it comes to smartphones, Norway is something of an anomaly. In the country, iOS is still is the market leader, while globally, Android-based devices began outselling iPhones a couple of years ago and now account for three in four smartphones sold.

Topics: Mobile OS, Smartphones, EU

Stig Øyvann

About Stig Øyvann

Stig spent some fifteen years working in the IT industry before upgrading to becoming a freelance technology writer. Mostly he writes for business IT magazines, but sometimes he turns his hand to consumer-oriented articles too. "A brand new digital camera is fun, but it’s a bulletproof server that makes the world go round" is Stig's point of view.

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  • RE: Monster phones

  • Jobs was not always right

    While we have great respect for Steve Jobs, we also know that Jobs was not always right and he did make wrong decisions too even at his best times. He was probably right about 3.5 inch size is best for a single-handed phone, but he didn't foresee the desire people have for larger screens, and perhaps they don't mind using both hands just in order to enjoy bigger displays. the reality out there shows that people do like to have choices on size. a petite person and children might prefer small screens, and people with bigger palms can handle bigger screens. look at samsung's example, they make the same phones in almost every size, and they do sell well. I hope Apple would wake up and be itself again, to walk out of Jobs' shadow. I can't imagine how even more popular iphones would be if they provide more choices on screen size, say 4", 5" and 6", that'd cover most people and and at the same time not fragmenting too much. I believe Apple has the ability to strike a good balance there. it is too sad if Apple fails just because they refuse to be flexible in screen sizes. I hope they are not being too stubborn, as refusal to listen to customers will be the beginning to their end.
  • Phones Used To Be Large

    Some people try to suggest this is some kind of return to the large phones of around 1990. It's not. Those devices had tiny screens; their size was constrained by the need to contain the necessary electronics, antenna and battery. The difference with the modern phone is the constraint is now mainly the screen size.