I have always liked big smartphones with shiny screens that can display a web page nice and large. I jumped on the first Android phone with a 4.3-inch display, and got excited when the first 4.5-inch phone appeared. I used my phone for so many different tasks that the jumbo-sized screen was a benefit. So why do I think the measly 3.5-inch iPhone 4S display is big enough? Tablets.
I jumped on the EVO 4G with its wonderful 4.3-inch display when it first hit the scene and I loved that big screen. Surfing the web was a great experience, and overall I found the big display to be a tremendous benefit.
When I switched to the Nexus S 4G a few months back I was concerned that the smaller 4-inch display would yield an inferior user experience strictly due to the loss of screen. Over time I have come to realize that's not the case.
I always have three or four tablets around here, and seeing me with one of them in hand is a common sight. It may be an Android tablet or perhaps the TouchPad. I use tablets all the time, as they are the perfect tool for working the web.
When I was debating whether I should order an iPhone 4S or not, I kept coming back to that small display. Having used so many phones with nice, large displays, how could I be satisfied with a paltry 3.5-inch screen? The more I though about my recent phone usage, the more I realized the screen size wasn't that big a factor.
While the Nexus S 4G is a great phone, I came to realize that I wasn't using it for web surfing much at all; that can be attributed to my heavy tablet usage. When I intend to get on the web for any extended time, I grab a tablet. The bigger tablet is much better for that, and the phone (any phone) not so much.
Another factor is web apps. Many popular web sites have good web apps designed to use the small phone display to maximum effect. ZDNet has apps for major phone platforms, for example, and other sites do too. I find I use them when away from a tablet and just have the phone in hand. They work just as well on small phone screens as they do larger ones, so the size is not an issue.
I admit I was surprised when I realized how little I was now using the phone for web stuff. I still do occasionally but it is no longer a major task. My main use for the phone is for running apps, and most make good use of smaller screens. For heavy lifting online I use a tablet, for lighter stuff the phone is fine. My heavy usage of tablets has eliminated my need for screen on my phone. A 3.5-inch display is just fine.