Ihnatko makes all kinds of sense on smartphone screen size

| Friday, October 7th, 2011

Andy Ihnatko, the well-known Mac journalist and writer whose name I’ve been misspelling for nearly a decade, had some interesting and very intelligent things to say about an article by Dustin Curtis in which Apple is belittled for choosing a 3.5-inch screen whereas several Android and Windows phones sport a full 4-inches (yes, folks; apparently there’s controversy to be had over precisely half an inch of phone real estate). Today on Google+, Ihnatko linked to the article and wrote up some characteristically pithy and clear thoughts on the topic.

Eschewing simplistic binary judgment of screen size (“that doesn’t mean that a 4″ display is wrong. No more than an 3.5″ display is ‘wrong'”, Ihnatko instead uses the opportunity to point out some differences between how Apple does things and how Android does:

[quote]An iPhone is a brilliant experience right out of the box, because Apple has done so much thinking and planning and made so many choices on your behalf. An Android phone is brilliant, um, about three weeks later, because by that time you’ve thrown out all of the stuff you don’t like and added everything that makes a phone uniquely yours.[/quote]

And then…

[quote]What makes the iPhone better — not presumptively better, just better in general — is the fact that most people want something that’s brilliant on Day One.[/quote]

Personally speaking, I think that one of the great snake oil sales of the current tech generation is screen size versus resolution. Example: Where the Samsung Galasy S II has a larger screen size than the iPhone, few people mention that the iPhone has greater resolution. Why? Because there’s some sort of idea in PR people’s heads that bigger is always better where advertising is concerned (and, to be fair, that kind of thinking is sometimes rewarded). My issue is that there is a perfect size for every device and it’s neither a favor to go smaller or larger. Think for a moment: Where does a phone live? Probably in your pocket most of the time. Knowing this, do you want to shop for a phone that takes up as much real estate as possible? Or do you want something that fits “just so” while delivering higher resolution images? Personally speaking, I’d consider it something of a letdown if Apple bumped the iPhone up to 4-inch.

On a different but related note, I’m not in the habit of scooping comments and quotes from Google+ for the purposes of publication, but I’m almost positive that Andy keeps me in a circle entitled “The General Masses”, so I hope he doesn’t mind.

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