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  • Why Does the iPhone Have a 3.5 Inch Screen?

    The iPhone has had a 3.5 inch screen since its release. That probably isn't going to change.

    Every app in the App Store is made with the loving fact that it will work on all iPod Touches and iPhones alike. Why is this? Because the screen sizes are all the same. Some apps have adapted for the retina display, some are still running on the resolution of the iPhone 3GS and older. They all have one thing in common; a 3.5 inch display.

    So what is it that makes the iPhone's 3.5 inch screen a hit? That's an interesting question to think about. Especially since there are other phones selling high amounts with absolutely massive screens. The Galaxy S II, pictured above, has a screen that is almost an inch larger than the iPhone 4S's screen.

    A designer, named Dustin Curtis has a very good speculation to put into perspective for all of us:
    Quote Originally Posted by Dustin Curtis
    I’ve been wondering why Apple chose to make the iPhone 4′s screen 3.5-inches when other comparable phones with Android and Windows Phone 7 have larger, more inviting screens. When you first see a phone with a 4-inch or larger screen, it seems like a much better experience. I thought it was a technical decision, and it could be, but since switching to an Android phone — a Samsung Galaxy S II, the “best Android phone you can buy, anywhere” — 15 days ago, I have realized another huge downside of larger screens: when holding the phone with one hand, I can’t reach the other side of the screen with my thumb.

    Touching the upper right corner of the screen on the Galaxy S II using one hand, with its 4.27-inch screen, while you’re walking down the street looking at Google Maps, is extremely difficult and frustrating. I pulled out my iPhone 4 to do a quick test, and it turns out that when you hold the iPhone in your left hand and articulate your thumb, you can reach almost exactly to the other side of the screen. This means it’s easy to touch any area of the screen while holding the phone in one hand, with your thumb. It is almost impossible to do this on the Galaxy S II.
    The idea that Curtis is putting onto the table is that the specifically fixed 3.5 inch screen makes one-handed use much easier. It's not impossible to use one hand with the 4.27 inch Galaxy S II, although you really need to wrench your hand across the phone to reach. This comes with the chance of dropping it, or having to use a second hand. When you're holding your phone with one hand, chances are that you're using the other hand for something else, although many times I find myself just lazily having one hand in my pocket while enjoying the fact that it's there.

    As indicated by the image above, the average thumb-span of phone users meets the criteria of of the green area when the phone is held in portrait position. As shown, most of the iPhone's screen is very accessible by the thumb when the hand is placed in a comfortable position on the phone. When the same is done on the larger screen, an average sized thumb won't be able to reach without some major extension or wrenching of one's hand.

    On the iPhone, there are usually navigation buttons on both the top left and top right of the screen. It's nice to be able to reach both in a tight situation, although on the larger screen the top right navigation button would be inaccessible.

    When holding the phone in landscape mode, two hands usually support the phone. So on a larger screen, both thumbs cover most of the area accessible to input data into the phone. In this case, landscape orientation appears to be good for both handsets. The weakness of larger screens is portrait mode where people generally don't use two hands unless it's necessary. It generally feels pretty awkward to hold a small device with two hands. I would find myself using two hands on a larger screen more so than on the iPhone; it seems like that would get pretty inconvenient if I was multitasking and needed my other hand.

    I find myself many times using two hands when my arms are propped over a desk. When I'm walking, standing, or laying down, I mostly only use one hand. I think I'm pretty content with this screen size and I'm not sure I'd like a larger screen. The 3.5 inch screen seems to be great for ergonomics.

    Where does the 'bigger screen' come to an end? What will happen if a company comes out with a 5.5-6 inch smartphone screen? Why not just buy a 3G tablet? Perhaps the most important question to ask, is, what kind of device are you looking for?

    I would have to continue to support the iPhone's current screen size. How do you cope with your 3.5 inch iPod Touch or iPhone screen? Do you own a larger screen? If so leave a comment below on how this perspective made you think about your screen size!

    Sources: Redmond Pie
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Why Does the iPhone Have a 3.5 Inch Screen? started by Anthony Bouchard View original post
    Comments 104 Comments
    1. ChSchuldiner's Avatar
      ChSchuldiner -
      Quote Originally Posted by Go Gators View Post
      This is article is so funny! I knew it wouldn't take long for someone to start justifying why Apple kept the same screen size. What's funny is that we read over and over about how great the new 4" screen is going to be on the new iPhone. Now that everyone is stuck with the same old 3.5" screen, it's all of a sudden great and acceptable again. The hypocrisy of the writers on this site is just too funny sometimes. They will cover for their beloved Apple no matter what happens. It's actually, very sad! So when the iPhone 5 does finaly come out and has a 4" screen, we'll read articles on here about how great it is and how they can't understand why Apple kept the 3.5" screen for so long. Lol!
      "derp derp derp derp"

      Did I repeat him spot-on?
    1. cpotoso's Avatar
      cpotoso -
      Simple... who wants that monster with the huge screen (and huge body) in his/her pocket? Does not fit. Phones at 3.5" are OK, tablets at 7 to 10". There is no "space" in the middle.
    1. n0m0n's Avatar
      n0m0n -
      Sounds nutz to me that they wouldn't offer a larger screen becuase you cant reach across it from one side to the other...Wait a minute I hated that about the DroidX.At times I had to stop doing what I was doing if walking or whatever, and hold my DX with my right hand so that I could use my left when reaching across the screen (left side) to type.That said the DX is a 4.3" screen, so a 4" screen wouldn't be that much of a stretch.I do have a hard time typing on my iPh4, I try to tap on the "M" and always end up deleting the last letter.I try to tap on the "I" and get a "O", or "U"...If I'm going to be stuck with a 3.5" screen (Love the iPh) I wish someone would create a alternative keyboard that addresses my issue.Thanks
    1. dsg's Avatar
      dsg -
      your holding it wrong...
    1. n0m0n's Avatar
      n0m0n -
      Quote Originally Posted by dsg View Post
      your holding it wrong...
      You saying I don't know how to hold my device???

      If so then how do you hold a device?
    1. mortopher's Avatar
      mortopher -
      Quote Originally Posted by BenderRodriguez View Post
      Really? How do u think ppl text and drive? No retard would use to hands to type while driving and use there leg to hold the wheel, and most ppl are smart enough to be able to text 1 handed maybe your intelligence hasn't gotten to that level yet?
      I'm talking portrait mode only, if u it FAT fingers then landscape makes since, and not saying I only only use I hand to text

      How is it about the money? Wow
      If they design a bigger phone:
      1. more ppl would jump to it
      2. Apps would get redesigned and new apps would enter(money for the AppStore and developers)
      3.ppl would stop complaining and making useless threads like this when the item has been the same size since day one

      More money and pleasure all around
      Texting while driving is stupid in the first place.

      By the way, it isn't very wise to attack someone's intelligence with a post that appears to be written by a seven year old.
    1. dsg's Avatar
      dsg -
      Quote Originally Posted by n0m0n View Post
      You saying I don't know how to hold my device???

      If so then how do you hold a device?
      no sorry I was just responding to the article,

      I believe I could reach the whole of the 4.21" screen with one hand if you hold right

      Edit: could just be that I have big hands
    1. d_animality's Avatar
      d_animality -
      LoL.. I thought larger screens cause some display issue when i first read about this article.. And yet its only about a thumb can reach here or not which is not really important specs if im looking forward to a high tech devices.. Maybe they should add in every device's spec list: - Camera = 8MP - Thumb can reach whole screen = Yes LoL..
    1. Anthony Bouchard's Avatar
      Anthony Bouchard -
      Quote Originally Posted by d_animality View Post
      LoL.. I thought larger screens cause some display issue when i first read about this article.. And yet its only about a thumb can reach here or not...
      Ah, the writer's trap. It makes sure that my readers are reading more than the RSS heading.
    1. d_animality's Avatar
      d_animality -
      Quote Originally Posted by Anthony Bouchard View Post
      Ah, the writer's trap. It makes sure that my readers are reading more than the RSS heading.
      well it works :P
    1. sejoki's Avatar
      sejoki -
      That's just bogus, you're looking for something that isn't there. The article makes it seem like they just unveiled a huge mystery - they didn't. I don't have big hands and I have no trouble reaching across a 4" screen, even the top left corner (holding my phone in the right hand) is no problem. There's no anatomic reason for the screen being 3.5", I really want to know how this guy holds his phone.
    1. d_animality's Avatar
      d_animality -
      Quote Originally Posted by sejoki View Post
      That's just bogus, you're looking for something that isn't there. The article makes it seem like they just unveiled a huge mystery - they didn't. I don't have big hands and I have no trouble reaching across a 4" screen, even the top left corner (holding my phone in the right hand) is no problem. There's no anatomic reason for the screen being 3.5", I really want to know how this guy holds his phone.
      well yea u can say that again but no big deal ... thats what magazine always do.. lol (this saying is out of topic) .. haha
    1. Anthony Bouchard's Avatar
      Anthony Bouchard -
      Quote Originally Posted by sejoki View Post
      That's just bogus, you're looking for something that isn't there. The article makes it seem like they just unveiled a huge mystery - they didn't. I don't have big hands and I have no trouble reaching across a 4" screen, even the top left corner (holding my phone in the right hand) is no problem. There's no anatomic reason for the screen being 3.5", I really want to know how this guy holds his phone.
      Take average sized hands:



      To accurately reach across a 4+ inch screen, you must uncomfortably, and un-ergonomically wrench your hand across the phone.



      But with a 3.5 inch screen, you can comfortably reach most of the screen.

    1. Poseidon79's Avatar
      Poseidon79 -
      It's all about averages. 50% of the world (give or take) is female and have smaller hands. Is it just me or do you not see many women at all with huge Android devices? Apple doesn't market their device to the top 1% male tech nerd that sees bigger as better. Having one screen size makes it easy for devs to code... gives the user a more seamless experience.. and the 3.5" screen is governed by the law of averages with regard to hand size and ergonomics. One comment above really hit home for me when it was said they would have to stop what they're doing or set something down in order to respond to a text or do whatever needs to be done. Driving while texting yet dangerous is very common and LESS dangerous if you don't have to take both hands off the wheel to do it. Also I wouldn't like having to put down my beer every time I need to respond to a text haha. I think this article put a good perspective on screen size. I was hoping for a larger screen actually but in retrospect I might have hated it considering my habits.
    1. d_animality's Avatar
      d_animality -
      oh btw since u all are active in here.. im trying to rss feed modmyi into my lockinfo but to no avail... i dont know what web links to put.... please help... modmyi.com doesnt show anything
    1. Anthony Bouchard's Avatar
      Anthony Bouchard -
      Quote Originally Posted by d_animality View Post
      oh btw since u all are active in here.. im trying to rss feed modmyi into my lockinfo but to no avail... i dont know what web links to put.... please help... modmyi.com doesnt show anything
      Try using their Twitter.
    1. Poseidon79's Avatar
      Poseidon79 -
      Quote Originally Posted by d_animality View Post
      oh btw since u all are active in here.. im trying to rss feed modmyi into my lockinfo but to no avail... i dont know what web links to put.... please help... modmyi.com doesnt show anything
      It actually does have an RSS feed link in the top right corner of the home page next to the twitter and facebook links.
    1. d_animality's Avatar
      d_animality -
      do u mean this? --> ModMyi.com News Feed ... tried adding it but no luck
    1. Poseidon79's Avatar
      Poseidon79 -
      Yes... if it doesn't work it may be a lockinfo issue.
    1. d_animality's Avatar
      d_animality -
      got it worked.. lol i just didnt add https in front of it.. thanks