For five years Apple’s iPhones have had the same 3.5-inch screen when competition moved up to bigger canvases, measuring all the way up to five inches and beyond. With this year’s iPhone, Apple increased the screen to four inches. The company even defends the move with ergonomics being the primary concern for making the screen taller but not wider. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak reflects on Apple’s stubborn insistence on one-size-fits-all approach and wishes the iPhone came in at least two sizes…

Steve Wozniak was in Johannesburg to speak at First National Bank’s leadership summit. In an interview with TechCentral editor Duncan McLeod transcribed by The Next Web, the Woz reveals what’s been ticking him off.

Here’s where it bothers me. I walk into my phone stores: AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and I see all these modern smartphones. Big, big, big, big, and there’s the iPhone.

If you compare the screen size right there in front of you, whether it means much or not, it may be fewer pixels, less information on the screen, but you get a feeling you’re getting more with a larger screen.

I’m not sure if I’m with Woz here. I’m all for variety and choice, but have you seen flagship Android devices lately? They’re massive and I mean massive.

Kinda up to a point when I’d feel embarrassed operating a “phone” with a display measuring nearly five inches diagonally. But I agree with Wozniak that the tiny iPhone getting drowned in the sea of jumbo-sized Android handsets sends the wrong message.

Size does matter, but only to a certain extent.

Anyone can make a smartphone with a massive display for the Gorilla hands.

Making a phone call in public on a 5.3-inch phablet. Not a pretty sight, eh?

It takes someone of Apple’s caliber and technological prowess to cram up 4G LTE, a fast processor, a long-lasting battery and other technologies into as compact a package as the iPhone 5 is.

In fact, from the engineering standpoint a device like Samsung’s Galaxy Note phablet is much easier to engineer than the four-inch iPhone 5, simply because space is not at premium inside the Note due to its massive 5.3-inch display footprint.

What about the iPad?

That talk doesn’t apply to the iPad though. The iPad always had a great price for the size of the screen. Why would you want to buy the smaller screen devices? They looked a lot more like copies than any of the phones did.

I beg to differ.

If anything, brisk Nexus 7 sales prove there’s a demand for smaller tablets.

I love my iPad and use it every day, but I’m also using a Nexus 7 and wish there was a smaller, much lighter iPad available that could just slip into my pants pocket (or women’s purses).

Sure enough, Apple needs to be less arrogant here and admit that 9.7-inch is not the be-all-end-all form factor for the tablet.

So, what exactly is Wozniak yearning for?

Part of me wishes that Apple had not been so kind of arrogant and feeling we’re the only one with the right clue. I wish they had made a small and a large version of the iPhone; that would have been great for me. Keep the aspect ratio the same, horizontal and vertical the same, but just grow it in the other way.

According to our poll, nearly half the respondents think a four inch display should be the new gold standard for iPhones.

I think Apple tricked itself and said ‘oh you could reach everything with one thumb’ and I don’t see anybody having any trouble using the larger screens. Apple said that as a defensive move because when the other phones came out they all had larger screens.

He’s right about Apple making the case for the 3.5-inch form factor as a defensive move.

Apple is now saying that four inches diagonally is the optimal screen size for comfortable one-hand operation (and I approve the message).

It could be argued the other way around, that Apple gave the iPhone 5 a taller display because

Apple is now trying to run with that defence, saying ‘we are right’ and really there’s a mix of people. Not all people want the same thing and a lot of people really like the big screens.

I’m pretty sure Android vendors build Gorilla-sized phones not out of conviction or as a result of research but to differentiate themselves from the iPhone and isolate Apple as the only vendor stuck with small displays.

So if I’m reading Woz’s comments correctly, Apple should make an iPhone with a massively large display just because “a lot of people really like the big screens”?

Since when does Apple skate to where the puck is?

Then again, maybe norms are shifting (and this isn’t so bad)?

  • Charlie

    Why make fun of the Note? o.O Woz was talking about the phones that are smaller than 5″.

  • I have used an S3 temporarily* for a week and I really found the huge display to be annoying. I prefer the iPhone 5’s display size because you can actually use it with one hand. And judging by the 5,000,000 iphone 5 pre-orders launch weekend people seem to enjoy displays that are 4″ still

    • BLTKOR

      Yes but the 20.000.000+ galaxy s3 users would think otherwise. People like the iphone 5 but more seam to like the galaxy s3 btw i switched as the iphone 5 was not for me.

      • Yujin

        Are those sales to customers or carriers.

      • BLTKOR

        Customer sales. Far as i know. In turkey and romania the phone retails half the price of the iphone.that boosted sales and samsung have a massive ad campaign

      • CollegiateLad

        So I’m guessing the 37,000,000 iPhone 4S’ disagree with you? Or the 35 million the quarter after that? Or the 26 million after that? If you’re counting, that’s 98 million iPhone 4S’. Since Apple doesn’t disclose sales by device, I don’t know how many of those were iPhone 4.

      • BLTKOR

        What is wrong with you? We are talking about screen size Not apple sells more or less than samsung. Do you want to compare all phones that where sold in the same period with 4+ inch displays? Yeah more than 98million is it not. Please stop sucking corporate dick. I bet you guys do not defend your family as passionately as your dame apple or samsung.

  • DC_Guy

    I REALLY wish Apple would increase the size of the iPhone. Maybe that would deter me from thinking so hard (and often) about the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

    • CollegiateLad

      Get the note and see how you like it. You can always switch back if you don’t like it.

    • pegger1

      If you’re considering a Note, then iPhone shouldn’t be on your radar at all. You really want Apple to increase the iPhone to Note size?

      • DC_Guy

        No, I’d be happy with an iPhone the size of the GS3…4.8 inches.

  • Want galaxy s3

  • tret songz

    the text above the picture said… phones made for gorilla hands.. AND THEY PUT A BLACK MAN HOLDING A PHONE.. thats just wrong lol

    • Yujin

      I was gonna say the same thing. Wrong in so many levels but funny hahaha

  • word what he said

  • ic0dex

    It’s not the size that matters, it’s how you use it!

    • pegger1

      Is that what you tell your girlfriend?

      • MagicDrumSticks


      • ic0dex

        Ask your girlfriend she’s tell you how I stuffed her up last night.

  • CollegiateLad

    It’s just marketing. Like Samsung making fun of long iPhone lines. They would give anything to have customers line up all over the world for their phones.

    • I agree with you. They are jealous that they never get people to stand in line for their phones.

  • That photo was taken in Zagreb. Just a wild guess. 🙂
    Pozdrav iz SB/Osijeka!

  • MagicDrumSticks

    Agreed with Woz, the man is very unbiased in his views and I have to agree. 4 inches is still way to small compared to 4.8 on the galaxy S3. The note is there for people who want something even larger, but honestly the Note is NOT the flagship phone for Samsung, it’s the S3.

    Honestly the one hand thing is such a dumb excuse on Apple’s part. The S3 shouldn’t be a problem to type on with one thumb and even if it is, why dont you just use two hands to type faster?I use my 4s with 2 hands when I type

    • CollegiateLad

      Makers of 7″ tablets use the same “excuse” when comparing their tablets to the iPad… They all highlight one handed use. But in all honesty you can’t use a 7″ tablet with one hand because you have to hold it in one and type with the other. It’s called marketing, Apple would be foolish to say larger screens are superior/beneficial since their screens are smaller than the competition. I prefer the smaller 4″ iPhone but I wouldn’t say it’s inferior or superior, it’s all a matter of taste.

      • MagicDrumSticks

        In the case of tablets, I would choose the iPad due to larger screen. But I thought we are talking about phones here?

        Bigger is better. Just like how we want bigger batteries, bigger portion sizes etc.

      • CollegiateLad

        Garbage. If bigger meant better, we’d have a 10″ phone or a 20″. Bigger doesn’t equate to better. I like a smaller screen and you like a bigger one… Guess who’s right? Both, cause it’s about preference and personal taste. And we are talking phones, I’m just illustrating how companies say anything to hype their product.

      • MagicDrumSticks

        To each his own I guess. I respect yor opinion and appreciate you being mature in our debate 🙂

  • pegger1

    In that iPhone thumb ad, it’s not really accurate, he’s not even holding the phone. It’s either an above view and it’s just resting on his hand or they’re using some other trick to hold the phone. But he definitely doesn’t have a grip on it.

    • Kurt

      they have the phone attached to somethig from behind…each cut way, they shift the phone so he can reach other other corners. you can’t tap the home button and without moving your hand and the phone tap the top of the phone. everyone on this site is a moron. you can’t even do it on an iphone 4s with a 3.5 inch screen

      • pegger1

        Thank you. Nice to see not everyone is blind. I have a 4S and happy with it, I’m not against the phone. But clearly the phone is being supported in this ad.

      • Kurt

        unfortunately most people on this site are idiots or so blind in their love affair with steve and apple that they won’t admit to his. i like my iphone 4Same too…the sides are beautiful. and the apps we have access to are awesome. but i dont like apples commercials. they had a comercial for the 4s which aired during the keynote that showed how smooth and how the video just glides because of the image stabilizer. the video was when they were running through the field and the clips of the hot air balloon. they used an iphone attached to a boom/camera crane that allows for no jitter/camera shake. just plain dishonst. the iphone 4s does not have IS. my lenses for my dslr do and they are awesome. just like the lumia 920, that phone has awesome IS because of the floating lens. check out the reviews on youtube. amazing!

    • Lee

      If you actually look at the phone, the phone is moving with his hand. It’s not supported. Also, I have a 5, and I can reach in all the same places that he is reaching. My hand moves around as I do it, but I can do pretty much all with one hand… So no, I don’t agree with you.

      • pegger1

        I didn’t say you can’t use the phone with one hand. Yes, the phone is moving with his hand but If you actually look at the video he has no grip on the phone. It’s obvious on the thumb side that his hand isn’t even touching. It’s very clearly being supported. Give it a try for yourself, hold the phone just like him and duplicate his movements keeping the phone steady like that and then do it again supporting the phone with your other hand. You’ll see, if you don’t, then you’re really dillusional. I don’t care either way, I have an iPhone. I was just pointing something out.

  • Andrew

    Also worth noting, Samsung is to release a galaxy s3 mini… with a 4 inch display… They HAD to make the screens bigger to be able to incorporate the 4G chips and batteries.




    • Kurt

      its a lie…why am i one of the few to actually try. pick up your iphone. and don’t move your phone or you hand. only move your thumb. reach and tap on all four corners. it’s impossible you must move the phone. so since you must move the phone its just as easy to do it on a larger device. apple cuts away in the video and shifts the phone. its impossible to reach all four corners with only moving your them. you must move your hand and tilt the phone .


        I have an iPhone 4 and have no problem reaching all 4 corners with my thumb – not that it is necessary as the keyboard rests only in the lover portion of the phone (landscape or portrait).

  • Sometimes a feel that Woz is just jealous of Apple. He always criticize all apple products…Often he is right, but seems too much for me…

    • GNexusPhone5

      This. now-a-days he’s behaving like a mindless fandroid.

    • Yujin

      We all know that this Steve is a nice guy. Just not the best Steve to run apple and turn it into what it is today. If woz was in charge apple would be another Samsung. And would probably turn the 120 billions into debt

    • smtp25

      To a point Woz is just riding the coat tales of apple (which he left moons ago). But he does the ‘keeping it real’ statements. Non apple fanboys do want a bit bigger screen, fanboys saying get a tablet are deluding themselves. you can’t carry a tablet everywhere you go. 4.3″ is a good compromise between size and functionality. My guess would be that S3 mini will be back to S2 size

  • i think apple made the right move with making the screen taller but not wider.

  • There’s more too it than just the ergonomics of a comfortable device (which the iPhone is), there’s the issue of screen resolution. If you make the screen bigger, you have to scale older software to fit the screen properly, which takes processing power and battery life, only to come up with an image that doesn’t look as good due to the oddball scaling that needs to be done (the only way to avoid is to double the resolution in both directions. What Apple did was, of course, the impossible. The made the screen bigger, but just vertically. This makes the canvas larger, yet no scaling needs to be done. Old software is simply centered vertically and no scaling is done. The other way would to be to keep the resolution the same, but make the screen bigger, which is what the android phones have done, and that means lowering the ppi, thus lowering the image quaility. Steve (Jobs) was right that comfortable to hold, ultra high resolution, high quality ips displays, no rescaling and longer battery life outweigh simply “a bigger screen”. My iPhone 5 is great and I love it. I love Woz too, but can’t agree with ya this time man…. still love ya though !

  • Ryan C

    I think the issue here is arrogance. Apple has been able to have people
    line up around the block for just 1 phone, and it’s gotten to their
    heads. Really, it takes everything Apple’s got to make just 1 phone?

    that they are sitting on piles of cash, how about offering their loyal
    following a choice? Not the choice of 4, 4S, and 5, but something else?
    Something current.

    Apple makes great mobile products which is
    why I buy them. But by offering things like Siri and iCloud, advertised
    by their marketing geniuses, they’ve roped you into their ecosystem on
    THEIR terms. That’s why I jailbreak. I want features and choice as well
    as a great product. They can go hand-in-hand.

    • CollegiateLad

      Wrong. Apple has always maintained a narrow range or a small focus when it comes to products. Apple’s belief is to focus on one thing and try to be great at it. And you do have a choice, if you don’t like what Apple offers, you can choose something different. Also, everyone tries to lock you into their ecosystem and you must abide by their terms.

      • Ryan C

        I can’t argue with the small focus mantra, but with Tim Cook at the reigns and the amount of revenue and cash this company has I feel it’s less about making the single great product for the focus than it is for maintaining the “most valuable company” title.

        My point is Apple is arrogant, and “if you don’t like our phone go buy from someone else” drives it home. Why not create something so you aren’t sending your disgruntled customers to your competitors? Apple surely has the means.

      • CollegiateLad

        Apple has said many times that they create products that they themselves would want to use. Even if they built a larger phone, there would still be disgruntled customers who defect to the competition. Why? Because you can’t please everyone – It’s impossible. They can’t even keep up with demand for one iPhone. How would they manage 3 or 4 additional models.

        I get where you’re coming from, but that’s just not how Apple runs its business. They can’t be everything to everyone and they don’t try to. I think their razor like focus is one of the primary reasons for their success.

  • I like the iphone size just fine, I do think apple could have made it a tiny bit larger if only to go to a standard 720p resolution size. That extra mm or so wouldn’t be an issue to me.

    The only problem is ‘accessories’ this is the main issue with apple devices, people complain about their new devices not fitting old accessories, never heard that about other companies who change phone size, shape and connector also.

    Sure Apple changed to lightning connector for the 5 but everyone else changed to micro or mini usb too etc, If I had those devices, I’d also still need to buy new stuff to make them fit, but they’ll all still be compatible with a basic line out from the headphone socket.

  • Obsidian71

    People are missing the big picture here. The larger phones aren’t just selling because they look impressive on a store shelf. If you look at US demographics the Baby Boomer are in their 50s now and few still have 20/20. Large phones means larger text which is easier to read.

    Apple needs to bifurcate the iPhone lineup. Todays 4″ tall and slim will suffice for some and then offer a 5″ or larger phone for those that like Phablets. There is a market for it.

  • GNexusPhone5

    now-a-days, Wozniak behaving like a mindless fandroid.

  • iNfAMOUS70702

    Loved my 4S but after getting the SGSIII I could never go back to a smaller screen…the HD super amoled screen on this beast is beautiful…gotta love the woz and his unbiased viewpoints

    • Yujin

      There is a reason why this Steve didn’t get the glory he deserved.

  • Yujin

    I can operate my phone with one hand. I see people with the galaxy note 2 and try look ridiculous. Specially the little girls in the subway holding a phone bigger than their head

    • Kurt

      are you jealous of their small heads? you must be one of those koreans with huge ass heads

  • If you want a big phone, get a tablet, and if you want a bigger tablet, get a laptop. The iPhone is the perfect size, and android phones with massive displays are just hiding the fact that Android sucks and wishes it was iOS. Apple doesnt need gimmicks to sell their hardware. If screen size makes you want to switch to an inferior device then please do

    • Anirudh B

      If the iPhone was the perfect size, why did Apple feel the need to make it bigger? If customers don’t want big screens, why did the Galaxy S3 outsell the 10-month old 4S in 3 months?

    • Altechi

      Siri for iphone 4S. And apple doesn’t need gimmicks to sell hardware?

  • Nesar Alom

    Just wait another year and u will soon have a 5 inch iPhone . Then Apple will say two hands are better than one. It’s just marketing but it always works cuz they are APPLE.

    • Kurt

      exactly, and if they say that two hands are abetter than one, they won’t be lying. it’s impossible to hit all four corners by ONLY moving your thumb. you must move your hand and the phone to hit all 4 corners. give me a larger phone!

  • So if size matters the Note is now the industry standard for a smartphone?? We should all have ten inch tablet-sized phones in a few years then.

  • its called a phone for a reason smh .. dafuq would i want a phone tha doubles as a tablet

  • Kurt

    notice in the video…the at each cut away the iphone shifts in place. its impossible to hold the phone,and ONLY move your thumb to each four corner. you must move your hand and phone!

    lies lies lies…

  • From 1990 to 2005 every year they buid smaller phones, and now they go just the other direction. Kinda funny.

  • Honestly with any electronic most people are brand loyal. Apple users may say Android sucks while Android users say Apple sucks. Being a tech junky I’ve used both Androids and iPhones. After using the iPhone 4 I’ll NEVER go back to Android…at least anytime soon. Apple just gets it. The iPhone is tailored to the customer. Whether it be ease of use, corporate functionality, camera enthusiasts, gamers, tech junkies, etc. iPhone has what you want/need. Yeah you can have an Android that barely fits in your pocket but Why? So my video is a little bigger? That’s what tablets are for…
    P.s. LOVING my iPhone 5…just saying.

  • “So if I’m reading Woz’s comments correctly, Apple should make an iPhone with a massively large display just because “a lot of people really like the big screens”? Since when does Apple skate to where the puck is?”
    Right… so Apple should completely ignore what their customer base wants in their products. Seems legit.

  • huge phones are horrible. Period.

  • But they do have different size form factors. One is massive (called an “iPad”) and now that have one called the “iPad Mini”. Problem is, only the “iPhone” is capable of making phone calls, which we can imagine will be phased out in exchange for “facetime” sms and email. They just need ONE more size factor in between the phone and the mini and it might just be perfect