When it Comes to Smartphone Displays, Does Size Matter?

Over the last few years, there’s consistently been one feature about the iPhone I’d hoped Apple would change. Its display size. Say what you want about portability, but a 3.5″ screen is far from ideal for any kind of extended web browsing.

Needless to say, the Cupertino company hasn’t touched the iPhone’s screen size, and I’ve always kind of wondered why. Recently I came across an article by Dustin Curtis, a designer, that offers some interesting thoughts on Apple’s reasoning…

In the post, Curtis talks about an epiphany he had while using his recently purchased Samsung Galaxy S II:

“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 — 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.”

He goes on to explain that trying to touch the upper right hand of his Galaxy S II’s 4.2″ display with one hand is frustrating, and nearly impossible. With his iPhone 4, however, he found that he could reach the other side of the screen without straining.

Several tech writers have picked up on the article, and it has moved them to publish their own opinions. Here’s Marco Arment on the matter:

“As a four-year iPhone user, I’ve never thought, “You know what I don’t like about this phone? The screen’s too small. I’d like to reduce my battery life, and I’d like my phone to protrude from my pocket in a larger and more conspicuous rectangle to achieve a larger screen that I cannot comfortably use one-handed. That would be completely worth it.”

I agree with Arment in the fact that I don’t think I would want my iPhone much bigger than it already is. But I do enjoy the extra screen real estate on my girlfriend’s Droid Bionic when browsing around eBay and other websites.

If you ask me, an iPhone with a 3.7-4.0-inch display would be perfect. Users would enjoy the larger viewing area, and could still comfortably operate the handset with one hand. What’s your idea of the perfect smartphone screen size?