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New iPhone could already be too small for the market

Samsung’s Galaxy Note with its 5.3in screen is becoming very popular in Europe

While Apple has been locked in its courtroom battle with Samsung, strange things have been happening out in the world, especially outside the USA. Big phones are becoming very popular. I see it every day and I have previously commented on how much I like the new smartphones with larger screens of 4.7in and, even, 5.3in in the case of the Samsung Galaxy Note.

In contrast, the new iPhone with its 4in screen is likely to be a a bit underwhelming when it surfaces on September 12. Could it be a case of too small, too late? If even I am looking over my shoulder at the big-screen phones, what effect are they having on the uncommitted, those who are not already enjoying the Apple eco-system?

You can hardly blame them for preferring the bigger display, especially when the price is often lower than Apple’s.

Since the cellphone became popular 20 years ago there have been two distinct phases in development. In phase one the phones shrank and shrank. Tiny was smart.

Then along came the iPhone and changed all that. Emphasis moved away from making phone calls to browsing the web, email, games and media consumption. Since then devices have been getting bigger and small size is no longer the most desirable feature.

I am not alone in using my smartphone less and less for its original primary purpose of making calls. Some days I carry the iPhone around with me and make not a single voice call. Instead, I communciate by SMS, email and Twitter. In most ways it is more efficient, if less personal.

The very name “smartphone” is now outdated. It is only a matter of time before “phone” is dropped from the name. In the UK and many other countries a cellphone is called a “mobile”; even here in Greece “kineto” simply means mobile. Germans have always called used “Handy” and the term is actually growing into the reality.

So here we are at the tail-end of 2012 with a new iPhone and a screen size that is beginning to look decidedly dated. For once, Apple has failed to anticipate a fashion. The very name, iPhone, is no longer an apt description of the device.

With a 5 or 5.3in screen, the new breed of phone is really a small tablet with the ability to make the odd phone call. Perhaps this is what we really need to be carrying around instead of both iPhone and iPad.

by Mike Evans, 3 September 2012