Over the past two weeks, I’ve had the pleasure to test out (and own) two of Android’s biggest devices, literally, first with the DROID DNA by HTC and then Samsung’s phablet, the Galaxy Note II. For a long time, I have been a proponent of Apple’s iPhone and its size. I’ve have always said how great it feels in your hand, no matter which model you held. It felt perfect. But after reviewing the DROID DNA, which features a massive 5-inch display, it too felt great. Even the Galaxy Note II, which is a little to big to feel great or perfect, still has me captivated, as I find myself taking it out of my pocket just to marvel as its size and screen real estate. While I still love my iPhone 5, recently, it has been sitting on my nightstand as nothing more than a glorified alarm clock. While Apple still has a few obstacles in its way to creating the perfect phone, like improving its maps app, updating its now aging UI and adding features that are now common place in Android, like facial recognition, NFC, wireless charging, photosphere, and a gesture based keyboard… the area where Apple needs to put more attention, is in its display and its size. Something they broke ground with, with the first Retina display, but have since let fall to the background.
One of the reasons that Samsung is doing so well, is because they offer customers a lot of “choices.” They have Android devices with a wide range of screens sizes, from 3.5-inches, all the way up to 5.5-inches. They make over a dozen smartphones, which for a company like Apple, may never happen. But Apple needs to realize one thing, their 4-inch (skinny) display, while beautiful, isn’t for everyone. Sure it fits the hand perfectly for millions of people—otherwise it would not have sold so well—but for millions of other people, it’s just too small. Because Apple has already established the 4-inch iPhone display, they need to keep it, as well as the 3.5-inch iPhone 4S (as a budget priced iPhone), but Apple needs to release two iPhones a year. The designs can be identical, with only the display being the main difference, but let’s just say that in May/June Apple releases an updated 4-inch iPhone, while October/November is reserved for the larger 5-inch iPhone. For a larger iPhone, Apple should keep the same aspect ratio of the iPad 4 display and just scale it down to 5 inches and pack in as many pixels as possible… perhaps 1080p or more.
For those of you who think this is a silly idea, remember this, Apple didn’t want to create a smaller iPad either, because Steve Jobs thought it would be DOA, but it was the market and consumer demand that dictated Apple’s move. Now they have a full size iPad and the new iPad Mini. The message was loud and clear, people wanted different size iPads. The same logic should be applied to the iPhone, simply because phones aren’t a “one size fits all” product. A 5-inch iPhone that is built to the same aspect ratio as the iPad 4 would make for a gorgeous device, especially when it’s combined with a new UI and Industrial design by Jony Ive and his team and some serious overhaul to iOS and its features list.
If it will ever happen, is anyone’s guess. But the fact remains, Samsung is mopping the floor with not only other Android OEM’s, but Apple too. If Apple can create a new iPhone, in the same vein as the DROID DNA, which features a massive 5-inch display, but manages to keep a light and thin profile, not only would Apple attract a new group of consumers, but perhaps they may even gain back some of that precious marketshare that Android seems to be taking month by month.
Sadly, we’ve already seen leaked photos of the so called iPhone 5S’s back cover, which will basically just be the iPhone 5, with a slightly faster processor, maybe a better camera and possibly even NFC… but overall, the device will be the same as this years iPhone. Maybe with the iPhone 6, Apple will finally usher in a new era of iPhones, with a “truly” redesigned body, not just a variation of one. But will it be too late by then? Will Apple fans remain loyal to their brand over the next two years and deal with a phone that still has just a 4-inch display, with a resolution that was once the standard and the same basic body with a metal band that has existed for nearly 4+ years? Or, will they jump ship to Android, which is offering cutting edge innovations, bigger and better displays—which feature over 440ppi—and includes technologies like a digital wallet, Android Beam, wireless charging and more? Time will certainly tell, but if I were running Apple, you better believe I’d want more of the pie and if making an iPhone XL were to get me a bigger piece, it would have already been in development six months ago.