Opinion Brief

The rumored 4-inch iPhone screen: Is bigger better?

The Wall Street Journal and Reuters report that Apple is preparing to debut a larger handset come fall. Say it ain't so, bemoan some nostalgic techies

Steve Jobs famously ordained that the iPhone's current 3.5-inch touchscreen was the perfect size for consumers, and Apple had been reluctant to veer from its celebrated founder's vision since the smartphone's unveiling in 2007. But now, The Wall Street Journal reports that Asian factories where the phone is manufactured have started placing orders for a new 4-inch display, and will soon begin production for a fall launch. (Reuters confirmed the report.) Androids, especially those in Samsung's Galaxy line, continue to push phones with screens four inches and larger, and sales seem to indicate that users are largely pleased with the added viewing space. Is it time for Apple to go big?

Bigger isn't better: Apple has been wisely hesitant to increase the gadget's screen size "to avoid one of Android's biggest problems: Fragmentation," says Salvador Rodriguez at the Los Angeles Times. Thanks to the iPhone's consistent screen size, third-party developers haven't had to continually redesign their apps to accommodate varying display sizes, which, as Android has demonstrated with its vast array of screen sizes, often leads to buggy interfaces. Apple already maintains "some of the best smartphone apps available." Why change?"iPhone to get larger screen: A report to take with a grain of salt?"

Huh? Bigger is much better: "I've been clamoring for a 4-inch iPhone ever since Samsung launched the first line of Galaxy S Android smartphones," says Sean Ludwig at VentureBeat. "It's the perfect size for reaching your thumbs across the screen and still lets you view content." With rivals like the HTC One X pushing 4.7 inches and the Samsung Galaxy S III hitting 4.8 inches, now is as good a time as ever for the iPhone to expand. "If the endless rumors of the 4-inch screen for the iPhone 5 are true, I'll be happy.""iPhone will have at least a 4-inch screen, says WSJ"

Either way, Apple isn't copying Android: Even if Apple does end up offering more screen real estate, the move would have nothing to do with Android, says Kevin C. Tofel at GigaOm. Apple doesn't care about the competition; it simply "develops products for the masses with attributes that appeal to most." Think of it like moving from a 32- to a 40-inch TV — a larger screen is an improved experience. "Between mobile apps, web browsing, and online video, a larger display that's still usable with one hand and fits in a pocket is simply more useful," and Apple knows it."Why a 4-inch iPhone makes sense (Hint: not due to Android)"

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