Mobile // Mobile Devices
10:58 AM

Smartphone Shoppers Prefer Larger Displays

T-Mobile USA says 77% of consumers prefer devices with screens larger than 4.5 inches. Where is the real sweet spot?

Samsung's Android Super Smartphone: Galaxy SIII
Samsung's Android Super Smartphone: Galaxy SIII
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Today, wireless network operators offer smartphones with screens ranging from 2.4 inches all the way up to 5.3 inches. Nearly every measurement in between is available, providing smartphone shoppers with an incredible amount of choice when it comes to screen size. Like 'em small? No problem. Want to carry around heavier artillery? Go for it.

Despite the large selection of screen sizes available, devices with larger displays are more popular, according to a survey conducted by T-Mobile USA. T-Mobile, in cooperation with Kelton, polled more than 1,000 Americans over age 18 between May 29 and June 5. T-Mobile and Kelton found that 77% of respondents would prefer a device with a screen measuring 4.5 inches or larger.

T-Mobile cited this survey as one reason behind its recent decision to offer the Samsung Galaxy Note, a "phablet" that has a 5.3-inch display with 800 x 1280 pixels. T-Mobile says the larger display makes "enjoying HD content and getting work done easier than ever."

Kelton's findings corroborate research published earlier this year from ABI. In particular, ABI Research said phablets have a bigger future than perhaps many believed they would. According to its data, more than 208 million phablets, like the Samsung Galaxy Note, will be shipped globally in 2015.

[ Apple tops the smartphone hardware market, but still Android Strengthens Lead Over U.S. Smartphone Rivals. ]

Samsung announced earlier this year that it had sold more than 5 million Galaxy Notes worldwide. The company is probably on track to reach 10 million Notes sold in the coming months. Now that it has added T-Mobile as a distributor in the United States, it has a better chance of reaching that goal.

Why is this device gaining acceptance? "One of the chief drivers for phablets is the amount of time people use their smartphones for Web browsing, reading articles, and newspapers on the go, or simply navigating their journeys," said senior analyst Joshua Flood. "The larger screen sizes make a significant difference to the user's experience when compared to conventional-sized touchscreens between 3.5 to 4 inches."

For the record, ABI Research defines phablets as devices that have screens measuring between 4.6 and 5.5 inches. This definition skews the numbers a bit, in my opinion. Many of today's top smartphones are shipping with screens in the 4.6- to 4.8-inch range. That includes devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy S III, and the HTC One X and EVO 4G LTE. These smartphones are flagship devices for these companies that will sell in the tens of millions of units, significantly inflating ABI's predictions.

"New phablet-styled devices provide an attractive two-in-one device proposition and are beginning to see the competition between these larger smartphone form factors and smaller media tablets (less than seven inches)," said ABI. This is true. With screens so large, many lacking the means to purchase both a smartphone and a tablet can choose the phablet and get the functionality of both.

These two pieces of research will be tested thoroughly over the next few months.

The Samsung Galaxy S III has now fully launched across five U.S. wireless network operators. It has a 4.8-inch screen. The new Motorola Atrix HD has a 4.5-inch display and is available from AT&T. The HTC One X has a 4.7-inch display, also available from AT&T. All of these devices are at or above the 4.5-inch benchmark set by Kelton and T-Mobile USA.

The big test of the validity of Kelton and ABI's research, however, will come later this fall when the iPhone 5 arrives. Based on all the rumors and speculation so far this year, the iPhone 5 will have a display measuring four inches at the most. In fact, some reports suggest the iPhone 5's display will actually measure 3.95 inches.

This begs the question, can an iPhone with a 4-inch display compete with today's 4.5-, 4.7-, 4.8-, and 5.3-inch smartphones?

Speaking personally, I won't buy any device that has a screen smaller than 4.3 inches. What about you?

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User Rank: Strategist
7/30/2012 | 6:20:39 PM
re: Smartphone Shoppers Prefer Larger Displays
Don108, everyone with half a brain knows their screen size, and anything less than 4.0 is too small now. Most everyone knows about Android, and many prefer that platform to iPhone. I prefer Android myself, or Windows 7.5. My next phone will have a larger screen 4.3 or larger. Not going to be an iPhone. Bye Bye Fanboi, you are a TOTAL crack of poo!
User Rank: Apprentice
7/26/2012 | 12:46:46 PM
re: Smartphone Shoppers Prefer Larger Displays
purchased a GSIII; fits perfectly in pants pockets and is not too big to speak on as a phone. really enjoy the real-estate for browsing the web and messaging.
User Rank: Apprentice
7/20/2012 | 1:58:06 PM
re: Smartphone Shoppers Prefer Larger Displays
Disagree. For a media consumption device, you need screen real estate. With Bluetooth, you won't look so much like an idiot using your device to make phone calls... unless you "want" to look like an idiot.

iPhone needs to quit looking in the mirror and start looking ahead. Competition is getting intense.
User Rank: Apprentice
7/18/2012 | 9:00:40 PM
re: Smartphone Shoppers Prefer Larger Displays
What a TOTAL crock of poo! People don't measure their screens. They don't know 4.2" vs. 4.3". There's only ONE valid measurement: which phone model do people like enough to actually buy? In fact, which one model of smartphone sells more than any other phone.

Hint one: It begins with the letter "i."
Hint two: T-Moble doesn't offer this phone, so of course they're going to claim people want to make phone calls on a phone so big it won't fit in a pocket or purse and you'll look like an idiot trying to talk with it.
User Rank: Apprentice
7/18/2012 | 8:00:03 PM
re: Smartphone Shoppers Prefer Larger Displays
I do NOT see a need for a mobile phone to have a screen larger than 3.5 inches. The device is designed for mobility and telephone service, so I want it to be compact and easy to carry. I usually carry it in my pants pocket. If I want to read anything that takes me longer than ten minutes, I can read it on a pad, computer, or on paper. The mobile phone is really not designed for true computing, reading, or browsing. It's not easy or convenient to write on it or to read anything other than short emails or articles. The small size of the 4 or 5+ inch phones and phablets will cause finger and hand cramps and pain when you type on it too much or too long, and it will cause eyestrain when you read on such a small display for too long. Yes, 5.3 inch is still too small for long-term reading and writing, yet, it is too big to fit comfortably or snugly in my pants pocket. So, how is someone going to comfortably and safely carry it? I guess you can carry it in a jacket or coat pocket, but then, you'll always need a jacket or coat; and that's not too practical. You can put it in a purse or bag, but that does not offer the fastest and easiest access. Therefore, if you need to do real reading and writing on a mobile device, then you might as well use a 7 or 10 inch tablet or laptop. Use the telephone for telephoning and keep it simple and small.
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