Smart (phone) doesn’t mean big

In less than three years, smartphones evolved from being fat, ugly devices to sleek, powerful and addictive devices. Every now and then, mobile phone manufacturers boasts of a new device with revolutionary hardware and feature-set. This year’s CES gave us a glimpse of where smartphones are heading. After looking at the specs and devices, I wanted to say ‘STOP RIGHT THERE’.

Why so big: Manufacturers around the world are showing off with price these new mobile phones with huge 4.5″+ displays, which obviously are not so mobile. Imagine putting them in slim fit jeans pocket and taking them out while you are sitting (you would literally do a lap dance trying to get it out). 3.2″ is great, 3.5″ is perfect, 4″ is stunning but not for everyone. But 4.5″, 5″? These cannot be termed as mobile phones. Not everyone in the world has gigantic palm/fingers and not every one of these is fond of carrying a brick. These phones look good from a distance but usability takes a nosedive when used as regular day-in day-out mobile phone. I felt that 3.5″ is a perfect size for a mobile phone display (3.7″ at the max). Fits well in hand, is just the right size for browsing, reading and movies and is not as power hungry as 4.3″+ display (even with LED-backlit and other power saving features). HTC EVO 4G is he best example here. Thanks to bloated features (4G, 4.3″ power sucking display, unoptimized GUI), this phone weighed 170gms and the battery was 1500mAh. Any bigger battery would mean that the phone’s weight will make it unusable. IMO, one flagship device with 4″+ display is more than enough for a manufacturer and rest should be in 3.2″ to 3.7″ range.

Weird Display Technologies: It all started with the term “Retina Display” which was just another IPS panel with extremely high resolution and now every other manufacturer have a weird name for the display panel that they (re)invented. CBD (Nokia), S-AMOLED+ (Samsung), NOVA(LG), Reality display(SE, most funny of all), retina display (Apple). Seriously? Am now expecting MicroMax to come out with panel “Maximum Display Panel(MDP)”Are the end users that stupid that they don’t understand what LED back-lit is and what high resolution means? CBD, AMOLED, NOVA, reality display are all LED back-lit displays with better sunlight visibility than conventional LED back-lit display and yes we know that. Why to put a name for every single LED panel that you are using. This started to feel like the weird names used for Tooth Brush and Detergent to denote formula (germicheck, activesalt etc). And we all know that this is all marketing gimmick and that they all are same. Please stop this messing with Panels and keep it straightforward and simple (AMOLED, TFT-LCD, IPS ETC)

What about battery: Remember the time when our smart-phones/feature-phones used to give two to three day battery life? 3G, 4G, 802.11n, giant panels, DLNA, HDMI, large sensor camera with Xenon, Adobe Flash, Active Widgets, gaming. These are few things that suck up the battery. Manufacturers boast with pride about these features and they work hard (really hard) around the clock to put more and more new features. At the same time, they try to make the phone as thin and light as possible. Sub 10mm thickness and sub 120gms weight is becoming an obsession among manufactures lately. As a result, they often ignore the importance of battery. While EVO users had nightmarish experiences with battery, iPhone 4 users on the other hand enjoy far superior battery life thanks to balanced hardware and well optimized GUI. As a result, even though EVO 4G is more advanced phone, people are picking iPhone 4G, the sole reason being battery life. Remember E71? Here is a quote from gsmarena:

In reality you can make it through three days of some really heavy usage. We used it for about two and a half hours of GPS navigation, two hours of web browsing over Wi-Fi, an hour of calls and about two hours of other phone features before it eventually went dead, about 80 hours after a full charge. Not bad, aye? If you tend to use it less, your Nokia E71 may as well last nearly a week.

This phone uses a 1500mAh Li-Po which is superior to conventional Li-Ion 1500mAh battery and also safer and lighter. Compare that to the mediocre 1230mAh Li-Ion battery for HTC’s latest device Inspire 4G (which has hardware similar to EVO 4G). How can one expect the battery to last more than a day. What is the use of having a smart-phone when you need to live in a fear of draining the battery while in the middle of an important task.

I like innovation in mobile devices and I want to see these devices getting better at what they do. But at the same time, I want my device to have a balanced setup, I want my phone to stay on for more than a day (two days of battery life on medium to high usage would be perfect). I urge the manufacturers (especially HTC) to please stop competing on panel size, marketing names and deliver smart phones that are smart in all areas. What do you think about on these develoments? Does size matter to you or do you like the biggest of all?

gsmarena quote source:


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9 thoughts on “Smart (phone) doesn’t mean big

    • yes. developments are happening in few areas and “fuel cell” is one well known technology. But the current problem is manufacturers not providing enough battery juice when they can (for aesthetics). A 1500mAh battery is bare necessity but few smarphones come with 1200 and 1250mAh.

  1. Now that’s a great post friend. While I agree with your insistence on longer battery life across every brand, I wont agree, to some extent, on the display size part. Sorry for being straight. The display is a matter of preference at the end of the day, unlike the battery life. For example. bookworms would like to have a larger display for obvious reasons. Similarly, game-o-maiacs will surely love a bigger screen. Portability wise, bigger screen gadgets suck but the value and entertainment it provides does eclipse that inconvenience. I would say, displays coming in various sizes only makes choice easier for potential buyers.

    Loved your post for the information it provided. You seem to keep track of all latest updates. Will follow your blog from here on.

    • Thank you. yes. Having a big display is good. Am not saying that manufacturers should not go beyond 3.5″. One (at the max two) flagship device per brand with big screen should be good for enthusiasts who want the best of everything. But manufactuers are now trying push 4″+ as mainstream highend smartphones. CES 2011 is best example. All the powerful devices have 4″+ display. What I want to see is more innovation going into devices with 3.5″ display (kind of like how Apple does). Give us few phones with stunning battery life, 3.5″ display, superior multimedia capabilities. In short, a perfect device with as few bugs as possible that can excel in everything. Even yesteryear’s flagship phones like SGS, Desire have few issues (be it GPS and lag on SGS or weak display and multimedia of Desire).

  2. Convergence and competition is the reason for this madness. If you want gaming, why not buy a gaming device? If you want to watch a movie, why not get a PMP? When you try and put many functionality in one device, the manufactures have to go for bigger screens.

    In CES for example, if all manufactures come with 4″+ screens, if one of them sticks to small screen he would be the matter of least interest. That’s how the trend is right now.

    When you get into the market and say, i have got the best LCD backlit screen with the best clarity, it would be a relative term. Hence they are pushed to add names to it to make them sound unique.

    But all said and done, at the end of day, its the consumers like us who have to suffer after buying these battery hogging huge devices.

    • yes. convergence is good but how big? I have tried a 4.3″ HD2 and while it’s good to watch a movie or check pictures, it can be really uncomfortable on long use. But still it is okay. But 4.5″ and 5″? These usually suit well for those who have long fingers (for whom phones with 3.2″ will be uncomfortable) but how many of these prefer such huge phones is my question.

      • attending to necessity is not modern marketing… creating a need and illusion of superiority has been the mantra of modern day marketing…

  3. Great post there. I agree with Victor above about the large screens. I’ve been living in constant terror of retina detachment as a result of prolonged focusing on pygmy screens. Only now they have crossed the threshold level of 4.0″ in display panels. I’m also bothered about the battery though and wish faster improvements.

    • yes. I never look back at those 2″ and 2.4″ devices anymore. Even a 3.2″ felt just just a bit smaller and 3.5″ was perfect. It was neither big nor small. And like Giri and Victor said, convergence is a good thing. My question to you all is, will you move to a 4.5″ or 5″ display if you get 24hr battery life atleast? Will you be comfortable using it all the time?

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