What’s the one most visible feature of today’s smart phones that sets the competition apart from Apple’s hot selling, highly acclaimed iPhone 5? We can argue that it’s price, or applications, or battery life all day. In the end, the single most visible differentiator between the iPhone and everything else is screen size. Why? It’s marketing. And battery life. And price.
The Perfect Screen Size
After using each of Apple’s iPhones since the roll out in 2007, and, having used and compared as many Android, Nokia, and other also-ran iPhone competitors, I can say the iPhone 5’s screen is perfect.
The problem is this. Perfection, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. The iPhone 5’s size and screen size make it an easy fit in a pocket.
Not so the Samsung Galaxy Note II. It’s a behemoth. Even Samsung’s television commercials show actors using a stylus to navigate the giant screen.
What sets the iPhone 5’s screen apart is that it retains Retina display quality (any screen with a denser pixel count doesn’t matter because you can’t see the differences).
And, it still fits in one average sized human’s hands– and the opposable thumb can still move from the bottom of the screen to the top corner.
Try that on a Galaxy Note or any screen that approaches the 5-inch physical barrier. Why are most of Apple’s competitors so intent on having a smart phone that has a much bigger screen than the iPhone?
Marketing. The key to marketing is differentiation. If the iPhone’s original screen was 4.5-inches, competitors would have opted for 5-inch screens (bigger is better). You get the idea.
Plus, a larger screen means a larger phone in a larger case. That screen size demands more power, and, conveniently, the larger phones have more space for a larger battery, which it desperately requires to remain competitive with the iPhone’s long lasting battery.
People don’t comparison shop as well as we tech pundits may give them credit. Side-by-side, most customers may not notice much difference in the iPhone’s screen– other than it is smaller than the competition.
That brings up a good question. Does Apple need a ‘tweener device? A larger iPhone to fit between the iPhone 5’s 4-inch screen and the iPad mini’s 7.9-inch screen. Yes. Apple needs to broaden the iPhone line in two directions. Slightly less expensive than the iPhone’s gargantuan price (comparatively speaking). And, larger to handle the growing trend of bigger is better.
What? Isn’t that crazy? Yet another screen size? No. Apple can maintain the same resolution in a larger device by doing what they did with the iPad mini– same number of pixels in a smaller display, but in reverse, a Retina-like display in the larger phone with the same resolution (number of pixels) spread out in a slightly larger iPhone display.
In fact, screen resolution and device size may be key differentiators in future Apple products. I expect the iPad mini to drop in price to $299 while the company debuts a $379 Retina display iPad mini. Both will sell by the many millions, just as a larger iPhone with a larger screen (and, a battery that lasts longer) will sell.
The only drawback I see is positioning. Apple carefully positioned the original iPad as a device that fit comfortably between the iPhone and the MacBook Air. It’s such a usable device that many Mac and iPhone users also bought an iPad. That may not be the case when Apple expands the iPhone line. Who needs two iPhones?
It’s a bit outdated but CNET UK did a good comparison of the iPhone 5, vs Galaxy SIII vs HTC One X cameras. Guess which phone won?