In the early days of the mobile phone you weren’t worried about styling, screen size, data tariffs, or when the must-have app would finally arrive on your platform. No, life was simpler then. All the pioneer mobiler had on their mind was whether they could get through a five minute call without ending up in traction. You see the original phones where big….really big. You know those inflatable, joke ones you’ve seen wacky individuals sporting? Yeah, that big, but made out of lead with black hole linings. You could always tell those fortunate enough to live on the cutting edge of telecommunications as they invariably had one enormous arm, not unlike the genetic disaster that roamed the power plants at the end of Resident Evil.
Then, in the interests of public safety, manufacturers set about reducing the burden that phones put upon their customers and finally normality was restored. Over time we were treated to diminutive models such as the Motorola Razor, and those teeny tiny Nokia ones that were impossible to dial due to the buttons being only an atom wide. Surely it was only a matter of time until they were so small they’d be built into our watches and we could live out our Dick Tracy fantasies?
Recently a strange reversal has begun to take place. The Apple iPhone bares upon its delicate chassis a 3.5″ screen. It’s compact, neat, and looks like a phone, albeit a slabbish one. Over in the Android camp though we have seen the emergence of colossus’ such as the dangerously named Titan, Nexus, Galaxy S2 (ok that’s not so dangerous, just a bit dull), and the One X (come on, it sounds like something Wolverine would use!), with screens that technically qualify as surfboards. What’s going on? Have we not learned our lessons from the past? Due we want a nation of uni-armsters once more?
Ok, I’ll admit, it’s a bit different this time around. This new breed of phone isn’t built from recently collapsed stars, instead their waif-like frames are composed of baby sighs and fairy wishes. They positively lift you up as you use them then return you gently to the ground as you make your goodbyes. The girth isn’t simply a casket for an enormous battery either. Nowadays the size is there to accommodate gorgeous displays which act as portals to the internet with all its video laden riches. We read books upon the devices, record our adventures in stunning HD, and store more CDs than still seems feasible. Some of them even make telephone calls. It’s astounding!
So why is it then that I still find it odd that the size is on the increase? We’ve seen tablets of various sizes emerge that would seem more suited to the purposes of viewing. Even laptops are becoming lighter and slimmer. Why do we need our phones to meet them? Is it the convenience? I’m not so sure, even with the larger models on offer I’m not convinced I’d ever want to watch a movie on one, whereas on my iPad it’s a very pleasant experience. Is it for photography? Maybe, but the results are not dependent on the screen size, and we pretty much always download pictures to a PC if we want to keep them. Is it a male need to compensate for some other deficiency? Of course, but that goes for any kind of technology. We’re just big kids after all.
In the end I’m left wondering whether it’s just because we’ve done small and now need to go somewhere else? But I’m all up for being convinced otherwise. Maybe I’m just stuck in the past and need to embrace the cult of the big. Please, teach me your ways…
What do you think is the ideal size for a phone? And how big is too big?