Why Apple needs to make a smaller iPhone

My tiny hands are sick of grasping at metal that's too big.

Feb 29, 2020, 8:02 pm*

Tech

 

Selena Larson

The world needs smaller smartphones. 

I have the iPhone 6, and it feels like a brick in my hand. It doesn’t fit comfortably in the pocket of my jeans, nor does it fit in the clutch I carry instead of a purse. When I go running, the iPhone 6 doesn’t sit comfortably in the palm of my hand the way my iPhone 5s did, and I drop it way more often. 

Apple unveiled its new crop of devices on Wednesday, including the iPad Pro, the new iPhone 6s, and iPhone 6s Plus. As the names suggest, the iDevices are big. Apple continues to follow the trend of making mobile devices that are more like tablets than smartphones, and tablets more like personal computers. Everything is getting bigger—the screen size, the resolutions, and all the tasks these mega-devices can handle. 

I knew it was a long shot, but I still hoped Apple would show off a device as small as the iPhone 5s. And I wasn’t the only one.

https://twitter.com/Annaleen/status/641682945804111872

Once upon a time, Apple’s devices were smaller than Android, and appealed to a universal audience, while the market for Android phones was much bigger among men than women. As my colleague Taylor Hatmaker wrote back in 2012, Apple owed much of its success to women, who favored the smaller, sleeker devices over the boxy Androids on the market. 

Now, Apple’s newest phones are just as large as Android competitors. Anything less than a 5-inch screen is considered “small,” these days—but when you compare them to the 4-inch iPhone 5 family, new smartphones are gigantic. And it’s not just tiny hands that want smaller phones. Pants pockets just aren’t big enough for iPhones, especially if you’re wearing skinny jeans. 

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The iPhone 5s is still available, and with Wednesday’s update, those smaller devices are free. But they aren’t getting any of the sweet updates or features newer iPhones come with, including 3D Touch, upgraded photo features, and a new A9 processors for improved performance. 

So those of us who want a smaller device must decide: How much does size matter?

Is it worth going bigger to get more features, or are we willing to forego better graphics and photos and 3D-touching to ensure our phones fit comfortably in our pockets and hands and wallets? 

If Apple wants to be truly disruptive and provide something people can’t live without, the company should release smaller versions of these devices with the same features the big flagship phones are now getting. Because while every other tech company seems to be embracing bigger, that doesn’t mean it’s better. 

Illustration by Max Fleishman

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*First Published: Sep 10, 2015, 10:00 am