Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Growing Girth of Smartphones

DSC00157For the last many years, I keep thinking that smartphones have reached their practical size limits. Each year, phone manufacturers will release yet another bigger sized smartphone. Then, most of us will come to terms with the new size. Some of us, or maybe most of us, will actually like the new size, and it becomes the new norm. Rinse, repeat.

I had a Nokia N95 8GB with a 2.6″ screen. The Nexus One’s 3.7″ screen was considered large at that time. Not overwhelming. At that time, I thought 4″ would be the practical limit. I was quite convinced 4″ is it.

Then, my next phone was the Samsung Galaxy S II. It had a 4.3″ screen. I thought it was too big then, but still bought it because there were many other good things about the phone. Eventually, 4.3″ was okay, and that became the new maximum.

My next phone, the HTC One X, was not surprisingly even bigger, sporting a 4.7″ screen. Of course, screen size and actual phone size are not the same thing, but they are highly correlated, at least from the era where smartphones started adorn most of the entire surface with the display.

As you know, there are rumours of 5″ displays coming out, and then there’re the phablets with greater than 5″ displays (soon even greater than 6″).

2011 was about 4.3″ displays. 2012 is about 4.8″ displays. 2013 will be displays over 5″. What happens in 2014?

Surely it has to stop somewhere?

Or something needs to change radically. Yes, we’ve heard of Samsung’s flexible display screens. Flexible displays doesn’t necessarily mean flexible phones. After all, it is not like you could bend batteries and printed circuit boards. Not yet, anyway.

Oh wait, circuits can be printed on fabric, so we could have flexible printed circuit boards. I’m not so sure about the actual chips though. Like, say, the CPU of the phone. So maybe it is possible to have a phone body that is bendable in some sections. That could be the way, for example, to fit a 6″ display into the back pocket of your jeans, without breaking the phone.

Some sort of radical change has to happen. Like how we went from dumb phones to smartphones, the smartphone as we know it now has to change.

It’s funny. At one time, smaller was better. Now, bigger is everything.

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