Smartphones: Size Matters, but Not the Most

With another “well duh” headline, Cult of Mac told us yesterday, Survey Finds Battery Life Is Most Important for iPhone Owners. Didn’t the fact that we use 3.5″ and 4″ smartphones while the Android world has gone bigger kind of make that obvious?

iPhone 5SSerious, Cult, if size was the top priority, these people would be Android users, not iPhone users. Simple as that.

In fact, IDC’s survey finds that battery life is the top priority among users regardless of operating systems: 56% of Android, 49% of iPhone, and 53% of Windows Phone users say that.

Things change one we get to the second spot. Among Android owners, screen size and operating system are tied at 37%. For Windows Phone users, a very small cohort, the fact that they have a Windows operating system is their second most important factor. iPhone users give ease of use the second spot.

IDC smartphone surveyOf the ten categories in the survey, screen size ties with browsing speed for 7th place, ahead of weight/size and camera resolution.

In a “say what?” moment, IDC actually surveyed smartphone users about the importance of a touch screen. Seriously. As though all of these smartphones don’t require them to function. Sort of like asking car owners if tires and a steering wheel are important.

Let’s Get Real

Most people praise the iPhone’s battery life when compared with the competition. Most praise its ease of use, which really can’t be separated from the operating system – although IDC does.

original Apple iPhoneScreen size is an issue. Yes, the iPhone is very compact, and it’s possible to control an iPhone using the thumb of the hand holding it. (Apparently this was a significant factor for Steve Jobs.) That said, 3.5″ and 4″ may not be the size that iPhone users really want – it’s just the only sizes Apple offers.

Rumor has it the iPhone 6 will be 20% larger with a 4.7″ display, and my aging eyes couldn’t be happier. Of course, going to a larger screen kind of says, “Steve Jobs got it wrong.” And maybe he did. Then again, size was a big factor in the smartphone market when the iPhone first launched in 2007.

With the iPad, Apple discovered there was a strong pent up demand for a 20% smaller model, and the iPad mini has been a success since the day it launched. Maybe with the iPhone 6 Apple will discover a pent up demand for a 20% larger iPhone – and lose a few less sales to the Android world of mostly oversized smartphones.

Until an iPhone with bigger pixels becomes the less expensive or least expensive one in Apple’s line, I’ll be sticking with my iPhone 4S. The screen is a bit small, but everything else about the iPhone is so nice that I can’t imagine abandoning it for Android.

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