It’s Time For A Larger iPhone

The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that Apple is currently ordering larger screens for the next iPhone. With the usual nonsense, the WSJ cited people familiar with the matter and stated these screens measure at least 4-inches diagonally. Production is set to begin next month, they say.

The Journal better be right, though. A 3.5-inch screen is just too small now. At this point to say anything to the contrary is pure fanboi nonsense. The standard argument that consumers don’t want a large phone is tired and overused. Besides, it’s effectively proven wrong by the 20 million Galaxy S II phones sold by Samsung last year. It’s time for a larger iPhone.

When Apple debuted the iPhone in 2007 it was a revolutionary device. With a novel interface running on a beautiful 3.5-inch screen, the iPhone rocked the mobile scene. But now, over five years later, the iPhone has changed very little. This is a good thing for the most part. Keep with what works. However, the mobile world has since caught up to the iPhone and started moving forward with risky (read: larger) form factors while Apple kept with the tried and true. This is Apple’s Standard Operating Procedure.

Apple is notorious for keeping products on the market for as long as they’re financially viable. The company’s computers often only get spec bumps twice a year while other makers push the latest hardware every quarter. The Mac Mini once went a full year without an update. But Apple can do this. Consumers often buy Apple products ignoring specs, thus allowing the company to see larger margins on aging devices. Eventually moves need to be made, though.

The iPhone is still the dominant smartphone on the market. Apple could likely keep selling the iPhone 4S at $200 for the next year and still see iOS’s marketshare increase. Consumers want the iPhone that bad. But it’s starting to show its age and consumers are noticing.

There is a new report published nearly every other day proclaiming iOS or Android as the dominant platform. But it doesn’t really matter at this point. Both are winning and Android is doing so with large, attention-grabbing screens that consumers clearly want. Of course Apple will always have its base of loyal fanboys no matter what, but the average consumer is swayed by trend — including the trend of large screens.

The next iPhone will have a 4-inch screen per the common rumor circulating ’round the Internet. This excites me greatly. My daily driver is a Droid X, which also has 4-inch screen. After playing with nearly every new phone, I still find its 4-inch 16:9 screen the sweet spot between the usability of a small screen and the additional real estate associated with a large screen. Of course there are numerous arguments against Apple employing a larger screen, but a user on The Verge’s forum’s elegantly explained how it could be done. In short, by using a 3.99-inch 9:5 screen, iOS would scale nearly perfectly and add an additional row for icons on the homescreen. It would then be up to Apple’s all-star marketing team to convince the world it’s a 4-inch screen rather than 3.99.

There are no doubt blind Apple zealots absolutely appalled at the thought of a larger iPhone. Ignore ’em. Change is inevitable. In response to MG’s take on the Evo 4G back in 2010, I wrote “Saying that the EVO 4G’s screen is too big is like saying, “No thanks, I would rather ride in the back of a cab than in your limo. I like feeling cramped and restricted.”” (We both were right about the phone’s horrible battery life, though) That still holds true today. A large screen, if done right, is an amazing feature and one Apple will likely employ in the future.

Again, to fulfill its goal of purely making money, Apple does not need to change anything about the iPhone. The iPhone 4S sold like gangbusters on the back of just a trivial spec bump and worthless Siri. However, the iPhone 4 form factor is no longer the single most attractive phone on the market. Other mobile phone companies have caught up with Apple. That can’t sit well with The House Jobs Built. Apple needs to regain its street cred and silence the haters, if only for a moment.

Sometime later this year Apple will introduce the next generation of the iPhone. As proven by previous iPhone rumors, it’s hard to tell what’s on tap. It might have a larger screen and, quite honestly, it might not. The WSJ’s report could be wrong. That said, there will come a time that Apple rolls out a large screen for the iPhone. Hopefully it’s sooner rather than later.