My iPhone 5s ran out of charge the other night, so I dusted off the old iPod touch (2g) that I still keep docked on my clock radio. Having used the 5s since last September, going back to the 3.5" screen made me realize one thing -- for one-handed operation, Jobs and the original iPhone team got it right. For normal operations and gestures, the screen size felt right.
As I've indicated before, the iPhone 5s already pushes the limits of easy pocketability and one-handed operation. I've already dropped my phone a few times while pulling it out of my pant pocket -- something that never happened when I carried the iPod touch. An even larger phone certainly would not help matters.
Personally, I want Apple to continue making their flagship phone available in the smaller form factor. Right now, Apple is the only manufacturer that still makes a top-of-the-line phone in the 4" size. While the larger screen size is nice to look at, the times I've tried using the larger Android phones, they feel awkward and clumsy. Samsung even acknowledges the issue with one-handed operation by including that bizarre "one handed mode" that truncates the screen edges.
For people arguing that more people prefer the larger screen sizes, I would counter that the market does not have a true apples-to-apples comparison available to support that argument. Apple does not make a large-screened flagship model, and Android brands do not make small-screened flagship models. What's the basis for drawing conclusions based on screen size alone?
We know that on the Android side, the best selling individual models are the jumbo sized flagship models. But, is that BECAUSE of the larger screen, or because the flagship models with the higher performance and better features are ONLY available with the larger screen? If a smaller screen was such a liability, then why does the iPhone continue to grow sales and dominate among the most desirable customers? Do iPhone buyers purchase the phone despite the small screen size, or do they view the smaller form factor as an attribute?
Even when Apple goes to the rumored 4.7" iPhone 6, this won't do anything to answer the screen size question if they deprecate the 4" screen size to the 5c/s series, since the phones will potentially include numerous other refinements like Liquidmetal shells, sapphire glass, and the normal litany of performance boosts. If Apple simultaneously includes these improvements with a smaller non-gimped 4" flagship model, then we will finally have a true test case to see how many people opt for the larger screen size when offered a real choice.