Samsung, Google to scale back giant screen sizes on new Android phones

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
While Apple has been the subject of incessant queries wondering when it will follow Samsung and Google's Motorola subsidiary in making a big screen iPhone, both Android licensees are now planning new phones with screens closer in size to iPhone 5.

Android scales back the big

Samsung is releasing two "mini" 4.3 inch variants of its flagship Galaxy S4, reports BGR, one called the G4 Zoom with a 16MP camera, and another which launched today as the G4 mini.

While both new devices will have a screen much closer in size to Apple's 4 inch iPhone 5 released last year, they will be equipped with a "qHD" resolution of 960-by-540 pixels, considerably less than the 5's Retina Display at 1136-by-640 pixels, and even slightly less than the 960-by-640 pixel iPhone 4 released in 2010.

Last October, Samsung similarly launched a mini version of its S3 (depicted below), equipped with a 4 inch screen but an even lower resolution of 800x480 and a camera limited to 5MP captures. The product was unveiled under the headline "how big small can be."


Galaxy


Galaxy S3 Mini mockup next to full-sized model via Mobile Geeks.


Google's influence at Motorola is also resulting in a shift from "bigger is better" to simply "better is better," according to a report by Sascha Segan of PC Mag.

"We've been spending the past eight months on this next generation of phones, and we've all seen positive feedback and collaboration around things," the report cited Motorola's design chief Jim Wicks as saying.

He added, "Certain people like a large screen. But there's a sweet spot for consumers that we're currently exceeding in the market. There are some people that like a big display, but there's also a lot of people that want something that's just about right. I think 'just right' is important, and we're designing so we don't disappoint those people."

Segan described the news of smaller phones from Motorola as "music to my ears" and stated that Motorola is "the only Android phone maker I've spoken to recently that's willing to push back against the current trend of larger and larger phones."

When bigger isn't better, but smaller is even worse

Writing for Gigaom, Kevin C. Tofel similarly asked "one has to wonder how big 'too big' is. At this rate, could Android smartphones outgrow their user base as one-handed phone use disappears?"

Rather than just discussing screen size trends, Taylor Martin of the PhoneDog blog noted that among Android licensees, smaller screen size offerings are tied to lower end phones.

"What's so hard about making smaller high-end phones?" he asked, noting that Apple's iPhone 5 is "the only high-end smartphone smaller than 4.3-inches."iPhone 5 is "the only high-end smartphone smaller than 4.3-inches."

Addressing Samsung's Galaxy S3 mini offering released after iPhone 5, Martin stated that "the only resemblance the Galaxy S III mini has to its larger sibling is the name and outward design. Specifications are far from the original, making many scratch their heads as to why this device is even considered a miniature version of the S III, or why it has the 'S' branding to begin with."

He added, "if you want an Android device smaller than 4.3-inches, although whatever device you choose will undoubtedly be easier on your wallet, you're looking to take a serious hit in performance, capabilities and quality."

Apple says it's paid to know best

Prodded to reveal his company's product plans for larger screens in the Android mold, Apple's chief executive Tim Cook answered that "a large screen today comes with a lot of tradeoffs.


Tim Cook


Apple CEO Tim Cook interviewed at D11. | Source: AllThingsD


"Customers are clearly looking at the size," he said, "but they also look at things like 'do the photos show the proper color?' The white balance, the reflectivity, battery life, the longevity of the display."

Cook then stated that Apple's customers want the company to study those factors and make well considered decisions as to what is "best." So far, this has resulted in just one change to the iPhone's screen size across six years.

Rather than just steadily increasing the screen sizes of its mobile devices (as Apple has done for more than three decades of desktop computers and notebooks, and across a range of flagship iPods sold over the past decade) the company has held onto offering just a very limited number of form factors for its iOS devices.

This is not because the company does not know how to make larger devices.

Apple's first handheld device, the Newton MessagePad, originally sported a 5.2 inch screen when it debuted nearly twenty years ago in late 1993. Subsequent models got smaller screens measuring 4.5 inches, with a final batch sporting 6.1 inch displays before the PDA line was canceled by Steve Jobs in 1998.

If Apple wanted to make 6 inch devices, it wouldn't need to look to Samsung for ideas on how to do this. It could look back into its own rather ancient history of mini-tablets that ultimately didn't sell well.

It's also noteworthy that, when Samsung tried to make a Tablet PC ten years later in partnership with Microsoft, the results were so poor that when CNET pitted the 2006 Samsung Q1 against a 1997 Apple Newton MessagePad 2000, it awarded the decade old Newton as the overall winner.

Newton timeline


Nine years after canceling the MessagePad, Apple returned to full screen handheld devices with the 3.5 inch iPhone and iPod touch. It then released a 9.7 inch iPad in 2010. Over the last year, Apple introduced its 4 inch iPhone 5 (and matching iPod touch) and a new 7.9 inch iPad mini.

iOS devices

Apple thinks about apps

The new iOS devices were designed to work seamlessly with existing iOS apps, with little or no developer modifications needed to avoid stretching or scaling images or content on the screen.

Apple's tight integration between its hardware releases and its apps ecosystem is markedly different than the offerings of Android hardware licensees like Samsung, which now offers a bewildering range of smartphone, phablet and tablet sizes and resolutions, none of which are really optimized to run either mobile or tablet apps.



This results in poor utilization of the extra screen size when running apps on Android tablets and very large smartphones, as Apple's head of product marketing Phil Schiller drew attention to at the release of iPad mini last fall.

Schiller noted a "night and day" difference between tablet-optimized iPad apps and the stretched smartphone apps that work on Android tablets (above, TripAdvisor on both).
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 144
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,752member
    While Apple has been the subject of incessant queries wondering when it will follow Samsung and Google's Motorola subsidiary in making a big screen iPhone, both Android licensees are now planning new phones with screens closer in size to iPhone 5.p=24360">G4 mini</a>. .

    Why does AI's side-by-side "S3/S3 Mini size comparison" look so different from the image they copied from MobileGeeks? Someone at AI did a bit of purposeful alteration perhaps? Some strange re-sizing accidentally took place on just half the image when it was imported?

    http://mobilegeeks.de/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Galaxy-S3-Mini-vs-Galaxy-S3.jpg

    EDIT: After a bit of research on old AI articles I remember this came up last year and the same point was made then: Daniel didn't use the available MG image at the time but instead clipped an incorrect version what might have been up for a day or two. He didn't bother to correct it last year when he was made aware and didn't care to do so this year either. . . yet. No doubt he'll do so now, right?

    EDIT 2: 24 hours later and the same misleading incorrect image still in place. Daniels' probably just been busy tho. He'll fix it. . . soon.

    EDIT 3: Aha! The right image is finally posted.
  • Reply 2 of 144
    chandra69chandra69 Posts: 638member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    Why does AI's side-by-side "S3/S3 Mini size comparison" look so different from the image they copied from MobileGeeks? Someone at AI did a bit of purposeful alteration perhaps? Some strange re-sizing accidentally took place on just half the image when it was imported?



    http://mobilegeeks.de/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Galaxy-S3-Mini-vs-Galaxy-S3.jpg


    Nice catch! :)


     


    Pls read the edited comment of Gatorguy.

  • Reply 3 of 144
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,752member
    chandra69 wrote: »
    Nice catch! :)

    Since honesty and integrity are demonstratively important to Daniel Eran Dilger he'll no doubt get rid of that incorrect comparison and insert the more accurate and current one from Mobile Geeks. I can't imagine he'd leave a flawed one up after being made aware of it. :\
  • Reply 4 of 144
    cpr1cpr1 Posts: 41member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    Why does AI's side-by-side "S3/S3 Mini size comparison" look so different from the image they copied from MobileGeeks? Someone at AI did a bit of purposeful alteration perhaps? Some strange re-sizing accidentally took place on just half the image when it was imported?



    http://mobilegeeks.de/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Galaxy-S3-Mini-vs-Galaxy-S3.jpg


    The alteration appears to have occurred on the MobileGeeks site as the watermarks don't match.  Pay attention if you're going to make accusations.

  • Reply 5 of 144
    cpr1cpr1 Posts: 41member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    Since honesty and integrity are demonstratively important to Daniel Eran Dilger he'll no doubt get rid of that "accidently altered" comparison and insert the real one from Mobile Geeks. I can't imagine he'd leave a fake one up after being made aware of it. image


    Again, pay attention.  The Mobile Geeks version is altered.  And it's a Mobile Geeks watermark -- they altered their own photo?

  • Reply 6 of 144
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,752member
    cpr1 wrote: »
    Again, pay attention.  The Mobile Geeks version is altered.

    You mean they altered their own mockup to fix their mistake last October when they were made aware of it? It's not a picture of the actual phone, but just what they thought it would look side-by-side with the S3 once it was released? Who'd a thunk that! The current image at Mobile Geeks is the correct one. The AI version that DED would prefer to stick with is not, and certainly not the one you get when you click the link under the AI image.

    http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/153273/lightbox/post/2209027/id/14262
  • Reply 7 of 144
    larryalarrya Posts: 548member
    Before we declare this a victory for the 4" screen, can we agree that it is wise to cover both segments of the market? I am hoping my switch to this POS Android OS is only temporary!
  • Reply 8 of 144
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    Look at those beautiful Android icons on the home screens.

    They just ooze style, class, and refinement.
  • Reply 9 of 144
    cpr1cpr1 Posts: 41member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    You mean they altered their own mockup to fix their mistake last October when they were made aware of it? It's not a picture of the actual phone, but just what they thought it would look side-by-side with the S3 once it was released? Who'd a thunk that! The current image at Mobile Geeks is the correct one. The AI version that DED would prefer to stick with is not, and certainly not the one you get when you click the link under the AI image.



    http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/153273/lightbox/post/2209027/id/14262


    You are correct -- it is a mockup and not the actual phone.  But your accusation was that they physically altered the MG photo when, in fact, they did not.  What they have chosen to do is use the original, incorrect, comparison by MG and, yes, that's disingenuous at best.

  • Reply 10 of 144
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,752member
    edit
  • Reply 11 of 144
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member


    Dilger's twisted logic amazes again.


     


    Samsung introduces a new model, which has a smaller screen than the S3 and Motorola mentions a new model that will have a smaller screen than the S3, and this is twisted to imply that both manufacturers have decided larger screened phones are a mistake and that they have abandoned them.  Then by mentioning Cook's defense of not having a larger screened model, we arrive at the right-thinking conclusion that the iP5 is perfect for everyone.


     


    Thing is, Samsung, which is the only Android phone manufacturer that matters, hasn't abandoned larger screens, nor do they think they were a mistake, nor do the considerable sales of the S3 and Notes indicate that consumers think any such thing.


     


    I suspect that the real reason Motorola and Apple aren't currently making larger screened models is the difficulty in sourcing adequate supplies of large displays with very fine dot pitch.


     


    The only real logic that will determine if larger screened phones are a mistake or not is 'ka-ching' logic, not Dilger logic. 

  • Reply 12 of 144
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,580member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    You mean they altered their own mockup to fix their mistake last October when they were made aware of it? It's not a picture of the actual phone, but just what they thought it would look side-by-side with the S3 once it was released? Who'd a thunk that! The current image at Mobile Geeks is the correct one. The AI version that DED would prefer to stick with is not, and certainly not the one you get when you click the link under the AI image.



    http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/153273/lightbox/post/2209027/id/14262


     


    This is getting a little ridiculous when GG is calling people out on whether they are being honest or not. Of course, he's had to retract his first accusations and is now hunkered down in speculation regarding the inner workings of DED's mind, his hopes, wants and desires. I don't know, it seems pretty close to those personal attacks he deprecates in the signature he uses as a sort of permanent personal attack on jragosta. Well, there's always been one kind of thinking that GG was eager to embrace, and that's hypocrisy.


     


    I suggest that?? TS change GG's little label to "Fornicador de Verdade".

  • Reply 13 of 144
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,752member
    cpr1 wrote: »
    You are correct -- it is a mockup and not the actual phone.  But your accusation was that they physically altered the MG photo when, in fact, they did not.  What they have chosen to do is use the original, incorrect, comparison by MG and, yes, that's disingenuous at best.

    Yes I went back and edited my first response after figuring out what DED was doing. He obviously wasn't showing the image that his link under the pic said he was. Clicking it proves that. Perhaps he didn't realize he was using his own favored image, one that hasn't been available at MG since last fall (and that can't be linked since it doesn't exist), and promptly corrected by Mobile Geeks as soon as they were made aware of their error.

    If DED wasn't aware back then he was using a flawed size comparison image he was certainly made aware since. Maybe "Corrections" can bring it to his attention again as I'm sure he wouldn't want to leave an obvious mistake in place.
  • Reply 14 of 144
    pedromartinspedromartins Posts: 1,333member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post


    Dilger's twisted logic amazes again.


     


    Samsung introduces a new model, which has a smaller screen than the S3 and Motorola mentions a new model that will have a smaller screen than the S3, and this is twisted to imply that both manufacturers have decided larger screened phones are a mistake and that they have abandoned them.  Then by mentioning Cook's defense of not having a larger screened model, we arrive at the right-thinking conclusion that the iP5 is perfect for everyone.


     


    Thing is, Samsung, which is the only Android phone manufacturer that matters, hasn't abandoned larger screens, nor do they think they were a mistake, nor do the considerable sales of the S3 and Notes indicate that consumers think any such thing.


     


    I suspect that the real reason Motorola and Apple aren't currently making larger screened models is the difficulty in sourcing adequate supplies of large displays with very fine dot pitch.


     


    The only real logic that will determine if larger screened phones are a mistake or not is 'ka-ching' logic, not Dilger logic. 



    The real reason Samsung doesn't have an high end device with smaller screen is related with their lack of talent and capability to produce that sort of offering, otherwise, they would do it. Samsung has no values, no principles and produce or copy everything and then see what sticks.


     


    On the other hand, Apple already explained their reasons. There's not a true high quality device out there with a big screen, besides the HTC one (maybe), and HTC can't produce them to save themselves. All others have huge tradeoffs. The less tradeoffs, the less they sell... Funny.

  • Reply 14 of 144
    One's high end phone is another persons piece of tat.

    Am sure the public will just buy the size that suits them.
  • Reply 16 of 144
    3eleven3eleven Posts: 87member


    But specs dont matter! lol.


    I'm confused by this article. Android had always had a variety of screen sizes to choose from, they still do. My coworker has a Razr M which is smaller android phone. I agree though that some companies (Samsung, LG) are taking sizes to whole new ridiculous levels.

  • Reply 17 of 144
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,580member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by pedromartins View Post


    The real reason Samsung doesn't have an high end device with smaller screen is related with their lack of talent and capability to produce that sort of offering, otherwise, they would do it. Samsung has no values, no principles and produce or copy everything and then see what sticks.


     


    On the other hand, Apple already explained their reasons. There's not a true high quality device out there with a big screen, besides the HTC one (maybe), and HTC can't produce them to save themselves. All others have huge tradeoffs. The less tradeoffs, the less they sell... Funny.



     


    Android phones went to big screens to camouflage big batteries. It also, as you point out, allows them to avoid the engineering effort to reduce the space required for other components. Lazy engineering all around, including poor power management. Let's not pretend it had anything to do with "offering what consumers wanted".

  • Reply 18 of 144
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,752member
    3eleven wrote: »
    But specs dont matter! lol.
    I'm confused by this article. Android had always had a variety of screen sizes to choose from, they still do. My coworker has a Razr M which is smaller android phone. I agree though that some companies (Samsung, LG) are taking sizes to whole new ridiculous levels.

    In the case of Samsung even their S4 Mini still has a larger screen than the iPhone 5. Perhaps Mini is in the eye of the beholder.
  • Reply 19 of 144
    pedromartinspedromartins Posts: 1,333member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post




    Quote:

    Originally Posted by 3Eleven View Post



    But specs dont matter! lol.

    I'm confused by this article. Android had always had a variety of screen sizes to choose from, they still do. My coworker has a Razr M which is smaller android phone. I agree though that some companies (Samsung, LG) are taking sizes to whole new ridiculous levels.




    In the case of Samsung even their S4 Mini still has a larger screen than the iPhone 5. Perhaps Mini is in the eye of the beholder.


    Yes, a screen that is bitch slapped on every way by the iPhone 4. That says everything that needs to be said.

  • Reply 20 of 144
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,223member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    cpr1 wrote: »
    You are correct -- it is a mockup and not the actual phone.  But your accusation was that they physically altered the MG photo when, in fact, they did not.  What they have chosen to do is use the original, incorrect, comparison by MG and, yes, that's disingenuous at best.

    Yes I went back and edited my first response after figuring out what DED was doing. He obviously wasn't showing the image that his link under the pic said he was. Clicking it proves that. Perhaps he didn't realize he was using his own favored image, one that hasn't been available at MG since last fall (and that can't be linked since it doesn't exist), and promptly corrected by Mobile Geeks as soon as they were made aware of their error.

    If DED wasn't aware back then he was using a flawed size comparison image he was certainly made aware since. Maybe "Corrections" can bring it to his attention again as I'm sure he wouldn't want to leave an obvious mistake in place.

    Move along.....
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