Do you remember when “phablets” were still a thing?
Prior to 2011, smartphones usually had screen sizes ranging from 3.5-inch to 4.3-inch displays. But when the first Samsung Galaxy Note launched, everything changed. Literally.
The first Galaxy Note’s 5.3-inch display, and its surprising popularity, set a new industry standard: bigger phones, and in turn bigger displays, were in.
And as we enter 2023, you’ll have a difficult time finding smartphones that have display sizes below 6.4 inches. Heck, flagship phones such as the S22 Ultra and the iPhone 14 Pro Max sport absolutely massive 6.8-inch and 6.7-inch displays respectively.
I argue, however, that phablets are not all that they’re made out to be. Small phones, in my eyes, are still way better than the tablet-sized devices we have today. Yes, I said it.
This argument of mine is coming from my experience with recently using an iPhone XS for a few months. The XS features a 5.85-inch screen, which may not sound small at first but is overall still much smaller compared to smartphone displays of today.
My experience with the smaller iPhone XS was so positive that I felt I had to share it with you guys. With that, let’s take a look at the reasons why I think small smartphones are better than phablets and why more people should seriously consider them for their next phone purchase.
Why small smartphones are better
Comfort and ease of use
Smartphones these days have become so hard to use. With their 6.5-inch and above-sized displays, you start to wonder whether you’re holding a phone or a large brick with glass on top.
This isn’t the case for small smartphones. Compact phones are able to provide the ease of use and comfort of being usable with one hand and not being so large that you end up dropping the phone on your face when you’re using it in bed (not me).
In addition, small phones are able to make the experience of using apps much easier. While some developers have optimized their apps to be large-screen friendly (by putting menus at the bottom, for example), others still put important elements of their apps at the bottom, making them extremely difficult to reach when using a big device.
With a small phone, any app is usable and finger-gymnastic-free.
Next is smaller phones are simply much easier to carry around. As someone who regularly bikes and commutes, phones these days have become so hard to bring around and keep in your pocket because of their larger displays.
This was never the case with my small iPhone XS, as I could very easily bring it in and out of my pocket whenever needed.
With a smaller phone, you can finally put your smartphone in your pants or shorts and not feel like you’re carrying a power bank-sized device at all times. You will also be able to put it in your bag and not have the added weight of a big phone to the other stuff in your everyday carry.
Less redundant devices for entertainment
As a disclaimer, this one doesn’t apply to people who have a smartphone as their only piece of tech to consume media or entertainment. If your smartphone is your all-in-one content-watching-and-consuming device, a bigger phone really is the best option.
However, if you have either a tablet, a laptop, a PC, or even a smart TV at home for your entertainment needs, I argue that having a big phone becomes unnecessary. Why?
Well, no matter how big a smartphone screen becomes, the viewing experience on a TV, a laptop, or a tablet is still much, much better because of the larger footprint of these devices in the first place. Movies, TV shows, and other types of content will always be better experienced on the aforementioned devices which are designed to give you as much screen as possible.
Audio and music are also generally better on these devices compared to phones with large display sizes. With a small phone, you won’t have to wonder whether to watch a movie on your phablet or on your TV.
The decision is made for you — and in turn, all your other devices will continue to be in your rotation and your investment (in these devices) becomes all the more worth it.
Small phones actually feel like a phone
Hear me out: the reason you purchase a smartphone is, primarily, to use it as a phone. When you purchase a smartphone with a larger display size, it suddenly feels less like a phone and more like a small tablet computer that happens to make calls and texts.
In my experience, having a bigger phone actually also causes you to use it a lot more. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong about this but if you feel like you have sort of developed somewhat of an addiction to your phone (which I am guilty of too), a bigger phone makes it a whole lot harder to take your eyes off the screen.
With a compact device, the smaller display reminds you that your phone is just that: a phone. Sure, you can use it to watch movies, read articles, or play games but ultimately, its main use is to help you communicate with the world and people around you.
Small displays bring the focus back to smartphones being phones.
Why big phones or phablets are great too
All of this is not to say that phones with big displays are bad. On the contrary, phablets (or big phones) carry most of the newest and latest innovations in the smartphone space. They are amazing for quick sessions of media consumption or mobile gaming.
They have bigger batteries that almost always last longer than your smaller-sized phone. The camera-shooting experience is also much better because of the larger viewfinder.
I just argue that there should be smaller smartphones for us consumers to be able to choose from. And while smartphones such as the ASUS Zenfone 9 are a great pick-up for small phone lovers like me, the fact that Apple’s iPhone Mini lineup has supposedly been discontinued shows that the smaller form factor is not a priority for most phone manufacturers.
For now, I’ll cherish the great times I’ve had with the small and mighty iPhone XS. For my fellow small smartphone enthusiasts out there, you have a fellow supporter in me.