Are 4.0″ and smaller Android phones just for kids or do you still want them?

Posted May 07, 2012 at 8:48 am in Threads > Opinions

This morning, HTC and Verizon announced the new Droid Incredible 4G LTE. You can think of this as essentially a 4.0″ HTC One S with a qHD screen, removable battery, and some other Droid-branded tweaks.

Specs from the press release:

  • 4-inch super LCD qHD display
  • 8 megapixel rear-facing camera with autofocus, LED flash, BSI, f/2.2 and 28 mm lens
  • Front-facing camera for video chatting with friends and family
  • 1.2 GHz dual-core Qualcomm® Snapdragonâ„¢ S4 processor
  • Mobile Hotspot capable to share 4G LTE connection with up to 10 Wi-Fi-enabled devices
  • Support for up to 32 GB microSDâ„¢ memory card
  • 1,700 mAh lithium ion removable battery

So this sounds like a decent device but many people aren’t going to like the small 4.0″ screen. So my question to you is this: Do you still care about 4.0″ screens? Is this too small? Or are these modern phones too much like a tablet and not enough like a phone?

  • lancaster09

    I think the appropriate screen size is dependent upon size of the actual device. I want my device to still fit in my pocket but have some decent real estate for the screen. The G2X is a well proportioned phone with a screen size of 4″ and overall dimensions of 4.90″x 2.50″x 0.40″. Now I would not mind a larger screen if it didn’t compromise the overall size of the phone.For example the Samsung Galaxy S2 has a 4.52″ display but the overall dimensions are 5.11 x 2.71 x 0.37 inches.

    On the other hand, I think screens smaller than 4″ really are for kids, the novice, or someone looking for the cheap deal.

    In the end OEMs are listening to their audience for the most part, but its always important to be innovative and create a phone that is out of the ordinary and has a 5.3″ display with a stylus… test those boundaries!!

  • SGB101

    i got the X because i wanted real estate for watching podcasts, the not imo is to big, so 4.7″ was my compromise .

    if your not into watching videos on a phone 3.7″ is fine, as long as it has a decent ppi.

    i remember when size was king, anyone remember the Nokia 8210 ?

  • B2L

    There are different screen sizes for different people, there’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to phones. Personally, I prefer what some people may call “gigantic” phones, I have friends that say “anything over 4″ is too large.”

    No matter how small, or how large, there will be some kind of niche market for it. It’s nice seeing a high spec’d device with a smaller screen size, it will give someone more options that’s looking for a device within a certain size.

  • redraider133

    I think larger screens are welcome if they keep the overall size of the device down but with huge bezels that does not seem to be the case although Htc and Samsung seem to be heading in the right direction with smaller bezels.

  • Ironzey Lewis

    I think 4 inches is a good size. Up until Saturday I was using the Sensation (4.3in) and I thought that was a good size. Currently I’m using my old Nexus One (3.7) until my Galaxy Nexus gets delivered.
    While 3.7 is on the small side it is still usable but I wouldn’t want to go with anything smaller.
    On a side not I’m in love with the size of the Galaxy Note (5.3) I think it’ll be perfect for my use.

    We,android and me fans, are not “normal” people. There are TONS of people that are happy with the 3.5 in screen that comes with the “other” phone.

  • CTown

    I guess if a phone has a big screen but it is wide and thin enough to balance that height, then that phone can still look sort of “cute”. Though most of the flagships have screen sizes at least 4.3 inches and higher.

    So, I don’t think phones with 4 inch screens are for children but at the same time I no longer think an Android phone like that could be considered a premium device anymore.

  • Gene Rankin

    There are folks who like small phones, and I’m one of them. HP/Palm’s Pre2 is exactly the right size, for I’m not interested in watching TV on the thing. For me, it is a phone & a pocket computer, so a device that’s about 4″ long is plenty big enough.

    What I’m after is a similarly-sized Android-powered phone – but I’d not be in the market for one if HP had not abandoned the Pre.

    I guess I just don’t understand the “premium device” lingo when it is tied only to something the size of a brick.

  • Laurel laurel25

    I think that, for me, 4″ is the perfect size, but I have really small hands. I will probably get a device with a bigger screen the next time I get a phone, but that is mostly due to the fact that all the phones I’m interested in have bigger screens and there aren’t many mid- to high-end phones that have a smaller screen size.

  • tmihai20

    My first real smartphone was the HTC HD2 (it has a 4.3 inches screen). My current device (HTC Evo 3D) has a 4.3 inches screen, I don’t think I could use a device with a smaller screen, I can handle large screens. I would not go further than 4.8 inches though (although I prefer the One X with 4.7 inches). I think a 4 inches screen can be a starter for somebody who has never used a smartphone before.

  • Inprogress

    I’m not looking to carry a movie screen in my pocket. All I want, is a small, rugged phone running Android so that I can run a few applications on it.

    If Sony could remake the W890i in a Android phone, THAT will be great! That little phone was super rugged (though it did not look it). The only issue is, it’s outdated which means it doesn’t run Android – and writing apps for it now is impossible.

    I suppose, and Android W890i will have to be a tad bit larger to accomodate the onscreen keyboard. But seriously, I need a phone to be a phone first, a text interface and communication device second, and a multimedia/multipurpose device third that allows me to run software applications instead of carrying hardware application.

    Relatively tough (just make it dust proof, water resistant, and dropable – a silicone cover does wonders for drops), and small enough to not be intrusive. And rather make it a tad bit thicker which actually helps you hold it in your hand, and allows for a nice long life battery – above 2000mah!

  • Inprogress

    Oh! And make so that the front and back covers can be replaced if such a drop did damage it a tad to badly. Longevity please!

  • acostaisasmendi

    I think 4.0 is more than enough for a phone.

    But I do like bigger screens :D

  • raul427

    Overall device size matters more than screen size.
    “The G2X is a well proportioned phone with a screen size of 4″ and overall dimensions of 4.90″x 2.50″x 0.40.″

    I have a G2x and agree that is about a big as I’d want to go. Smaller would be better if it were still a full featured, powerful “phone.” After all, these things are phones first for many of us. If I want to watch a movie, I go to the theater or turn on a television. If I need to send some email, I sit at my laptop where I can type. When I want to put a device in my pocket while I go for a bike ride or play on the playground with my kids, I grab my phone. I don’t need a large screen in order to make or receive a phone call. When I want to show photos or movies to a larger audience, I prefer to use a wifi file transfer app or a cable to show them on a full size monitor or digital TV.

    I hope my next phone will be smaller than my G2x and still have what’s considered high-end features. If that means I’ll be looking at a 3.5″ screen, I can handle that.

    • jaxidian

      “After all, these things are phones first for many of us.”

      I guess this is the thing that I keep forgetting. Like you, I have no home phone and I even use my phone for business (on occasion). However, with that being said, my phone acts as a pocket-sized computer first and a phone secondarily. Perhaps the absolutely needed requirements are phone first and computer second but the majority of time spent is computer first and phone second. So while I absolutely NEED the phone, I’m willing to have that portion be a tad painful to make the other portion much more pleasant simply due to the amount of time I spend with it for that purpose.

      • Laurel laurel25

        I would have to agree with you. We don’t have a home phone either and while my cell is my primary phone, I really don’t talk on the phone that much and use it much more often as a computer of sorts (checking email, FB, surfing the web, playing games). I’m willing to sacrifice comfort in holding it as a phone (which is negligible since I usually use it on speaker anyway) for ease of use as a computer substitute, however, I am NOT willing to sacrifice quality of sound and/or performance of radios/signal strength.

  • jedi_mind_trick

    Without a doubt, the smartphone (or a device of that form factor) is on it’s way to becoming our primary computing device (ousting desktops, laptops, tablets, et al). But before this goal is reached, several hurdles need to be removed:

    Processor speed and ability. Moores law will take care of that.
    Storage. Flash storage is getting bigger and cheaper by the day.
    Input. A trickier hurdle – touch capacitive input screens are ok, but I’m not in a hurry to compose anything beyond a paragraph using them. Speech may take us there. Or, gesture tech (Leap).
    Display. Bigger is better except when it’s in your pocket. I’m hoping this can be solved with WiDI or similar – so that my phone display will slave to a larger authorized display in near proximity.

    Solve these issues and I’ll take the 4inch display device as my main device.

  • Dmitry

    As the phones are getting bigger and bigger, approaching the size of original mobile phones 20+ years ago, I hope that in the long run it will eventually lead to us humans evolving bigger hands, so that they fit in snugly, and maybe pouches, like the ones kangaroos have, to lug them around.

    • Daniel

      I’ve been carrying the original Incredible (3.7″) because I don’t want a bigger phone. For me it is a phone first and widescreen tv second. I have a tablet, laptop, PC, and TV if I want a bigger screen. I want my phone to be highly mobile and to fit comfortably in my pocket. When I see people with large phones all I can think is “What year is it?!”. If android phones can’t offer me a reasonably sized replacement for my 2 year old phone I’ll be switching to iPhone (sadly). I sure as hell don’t want to need two hands to use the phone.

      But hell, if I develop a kangaroo pouch I would be happy to get a larger phone too.

  • Dr.Carpy

    As a Galaxy Note owner, I am officially all in with the bigger size phone. My son likes it to watch videos or game. My wife was skeptical at first, but even though her hands aren’t as big as mine, she even loves the Note. Everyone I come across holds it and falls in love. 4.5″ is probably fine for most people though. I can’t wait though for the Note 2!

  • shaun76

    I have a GNex and a Nexus S – I try to go back to the NS every so often, but don’t like that form factor any more. I prefer the larger size.