Are the days of the small smartphone dead?
Previously, friends of mine who wanted a smaller smartphone would typically go with the iPhone or the Moto X, regardless of whether or not they preferred iOS or Android. They were, if nothing else, reliable and perfect for one-handed use for most people. I only own a Nexus 5 because my friend sold it to me, saying she couldn’t stand the size and, despite having few issues with Android itself, opted to replace it with a 5S. Unfortunately for her and others like her, the flagship iPhones are now 4.7 and 5.5 inches, Moto X is 5.2 inches and even its cheaper cousin, the Moto G, is 5 inches. Obviously, customers have spoken, and the majority prefer larger phones – according to Android Central, Motorola specifically cited this as their reason for bumping the Moto X up a full .5 inches in size:
We can grumble about that all we want (and we will), but Motorola says it has data showing that 75 percent of folks upgrading phones wanted to go with something bigger. So, Motorola went bigger, too.
For many, screens much greater than 4 inches are far from ideal for a variety of reasons – the 4.7-inch Moto X was about as large as a phone could get while still being considered a “one-handed” phone. Despite the fact that, on paper, the Moto X and the iPhone 6 are 4.7 inches, the small bezel size of the Moto X means it’s noticeably smaller than the iPhone 6 – you can see a great comparison of that here.
So, the iPhone is no longer the go-to device when friends ask me what small phone they should buy. On the Android side, the only small smartphones are either lower-end or phones that don’t seem to get US releases, like the Xperia Z Compact series. Honestly, I don’t know what to tell those friends anymore, except maybe to get the 5S which, despite being a year old, and is still a great phone.
At this point, the only real hope is that Android OEMs will release flagships along the lines of the Xperia Z Compact, in order to fill the niche being abandoned by Apple – which seems unlikely – or that, next year, there will be enough consumer feedback that we’ll see 4-inch, 4.7-inch, and 5-5inch versions of the iPhone 6S.
What do you all think? Am I missing an obvious choice, or has it now become substantially more difficult to find a small flagship smartphone to recommend to others? Do people who prefer small smartphones just have to adapt to a smartphone landscape that’s no longer interested in serving their needs?