Smartphone Screen Size Sweet Spot

Smartphone Screen Size Sweet Spot

When it comes to smartphones, what is your screen size preference? Your answer to this question will largely depend on how you use your phone and what phone applications are most important to you. The video hounds among us, of course, would probably cram a big-screen TV into their pockets if they could. However, many people still value portability over high resolution. Although it may sound crazy in this day and age, there are some who still want to use their cell phones to make phone calls. For those consumers, and many others, a device that fits easily into their hand has many advantages. Whatever your usage preferences happen to be, smartphone designers are working hard to find a screen size sweet spot to meet your specific wants and needs.  

Screen Size and Phone Design

Overall size is one of the most important elements of consumer design when it comes to smartphone displays and overall smartphone size. Although few people want to squint their eyes at an extremely tiny display, the biggest smartphone isn’t always the best smartphone. For most cell phone users, it’s all about finding an ideal balance between visual utility and compact portability.

Before determining that ideal balance, however, it is important to realize that larger screen sizes and a greater overall resolution do not necessarily mean a larger phone.

There are multiple reasons for this. First, many phone makers have reduced the overall size of their phone frames (or bezels) without reducing screen size. In other words, modern technology has allowed some manufactures to create digital devices that are nearly all screen. 

Another way to pack more screen surface onto a mobile device is to optimize the screen’s aspect ratio. While most modern smartphones have adopted the 16:9 aspect ratio that is common to TVs and computer monitors, some manufacturers have toyed with screen dimensions to give consumers more visual bang for their buck. The LG G6, for example, features an aspect ratio of 2:1, while the recently-released BlackBerry KEYone has adopted a 3:2 aspect ratio to make room for a physical keyboard below the screen.

The Screen Sizes of Today

The current smartphone market is highly fragmented in terms of screen sizes, ranging from the tiny 240x320-resolution Nokia 230 to the massive 2160x3840-resolution Sony Xperia Z5 Premium. In general, however, the smallest of the small and the largest of the large appeal only to extremely limited niche markets when it comes to smartphones. 

Most consumers of today find a screen of less than 4 inches to be irritating if not entirely useless. But manufactures who stretch their screens over 6 inches have also met with considerable market resistance, creating devices that many consumers decry as “phablets” - devices that are something between a clumsily large phone and a uselessly small tablet.

The Screen Sizes of Tomorrow 

The smartphone screen sweet spot of today stands somewhere between 5 and 6 inches. This is considerably larger than the screen sizes that consumers were demanding just a few years ago, which begs the question: will this trend toward larger smartphone screens continue? 

The independent technology analysis organization IDC answers this question with both a yes and a no. Looking ahead to 2021, the IDC sees the sale of devices with screens of less than 5 inches diminishing considerably, leaving more market share for the current sweet spot of 5 to 6 inches. However, the IDC isn’t seeing much market change for the largest smartphones. So, while consumers aren’t likely to want 7-inch devices anytime soon, they may no longer view a 6-inch phone as a much-derided phablet.