For true tech fans, screen size and form factor 'creep' are myths
So 2013 saw the first 6"-screened 'phone' (the Huawei Ascend Mate). Greeted with a degree of shock by most, would you be surprised to know that my 'smart' device of choice back in 1997, a whopping sixteen years ago, also had a touchscreen with a 6" diagonal? Now that your jaw has hit the floor, let me suggest you glance at the chart below, proposing that large screened devices have, for tech fans preferring to live on the cutting edge, always been available and that impressions of a gradual size creep are more for the wider market.
You see, the very first 'smart' devices in our pockets (in my case, the Psion Series 3a and then Series 5 palmtops) had, on the whole, larger screens than the Android-powered monsters of today. For example, it beggars belief that the humble Psion Series 3a from 1993 has a screen that's exactly the same size as the one in the latest Samsung Galaxy Note II - yet it's true, I just measured it!
With that in mind, I've cherry picked some of the cutting edge smart devices from the last 16 years and represented their screen diagonals, plotted against time, running right through to today:
Note how the space between 4" and 6" is most populated in this 'flagship' overview - this screen size has always been available to geeks and tech fans, prepared to seek out the right kit.
Of course, there are more general consumer trends, with the dotted line representing the average in 'phone' screen sizes, as seen by the general man or woman in the High Street. From tiny screened feature phones of the millennium to the introduction of smartphones masquerading as 'normal' phones (Nokia's S60 Symbian handsets, for example) to the increasing presence of touchscreens in mainstream hardware today. It's this trend that we normally consider when thinking of increasing size - I've put it as a straight line, but in reality it's probably tapering off and will level out around 4.3". Again, this is for general consumers.
Meanwhile, the tech illuminati, those who follow tech news, trends and announcements, and who are prepared to seek out hardware that really, truly suits their needs, can carry on cherry picking, as I've done here. I went from Psion Series 3 to 5 to Nokia 9210 to 9500 to E90, for example, never once dipping below 4" screen size over a fourteen year period. In fact, apart from a few dalliances with S60 devices like the N93 and N95, and a year with the 3.5" screened Nokia N8, I'm still over 4", with the Nokia 808, Lumia 920 and Galaxy S III currently the three smart devices in my pockets.
Comments welcome. Does this geek theory of screen size continuity ring true for you? Or is it skewed because of where I started - Psion palmtops and Nokia Communicators which were ahead of their time?
Published by Steve Litchfield at 11:03 UTC, April 2nd