Why the bigger iPhone 6 is the ultimate fulfilment of Steve Jobs’ vision

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When Steve Jobs was still alive, he seemed adamant that the size of the iPhone’s screen was perfect, since it was the maximum width a screen could be and be comfortable to hold while typing one-handed.

With the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 on the horizon, though, it appears that Apple no longer agrees. But why? Why are smartphone screens getting bigger anyway?

Over at PC World, Ben Taylor lays out all the data on the ever-growing world of smartphone screen sizes, and ultimately examines five hypotheses as to why.

Rejecting the notion that larger screens are a marketing gimmick for lack of data, or that Apple got screen size wrong when it released the original iPhone in 2007, Taylor considers the idea that manufacturers have always wanted to make bigger phones, but technology didn’t allow it.

As he notes, this theory makes a good deal of sense. The pixel densities needed to drive larger screens require advanced battery and display technologies, which didn’t really exist when the iPhone was first released.

Ultimately, though, Taylor makes a convincing case that the real reason people are gravitating to larger smartphones now is that the smartphone has become our primary computer. “As smartphones become our primary devices, doing the jobs once held by computers and even televisions, we need a product that can change, like a chameleon, to serve all of these functions,” he writes.

I think there’s a lot to recommend that theory. Steve Jobs wasn’t wrong about screen sizes: A 4.7-inch iPhone 6 is just the ultimate culmination of his vision that the iPhone would become the most important computer in our lives.

  • Adrayven

    Like many opinions, Steve wasn’t afraid to change his mind.. I don’t think he would have hesitated to say that 4.7″ or 5.5″ was the perfect size for the use case scenario’s of today..

    Back then, it was still a phone and messaging platform.. A lot has changed in the 7+ years since the first iPhone.

    • Christopher Columbus

      Nice try making him seem like he knew what he was talking about and it wasn’t just a case of him brainwashing and making an excuse for smaller screens. The iPhone 4S was not some old “messaging machine”. Jobs was still there with the iPhone 5 which changed from 3.5″ to 4″ and there was no difference between what I used my iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 for. Whoever thumbs upped this is a fanboy who is praising the first person to make an excuse.

      • MGD

        Jobs died a year before the iPhone 5 was even announced. So he was not “there with the 5.”

  • Grunt_at_the_Point

    I have a different thought. The larger screens are Tim Cook vision of Apple. Lets give the credit where the credit is due. Steve Jobs is no longer with us. Tim Cook is at the helm.

    • http://jimeagle.com James Eagle

      Thank you, why does everything have to be about Jobs.

  • Tallest Skil

    Wrong. A manufacturer would not have always wanted a larger device; they would have wanted a smaller device but miniaturization wouldn’t have allowed it.

  • http://twitter.com/gettysburg11s gettysburg11s

    I have to admit that I kind of like the screen size my iPhone 5 is at. That being said, Apple’s vision of a 4.7 inch screen isn’t going to be a huge departure. It will increase in height more than width, and not that much of either. Supposedly, the 4.7 inch iPhone 6 is pretty close to the current iPhone 5’s size (7/10 of an inch isn’t that much when you think about it).

    • http://jimeagle.com James Eagle

      You should try a larger phone for a month, chances are, you won’t want to go back.

      • PMB01

        I’ve used my brother’s S4. A 5 inch phone simply looks retarded when held up to your face. It is supposed to be a PHONE after all. 5″ and larger qualifies as a mini tablet, not this mythical phablet that everyone keeps talking about. Phablets are NOT a thing. Most people want their phone to actually fit comfortably in their pocket.

        But hey, it’s cool that you enjoy holding a tablet up to your face to make calls. Most people want to NOT look like a dumbass.

      • Andy Shorrock

        I’ve an iPhone 3GS (never saw then need to jump for an extra half inch) & a Samsung Galaxy G4.

        So I look like a dumbass when I make calls do I?

      • Gridley Wu

        Yes, you do.
        All you need is the Samsung in one hand, and one of those big Fosters “oil can” beers in the other, and you’d look like a geeky little kid holding on to his dad’s beer and playing with his phone.

      • PMB01

        Yep.

  • QwertyJuan

    It’s quite nice to see that any of Messiah Jobs’ quotes can easily be manipulated to match anything currently coming out of Apple!! I approve!

  • http://www.designstrategies.com Len Williams

    Screen size is a personal preference. As processing power increases and storage capacities get larger and less expensive, I predict that in 10-15 years, our phones will morph into our ONLY computers. The processor and storage will be in our pockets (backed up in the cloud, of course) and will automatically sync up to our desktop screens when we sit down at our large desktop screens (with keyboards) to do serious work. Connections will be wireless so our phones won’t have to come out of our pockets. Screen sizes for the iPhone will be small (current iPhone 5s size), medium (5″) and large (6″ to 7″ or greater) to cover personal preferences while mobile. When we walk into our living rooms, our phones will sync up to our TVs and ask what we want to watch (or will give us a choice of programs or music). When we arrive home after work, our in-house control systems will be aware of our arrival and will sync up with our phones to ensure our temperature setup is correct, coffee is turned on, notifications are ready to be received, etc. The phone will be the personal hub (connected to the cloud) that will link to the other connected systems depending on our locations.

  • Mohamed Danish

    Think Big.

  • Ed Chase

    When the iPhone first came out, I thought it was too big and din’t want one. I thought Apple would make an iPhone Nano. I eventually bought a 3GS and now have the iPhone 5S which I think is too small. So I think Apple probably had the right size initially but times have changed and things have moved on, larger screens are inevitable.

  • Janey J

    Soooo much speculation on the amazing new features the iPhone 6 will have. Personally, I am with this guy: http://www.sellmycellphones.com/2014/07/10/iphone-6-feature-my-one-wish/

    Thats my wish too – a longer battery life!! Thats it. Not bothered about a bigger screen, 50mp camera etc etc etc. Come on Apple, I need a phone that doesn’t die after 16 hours!

  • Yarrenbool

    So, 2 screen sizes, why not 2 thicknesses? Thin for those that like that, thick(er) for those that want/need a battery to last a whole day with very heavy use.

    • PMB01

      5.5 inch isn’t going to happen; Apple already sells a small tablet.

  • JJ

    Steve was not stupid. He knows what he was talking about at that time. But of course android fanboys would rather dwell in the past and play dumb just to make Jobs seem like he didn’t know any better.

  • Andy Shorrock

    Very rare for me to want to use my phone one-handed, except when it’s up at my ear so I’ll be buying when they release a 5.5″ iPhone.

  • Gridley Wu

    Not a fan of bigger phones. 4.7″ is absolutely the largest I’d tolerate, over 5″ is out of the question.
    Frankly, I’d love for them to release an iPhone Nano! Half the size of the iPhone 5! Especially now with the ability in iOS 8 to handoff calls and sms to iPads and computers. I’d keep my iPhone Nano in my pocket (where a phone belongs), a bt headset in my ear, and my iPad in hand for browsing, email, videos, etc.
    Unlikely, given current trend toward obnoxiously big phones, but I can dream.

  • Mr. T

    Dear Mr. Brownlee,
    You’ve got somę problems with your memory, I’m afraid:
    cultofmac.com/141183/why-android-phones-are-so-huge-compared-to-iphones/

  • Hello Apple
  • lozohcum

    what a piece of bullshit. SJ said that no one is going to buy smartphone bigger than 3.5.

    I haven’t seen bigger hypocrisy so far.

  • jamirq

    hahaha yeah and next ipad was also designed by SJ

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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