It may be hard to believe this, but when the Apple iPhone debuted way back in 2007, many questioned whether a handset so big would find any buyers. Its 3.5-inch display was huge compared to devices like the super-tiny Motorola RAZR which was all the rage back then.
What a difference a few years makes. Today, many are wondering how long Apple can continue to be successful if the next iPhone doesn’t have a display over 3.5 inches. Virtually all smartphones running Google’s Android OS have larger ones than that, some going above 4.5 inches.
And it doesn’t stop there. Samsung and LG are exploring even bigger touchscreens. For example, AT&T is about to release the Samsung Galaxy Note, a hybrid phone/tablet with a 5.3-inch display.
The reason for the rapid increase in screen size: what people are using their phones for has changed dramatically. In the mid-90s and before, these devices were primarily used for voice calls and text messaging. Handsets back them could be tiny, because most people only used the display to read short text messages or see who was calling them.
Today, people use their smartphones to access the Web, play games, watch video, exchange email and texts, and even access Office files. For all these tasks, the bigger the screen the better.
With the steady gain in display size, we’ve given up some portability, but we’ve gained tremendous functionality — and the tradeoff is worth it.
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