OPINION: With the recent reveal that Apple was actually planning an iPhone nano back in the day, I feel that the trend of phones growing bigger each year is an issue for small-handed people everywhere.
I don’t think it’s that controversial to say that phones are getting bigger, not smaller.
Apple isn’t actually the worst for this, with many of the best Android phones around passing the 6.7-inch mark.
But it seems that no matter the phone, they’re just too big. The iPhone 12 Pro is 6.06-inches diagonally, which means I can never comfortably fit it in one hand, and I would be surprised if anyone who wasn’t an adult man could.
Of course, it’s easy to see why phones are getting bigger. More screen means more to see, more to engage with, and the possibility for better quality visuals and videos that aren’t squished down to a tiny screen. It also just generally looks better on the spec sheet.
But is it too much to ask that phone manufacturers take into account how big people’s hands actually are? In general, the average length of a man’s hand is 7.6-inches, and the average for a woman is 6.8-inches, and some phones easily clock out over that.
So knowing that, and then looking to see that a lot of smartphones sit around the 6-inch mark, it makes sense that I can’t use Twitter without feeling like I’m developing carpal tunnel, it’s because the phone really isn’t made with that in mind.
Apple is making its way back into my good books since the release of the iPhone 12 Mini, which sits at a reasonable 5.4-inches, just a tad smaller than the iPhone X. But I also think it’s come a little too late, as this is the first Apple phone available that is as good as the newest phone and smaller, so you don’t have to sacrifice size for quality.
I know I’m talking about Apple a lot here, and I’ll be upfront and say that’s because I’ve always had Apple phones. But it doesn’t seem to matter the brand, whenever I get the chance to play with an Android-toting phone I’m overwhelmed with the notion that I would never be able to send a speedy one-handed text, or quickly check Twitter while my other hand was occupied, as it really feels like a two-man operation just to get to the top of the screen to the bottom.
Phones also don’t all need to be tiny, I understand some people love a big phone and I don’t begrudge anyone that wants to carry a brick around with them, though I still don’t understand why you’d want to.
Instead, the simple solution here is just what Apple has done, mobile manufacturers should start making versions of new phones that are in ‘Mini’ form, so more people can actually use their own smartphones without straining their wrists.
But really, that’s why I blame Apple for this. If the company would have made the iPhone nano back in 2011, it’s more than likely that the trend would have caught on, and more phones would be available to buy in smaller sizes.
But instead, the trend went the opposite way, and phone sizes just keep going up. Comparing the iPhone 6 – the last phone I felt I could comfortably hold with one hand – and the iPhone 12 Mini. The 6 is 4.7-inches and the 12 Mini is 5.4-inches, so even the smallest recent phone from Apple is still a fair few inches bigger than what I personally find comfortable.
I will mention though for all the pedants, that the height and width of the iPhone 6 are actually bigger than the 12 Mini, however, I am discounting that as the screen is the part of the phone you actually interact with, and an extra 0.7-inches does make the difference.
Foldables were also promising, there was nothing stopping companies from making foldable phones that become smaller and slimmer, easier to hold and easier to slip into your pocket. But we didn’t get that, instead, most mobile manufacturers just took this as the chance to make phones even bigger, to double the number of screens and make it impossible for someone of my size to use them one-handed.
So, my pitch ends with asking Apple, and other phone companies, to consider revisiting this nano concept and to make versions of new phones that aren’t ridiculously big, but is perfect to hold in just one hand.