Does Display Size Make Any Difference?

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Over a year ago, I went out and purchased for myself the Samsung S8003 Jet, a feature phone that was marketed as “smarter than smartphone”. It had a 3.1 inch, AMOLED resistive touchscreen that I felt was large at the time (this was January 2010, you know). 3-inch displays were beginning to get in vogue at that time, so the Jet was a display champion of sorts at the time.

Late last year, I had the joy of playing with a 4.3-inch display HTC HD 7, a Windowsphone device, and I was particularly intrigued by the WP7 user interface. While the WP7 UI retains its merits, little did I know that much of the WOW factor was due to the size of the display. How did I arrive at this conclusion?

AAfter the HD7, I got my hands on another WP7 device, the HTC 7 Mozart, this time sporting a 3.7-inch display. There was no WOW this time. The UI was still as fluid and exactly the same, but it just didn’t mesmerize me as it did on the 4.3-inch HD7.

Fastforward to early March 2011 when Nokia West Africa presented to me a Nokia E7 for keeps. Remember that I had been using an N8 since November last year (courtesy of Nokia as well). The N8 has a 3.5-inch display, and the new Symbian UI looks good on it. But…

When I powered on the 4-inch display E7, everything just looked better by far. Same user interface, same icons, but looking much better. Text is more readable. Images are clearer.

Of course, the Nokia E7 has the famous and superb ClearBlack AMOLED display that trounces the N8’s, which lacks the ClearBlack technology. Blacks are really, really black, sunlight legibility is excellent, contrast and sharpness are stunning. The E7’s display simply reminds me of the venerable Nokia E90’s stunning display.

After my experiences with two separate mobile platforms, it seems very clear to me that a phone’s screen size does make a difference. Does that mean “bigger is better”? Not necesarilly. In my opinion, beyond certain sizes, a phone becomes uncomfortable to use as… well… a phone.

I am thinking that a display of 4.0 to 4.5 inches is optimum. Anything beyond that, and I am not so sure.

What do you think? Does display size make any difference in your books? What’s your ideal phone display size?


  1. Bigger is better.

    3.5′ to 4.3′ is my range.

    A 4′ with qwerty is my best safe heaven.

    All these new phones with wide screen estate just make the phones more user friendly, esp with the touch interfaces.

  2. This is something for the technologists to mens their cerebra to – can you give us a mobile device thai can be wrapped up like a scroll?

    That way, screen size can be as wide as I wish.

    Flexible / malleable display, flexible microcircuit boards, flexible solar panels – how many light years away?

  3. This is something for the technologists to bend their cerebra to – can you give us a mobile device thai can be wrapped up like a scroll?

    That way, screen size can be as wide as I wish.

    Flexible / malleable display, flexible microcircuit boards, flexible solar panels – how many light years away?

  4. Yes. To me also, the bigger the screen the better. I am now almost used to 3.5 inch screens. Any thing smaller than this wouldn’t just be good for me. If bigger, then possibly better. Yes, I also understand why Yomi so prefers the HTC HD 7 to the Mozart. Real estate in Land or LCD screen sure makes a difference!

    Yes, the E7 has the Nokia super clear amoled display as a trump card over the N8 alOng with the larger screen. But I see Nokia prepping up a version of Nokia N8 with bigger screen and better resolution, Then the QWERTY difference between the two might only be artificial!

  5. Let them come out big and bold. Some of us are getting senile and need to get our reading lenses out for the likes of Xperia 10 mini.

    Yes, a size of between 4inch. to 4.5inch is just right. And we don’t need to be told that a side sliding qwerty hardware should be thrown in for good measure

  6. Display size does matter to me and it makes more sense when I also consider the display resolution or screen resolution of a device.

    0n 2.6/2.8 display sizes, I prefer the basic 320×240(QVGA) resolution. My ultimate is a 4.3 display sporting a 800×480(WVGA) resolution. So, I am looking forward to owning a Galaxy S II or HTC Desire HD.

    The dated WinMo HD2, which is the first 4.3 display device still appeals to me too because it can easily be modded to run most Operating systems…android, Windows phone 7, Maemo, and Windows 95.

    I still wonder why Nokia limited the E7 resolution to 360×480 on a 4.0 display!!!

  7. deoladoctor,

    If you don’t want to develop high blood pressure out of annoyance, please stay away from the current crop of side sliding qwerty smartphones on WP7. The display stays in portrait for the most part when the keyboard is extended. Do you copy?

  8. Brym,

    You mean 360×640? That’s the correct resolution. The last I heard of it, it was attributed to a limitation inherent in Symbian OS.

    Dunno how true that is though.

  9. @Yomi,

    Aye, aye, roger I copy loud & clear.
    What a shame. Hope the next crops will see the wisdom in auto rotation whenever keyboard slides out.

  10. the bigger the better.

    For a mobile/smart phone I don’t think I’d love to carry a pad about, which may mean a bag or extra holster. The screen size of the E71 is becoming more uncomfortable, I wonder how I use to enjoy nokia3310, nokia5130 xpress music & the like :P.

    If you taste a larger screen, you’d see how better & appealing life is on the other side of the sea. 😀

  11. For me …. the screen size is very important. Anything btw 4.0 and 4.5. The 4.3inch is best. I also don’t think a touch screen with keypad on such screen sizes is cool. It takes away the slim part of the deal. The galaxy s is slim with a 4inch display, but guess what, the galaxy s 2 is slimmer with @ 4.3inch. Imagine if it came with a keypad …. they wont be able to achieve the slim frame. Having gone this far with screen…nothing less than a 4inch can appeal anymore

  12. I said above, ‘Flexible / malleable display, flexible microcircuit boards, flexible solar panels – how many light years away?’

    looks like some of these predictions are now with us!


  13. @EyeBeeKay

    Now the laugh is on me.
    Where on earth did you get all these your medical terms from? God any child or wife in a medical school?

    Seriously speaking, I think we are moving towards a new era in mobile tech and things are moving rather fast. Who would have thought of a flexible/foldable screen five years ago?

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