Why iPhone 5 will be 3.5″ only

Lately I’ve been hearing lots of rumors that iPhone 5 will have a larger display. Reuters even claimed it to be a 4.6″ screen! I find these rumors greatly exaggerated and amusing as well. Here is why I think iPhone 5 is going to have a 3.5 inch screen only:

1. Navigation Problem:

iOS has the best designed UI workflow, keeping things as consistent and clean as they can. It can be ported to 4.6, 7.85 or whatever screen size Apple likes. But there is one fundamental thing which is one of the biggest roadblock in having a 4.6″ iPhone: The back navigation. 

If you look closely, the way you move back to the previous screen in most of the apps is an arrow at the top left corner. Normally this back button has the text of previous screen’s title. For example: if you are in Notes app viewing a note, this back button will have the text of “Notes”. This back button is used extensively in several apps like: YouTube, Notes, Settings, Phone, Messages, Twitter and many more. 

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(Example: Twitter app, notice the “Me” button)

If this screen is enlarged to 4 or 4.6 inch, just imagine how all these apps suddenly become a pain to navigate through. Can you reach out to that back button easily with just one hand? I don’t think so.

Sure you can use two hands to reach out to that back button but this is not what a mobile is all about. Its about mobility. We use our mobiles with one hand to quickly call up someone, or add a number and more. A mobile phone has to be operable largely and easily by one hand.

2. China Effect:

iPhone 4S is a blockbuster and is a huge hit in China as well. In fourth quarter 2011,China contributed $4.5 billion (or 16% of $28.7 billion total revenue for the quarter). This is huge and with just 6 Apple stores at that time. With more Apple stores coming up in China and availablility on China Mobile (world’s largest telecom carrier), this number could go through the roof. 

China has already become Apple’s second most important market after U.S. This means, Chinese customers are going to be considered with greater priority before any major product design decisions. Now everybody knows that chinese people don’t have such large hands to be comfortable with a 4+ inch screen. So making the screen larger will surely hamper the user experience for Chinese customers and won’t be a good idea for Apple.

3. Developers’ Pain

Apple already has 3.5″ and 9.7″ screen sizes and if they introduce 4+ inch size, many developers will have to re-adjust their apps or design their apps keeping in mind the new size as well. That’s already one of the biggest problem in Android camp. Android developers have to support multiple screen sizes and devices to make their apps work properly. If the same thing starts happening in iOS also, more and more developers will get turned off and might start looking elsewhere. I don’t think there is any big reason to make it worse for iOS developers. 

4. Strong demand for iPhone:

Last holiday quarter, Apple revealed it sold 37 million iPhones making it the largest smartphone maker. People are already opting for iPhones knowing its screen size of 3.5 inch. Apparently there is a strong and growing demand for 3.5″ iPhone. Apple doesn’t have to change the screen size because it hasn’t seen any indications. 

5. Don’t let them change the game:

This whole screen size buzz was initiated by Android devices in their desperate attempts of differentiating from iPhone. Apple never changed the iPhone screen size. If it does it now, it will be like following Android makers’ game where even larger phones will start coming up and this will go on. I don’t think Apple will go that way. 

All these points lead me to believe that iPhone 5 won’t be anything larger than 3.5″.

iPhone is all about apps, integration, seamless working and great user experience. They already have a set formula which is working every quarter. Its not broken, so there is no need to fix it.

What’s your opinion?

[Guest article contributed by Jeet Singh, co-founder www.matcoms.com. He has also Launched VIKI- a personal assistant like Siri. Article reproduced from his blog.]

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