Survey says consumers prefer phones with bigger screens - should the next iPhone be 4 inches?

A girl using an iPad as a phone

Strategy Analytics has just wrapped up a survey of smartphone owners in the U.S. and U.K. which concluded that 90% wanted a phone with a bigger display. The iPhone's current 3.5-inch screen seems downright diminutive compared to the 4-inch monsters that we've seen in the Android world for the last year or so, nevermind the crazy 5-inch devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note.

Should surveys like this be a hint to Apple that their next phone should by a little bit bigger, at least, say, 3.7 inches? Or are you guys happy with the current size of the iPhone display?

Source: AllThingsD, pic (from novelty iPad app)

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Simon Sage

Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.

More Posts



← Previously

1080p Apple TV shipments start arriving early

Next up →

How to setup your new iPad with iCloud or iTunes

Reader comments

Survey says consumers prefer phones with bigger screens - should the next iPhone be 4 inches?


I totally agree. Don't know how I'd feel about the widgets but I'd love an iPhone with a 4 inch screen! It's so long overdue!

I really think that if the screen is 4" and the radio
Is lte, android could be in trouble. Not that ndroid would die, but from my view as an android user, I would likely switch....the screen size and lte are what keep me android......although PICS would be awesome on a phone with good battery life.

I've had from 3.5 to 4.65. All are still operable with one hand. Depending on the manufacturer allremain very portable. I liked the iPhone but it would be better with a larger screen for data hogs and camera.

Although I regretted it, I chose Android for my last phone (upgraded in November). I chose Android simply based on the fact that I could get 4G and the larger screen. I really wanted the iPhone but I feared the screen would be to small. I wish I would have bought the iPhone instead because now i'm stuck supporting 2 eco systems and I can't share any of my app data between my phone and my iPad. I hadn't really thought of that aspect at the time. A 4in iPhone would have guaranteed that I didn't go android.

given that a lot of smartphones have larger screens, asking them that question is like asking "did you wish your screen was smaller?" no one will say "yes."
Better is to ask iPhone users if they would prefer larger screens.

Agree 100% i like the size as it is. If I need a bigger display I use my iPad
Why does it need it be bigger, someone walked past me the other day using what looked something like a tablet. On closer inspection is was an android run mobile. It was the most stupid thing I've ever seen.

Don't speak for everyone unless you are everyone. I hate when people do that.
I don't want a bigger iPhone screen, and actually would like a smaller one.
I just switched to a Nokia N8, and am enjoying it.
Can my iPhone 4S do way more than the Nokia?
Does it do enough to where I a) do not need to carry my iPhone and b) do not regret changing?
Yes and yes.
You know those people who aren't using the iPhone? I bet that some of them wish that the screen were smaller. But you wouldn't know that, because you already made their vote for them without asking.

Any phone with a screen larger than 4" just flat out looks stupid, not to mention it won't fit in your pocket either. If Apple does make a larger screened iPhone, it won't go beyond 4 inches. The few people that don't mind looking like a total dork holding a huge device up to their ear can always go for something from Samsung. They've got the dork market covered.

What kind of panta are you wearing that wont fit a four inch phone? My wifes Droid Incredible 2 has a four inch screen and its hardly bigger than an iphone.
Honestly, your comment was just plain stupid.
However, i feel Apple can introduce a larger screen without making the frame of the device much bigger. The top bezel is actually ridiculously large. They could and should break the mold and step it up half and inch.

Bluetooth is your friend. And you obviously haven't used a phone that size....or you wear women's jeans. There's no reason a phone with a 4.5 inch screen wouldn't fit in your pocket.

Seriously, how often is your phone up against your face? I think the majority of us who use our device to talk frequently have some sort of headset at this point. I like the big screen on my Android because I can talk on the phone with my headset & still use the phone while on the call to browse, play or text/email as well - otherwise that big boy just hangs out in my pocket & I do everything hands free with Vlingo.

Definitely believable as long as you're 6 foot, 115 lb wigger with size 48" waist baggy jeans hanging off your ass with your boxers hanging out. Then sure, I can see that Galaxy Note fitting in your pocket just fine.

I'm actually pretty fond of my 5.3" Galaxy Note, but I agree with you on 4-4.3" being the sweet spot.

Actually I've been thinking about this recently - I realised I hardly ever use my iPhone as a phone, so something that would be better all round for web broswing, pictures, video and other Apps would be great, even if that means sacrificing a little portability. I'm not sure I would carry a 5in device around all day, but a 4-4.5in device would be welcome from the next iPhone.

Well you know what they say, a big screen on a phone is to compensate for a short, well you know....lololol

I have to use my phone with one hand most of the time, so using something with a bigger screen would be supper annoying.

I am waiting for phones to be 9" inches and comes with a man-purse or something because it wont fit in our pockets anymore.

I want at least a 4" screen. It'd make for a much better browsing experience, since I don't use my iPhone as a phone all too often.

Bring back the bag phones! Just kidding. To me anything over 4" is overkill and not portable enough. I personally like the current iPhone just the way it is. 3.7 would be ok, but if they could make the screen bigger by going edge to edge of the phone, while keeping the same dimensions of the phone overall I would not complain.

I could adjust to something as big as 3.7-4, but if Apple goes over 4 I probably won't upgrade to it. Thats just too big for a phone IMO.
Anything that requires that much screen real-estate has no need to be done on a phone.

Except more people are using their smartphones for much more than just as a phone. I'd wager that most people under 30 use the phone portion seldomly.

The LAST iPhone should have been 4"! But yes, I think Apple would be making a huge mistake by keeping the screen size the same this time around.

Giant phones sound great on paper, and look fantastic in the shop. Usuabilty is downright awful though. Apple won't do it, of they do - its a sign they're going off track (spec sheet over usability)

I'd like to see this survey. I can't for the life of me figure out WHY on earth you need anything bigger than what the iPhones current screen size is. In fact, the massive screen sizes on those Droids ruled most of them out of the running for me when i was selecting a new phone from the get go.
I'm no luddite either - I enjoy technology as much as anyone, but I will never see the need for these ridiculous sized screens on a phone. If I wanted to lug around a 46" LCD to strap to my face, I would.
Leave it as is. Let the other idiots play into the US' preoccupation with size. Hummer is doing really well following that strategy. Wait - what's that? They are no longer in business? Hmmm. Maybe bigger ISN'T better.

I completely agree...anything requiring that much screen real-estate can be done on a computer. Not to mention, the awful battery life that would ensue.
I'll take my 3.5" screen and happily call it my mobile iPhone...there are other devices for other purposes.

I really like the overall size of the iPhone. Fits nice in the hand and usable with one hand. But I would love it more if they just increased the entire face to be a screen? Eliminate the physical home button, and put ear speaker in top or very close to top edge. Resolution could stay the same, and most apps could keep same proportions, just use extra space on photo or web apps that having more space helps. But 95% of the apps do not need to get bigger? Just maps, photo, webpage viewer apps would benefit from bigger screeen. IMO.

I love the current 3.5" screen. I think it's perfect for one-handed use, and really, if you need anything bigger you should just use a tablet or a laptop. I wouldn't mind if Apple decided to go with a 4" screen, but anything past 4" I think is just silly. I think also from a design standpoint, the current 3.5" look is very pleasing to the eye on the front face of the iPhone, because of the equal distance from the top and bottom edge, incorporating the home button and speaker. I think one of the things that Apple takes into consideration, more so than other phone makers, is the over design of the device. Maybe they don't want the screen to overshadow the whole front of the device, so maybe they want to keep the bezel. I think it looks nice.

I don't really know how I feel about it to be quite honest. I had a 4" Android phone for a while and the screen size was nice but difficult for me to operate with 1 hand. I can pretty easily navigate my 4S with my thumb in one hand and I really don't have any issue with the 3.5 inch screen not being large enough for me.
Since I picked up my iPad2 a year ago I think my phone has transformed into almost a pure communication tool (phone, sms, social networks, email) and a camera. I rarely consume much content on my iPhone unless I'm bored out of my skull on a train or something. My iPad has taken it's place as my main browsing/reading/gaming device. That said, I don't think it'd bother me one bit if the iPhone 5 was still 3.5".

We don't need yet another phablet out there! Please, keep the iPhone pocket sized! I see so many people show off their massive Android phablet, but then I laugh as they jam it into their pockets, half of the phablet sticking out. With the retina display, the iPhone looks better than the Android phablets anyway.

Bigger screen doesn't mean more screen real-estate. Samsung's marketing is really playing the market confusion strategy on purpose. It's the number of PIXELS not SIZE that determines how much you can see on the screen at one time. The iphone already displays more than anyone because it has the most pixels (those 'true HD' phone ads are so annoying). The only reason why you would need a bigger screen is to get bigger UI elements and allow for larger text. My vision is good enough to see the small text on my phone thank you and so is 90% of the iphone's target demographic. It really irks me how the android ads have convinced people they need to buy garbage. It demeaning that they think that we don't know what features are actually better (lte over battery life, size over real estate)

I strongly suspect the next iPhone will be 4 inches. iPhones are starting to look bad compared to Android phones due to their tiny screens. I doubt Apple will go bigger than 4 inches, but I definitely think a 4 inch iPhone is on the way.

yes, a larger phone will technically fit in a typical pants pocket ..
.. but no, i don't want to feel like i'm sitting on a plate.
going up to 4" would probably be fine though, especially if the bezel was cut down a little bit.
the niche i'd like to see apple fill is actually a smaller iPad. the current one is perfect as a casual laptop replacement but is a little too big and conspicuous to be purse or briefcase-able. something mid-way between the iPhone and iPad, using iPad iOS and pixel resolution would be perfect for that though it would require next generation pixel density to accomplish that elegantly.
something Star Trek PADD sized, and clearly not a phone.

Of course it should have a 4" screen. The real question here is why the author actually felt the need to write such a post and ask such an already answered question...

anything bigger might block my veiw of the road, Plus I don't want to have to use two hands while texting as one needs to be on the wheel, or the book Im reading.

No, one of those hands needs to be shoveling food into your mouth, then shaving, in addition to holding the map, and the other hand should be alternating between holding your book, on the steering wheel, shifting gears and flipping off the other drivers who pass you and yell or gawk at you for swerving into their lane. That's the only way to drive. You must be a bad driver if that's all you can do while driving. ;-P

Only one other mention of the smoking hot girl holding the iPad? Hold a 60" Plasma up to her face she will still look good.

I am a huge apple fan (iMac, iPods, iPhone, and iPad2) but I actually just switched from an iPhone 4 to a Motorola RAZR partially due to a need for larger screen size. This is my first Android device, and while its not as nice as the iPhone, the form suits my needs.
Like Matt above said, I realized that I dont use my cell phone as a phone very much, but rather to surf the web, as navigation, and to take pictures, all of which benefit from a larger screen. While I used to agree with others about there being "no need for anything larger than an iPhone", I now disagree. It's really nice having a larger screen, especially when viewing documents or using it as a GPS (As a matter of fact, now I wish I could get a Galaxy Note but I am on Verizon).
And for those that think that the extra 1/2"-3/4" is going to make it unpocketable: I seriously doubt you would have any problem carrying the Droid RAZR with its "huge" (lol)4.3 inch screen... its actually less noticeable than my iPhone was in my front pocket.
I am NOT and Android fanboy. I actually prefer Apple products and iOS, but there IS a desire for other form factors - the 3.5" isn't for everyone.

This. 4" to 4.5" (and even 4.7") screens are actually very pocketable, as long as the phone is designed right (not too thick).

I had alot of different phones in the past year, with different size screens. In my opinion, the 4' to 4.3' is a good screen size overall. I hope the next Iphone will be at least a 4inch.

I don't want a bigger phone.
The iPhone is just about the maximum I want in a size of phone.
If they can make a bigger screen but not a bigger phone then yeah; but I don't want a tablet-phone.
There are already large phones being made with Android; let them have that market.
I think the survey is BS.
Another targeted market survey, with misleading questions, and hammed "calculations".

I recently had my hands upon the huge Samsung , not only was I disappointed in the touchscreen , android and the whole phone , the size was not comfy in my hands and too big for my pocket , apple 's iPhone is just right !

Helly yeah the iPhone needs a 4 inch screen. The size of the Galaxy Note is too big, but the iPhone's screen is too small, especially with companies like HTC releasing phones with 4.3 inch 720p displays. Apple can hire Samsung/LG/Sharp or whoever it will turn to for the iPhone 6 to do better! LOL!

Apple needs to make two phones. One the size of the current one and a larger one for those who want a larger screen. That way everybody is happy!

I personally won't buy another iPhone til it gets a bigger screen. Unless my 4 craps out and I don't have a choice. At this point I'm not willing to leave iOS to get more screen.

Apple won't enlarge the screen much, if at all, for software and marketing reasons. Apps do not handle odd size screens, therefore they would have to keep the retina screen number of dots on any bigger screen, making it 'less retina' than before. That would be a marketing problem if the difference was large.

I've had phones up to 4.5 inches. I also own an Iphone 4, and although we all have our own opinions, but I think that obviously, the internet browser experience, video game, and video experience would be enhanced with at least a slightly larger screen. With that being said, to appease those that prefer the huge 4.3-.5' screens from Android, and those that like the smaller screen of the Iphone, I think that a 4" screen would be a good compromise to make it a little larger, but not make it a behemoth.

I came from a 4.3" screen to the iPhone 4S. An iPhone with a 4" screen would rock. An iPhone with a 5" screen would squeeze the throat of Android and just about kill off RIM and Nokia, in my opinion. There have been plenty of times I'd wished the iPhone had a bigger screen, but my iPad 2 takes care of that need until whatever iPhone arrives in 2013.

What far too many people fail to realize is that different people come in different sizes. I have very large hands. I had an iPhone 3G and liked the screen size and thickness compared to what was available at that time. I switched to an HTC Incredible and could not bear the thinness of the device or the narrowness of the screen when in portrait mode. My hands are far too big for that, so it was essentially unusable. Then I moved to a Droid X, which I hated as a phone, but the screen size actually felt right for the first time. I later went back for the iPhone 4 because I have always preferred the Apple ecosystem, only to find the screen now seems too small and the phone way too thin. (One thing I should also mention is that I put all my devices in an OtterBox Defender case whenever available, which adds some bulk, but still not enough.) I know I'm in the minority on this, but I would love it if Apple brought a 4" or 4.3" screen, and added a little thickness to the device so I feel like I'm actually holding onto something, and so I won't feel like I'm accidentally going to crush it. I'd be willing to sacrifice a little screen resolution for a larger screen. As has been previously stated, browsing, social networking, and gaming would all benefit from a larger screen. And I really don't think anyone who wears adult sized clothes should have any problems fitting a 4.3" phone in their pocket.

Exactly. It's a matter of personal preference. I have big hands too and would welcome a 4" screen on the next iPhone. No single screen size is ever going to be THE perfect size for everyone. Tho I think 4 inches would be pretty close to an ideal size that most if not all people would be happy with, as long as the overall dimensions of the iPhone remain more or less the same. I'd be happy with an iPhone the exact same dimensions as the current 4S, but with a 4-inch screen (less bezel around the screen). That way it could still fit into existing docks and cases. I'd hate to leave iOS, as it has worked pretty well for me thus far, but if the next iPhone doesn't get at least a 4" screen, I simply won't be upgrading to it. I'd just get a Nokia Lumia 900 or something similar.

Having said all that, I don't think the screen size on the next iPhone will change at all, and I believe it will be even thinner than the current model. It's disappointing, but I'll still get one, because I believe they are the best phones available.

I prefer the current size. And yes, I've used smartphones with larger screens. Don't mess with the perfect size (iPhone 4S sales tell the story!). And don't try to fit a larger screen on the current size because that will kill the bezel which is VERY important for gaming in landscape mode!! Apple has all these variables factored in! DON'T pretend that you know better. You don't! Let Android play bigger is better. And let Apple play better is better! nuff said. done.

I switched from a Droid Incredible 2 with a 4" screen size. I love the iPhone but miss the bigger screen. They could easily upgrade the screen size, without upgrading the phone size. My DInc2 was nearly the same hardware size as the iPhone. I don't want a bigger phone, just a bigger screen, which is easily attainable.

Lol, you fanboys will be saying the size is the best thing ever if they change it.
Anywho. coming from a Galaxy S I think a 4'' is the best size. I've also used an EVO. A bit too big for practical purposes. I think they should have a 3.9-4.1 screen size on the new iPhone. My 4S is a bit small for me.

Usually I do not read article on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to take a look at and do it! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thanks, very great article.