Poll: How important is one-handed ease of use to you on the iPhone?

Let's keep this one short and sweet -- on the iMore Show tonight I argued with Rene and Seth about how big the next iPhone screen should be.

Rene doesn't want it much bigger than 4-inches so he can reach all the corners with his thumb and use the iPhone with one hand when he needs to. Seth was in the middle, willing to deal with an iPhone that was over 4-inches but not by too much. Me, I want the biggest screen Apple can put on an iPhone without making it a phablet (yeah, I said it!) My hands are already too small to reach every corner on an iPhone today, and I don't mind one bit that I have to use a second hand to do certain things at certain times.

I also want the same 3:2 aspect ratio to remain the same. I realize that's not likely to happen with the 16:9 rumors running rampant, but I don't just want more pixels on a screen with the same density. I want a bigger screen so I can see it more easily too.

Apple will do what Apple will do, but what about you? If you could have it your way, how important is one-handed ease of use to you compared to the benefits of a bigger screen? Vote up top and give me the reasons why below!

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


Senior Editor at iMore and a practicing therapist specializing in stress and anxiety. She speaks everywhere from conferences to corporations, co-host of Vector, Review, and Isometric podcasts, and should be followed on Twitter @Georgia_Dow.

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Reader comments

Poll: How important is one-handed ease of use to you on the iPhone?


Wow....you know what they say about guys and small fingers, right?

It's just mind-boggling how many people so far want a runt sized screen. It's just blows my mind.

I wonder if it is because they already own an iPad that they really dont need a larger screen?

And on that Note 2, I will be getting the Samsung Note 2 when it debuts this fall. Good bye Apple. I will still use my iTouch and my partner will use the iPad to show off pictures and to play games.

Wow, you know girls use the phone, too, right? And that most of us have smaller hands, right? I want a phone with a not-rediculously-huge screen because 1) I keep it in my size 4 jeans pockets and 2) I use it one-handed a LOT. I barely scrape 5 ft tall, so I struggle as it is with this phone. Part of that is due to the glass back. I love me my glass back, but it's just not practical. If they were to put a slightly textured back on, I could go bigger... but I need that one-handed use. It's a deal-breaker without it.

Being able to have it fit comfortably in my pockets is more important than one handed use to me. One hand ability is a close second though.

I'm with you Georgia!
If we don't get a genuinely bigger screen, I'll pass. The rumored same-width-but-taller screen won't cut it for me.
I'd rather keep the current size than go tall and skinny.
If the current rumors turn out to be true, I'll be deciding between a 2nd hand 4S or an Android phone.

I hate to break it to everyone, but smartphones have NeVER been one handed devices and that started well before the iPhone. This whole "it MUST all one handed operation" was an old fanatic defense made up by message board junkies who were scrambling to make up excuses for why the outdated 3.7" screen was still being used when the industry moved on.

When iOS users finally get to try the OS on a bigger screen they will be pleasantly surprised at how much easier a bigger screen is on the hands and eyes without adding as much bulk as people may think. Less typos, easier reading, more accurate copy/paste and fewer misfired app launches. And finally all this garbage about the importance of having your thumb hit end to end will finally be proven to be an excuse and not a fact.

When it comes to size, fitting comfortably in a pocket is the most important factor to me. The last thing I want is for it to become an inconvenience to bring my phone with me, everywhere I go, every time. I like to walk with my hands empty. I don't like stuffing my phone in a bag either, and while it's fine for girls to throw it in their purse, the last thing the world needs are man purses designed to hold an iPhone that got a little too big for its britches.

One handed use is very important also. The convenience of using one hand is just key, and is a big reason I don't hesitate to grab my phone to check on anything, anytime. In my opinion, the most well designed apps are those that have been designed with this in mind.

I could go either way on aspect ratio I suppose, but given the debatable advantages I don't think they'll shake up the dev community by doing this, flood of rumors or not. Another small point to consider is this: if they change the aspect ratio, how will it impact running iPhone apps on an iPad on 2x mode?

Especially if Apple brings out a 7" iPad, I don't see any reason to focus on increasing the iPhone screen size. A small change maybe, but I'm perfectly content with the screen size as is. I'm a guy right at 6' tall too. The current size just feels... well, right.

A 7.x" iPad mini is the only reason Apple needs to *not* make the iPhone screen bigger than 4" diagonal. Whether or not it's 16:9. Because it will sell like hotcakes at $199 - $249.

There are precisely two reasons why Samsung (and whatever other Android hardware makers are left) are shipping grossly oversized Android "phablets":

1. Because they know Apple doesn't need to make them, and
2. Because Android iPad clones aren't selling well enough.

That's it. Isn't it glaringly obvious?

If you can't use a "mobile" phone with a single hand, it's not a mobile phone anymore. Smartphones, however smart they are, are still mobile phones. Unfortunately, and pathetically, many Android phones have giant screens that make these phones hard to use with one hand in their desperate attempts to stand out from iPhones. And because these unnecessarily giant screens are compared to the iPhone, the iPhone screen looks inferior to some ppl. I mean, duh? Of course bigger screens with high resolution look better. But in fact they are cheating on customers. When the customers actually use these Android phones day to day, they find that these are not really mobile phones. They are more of downsized tablets with call and SMS functionalities. So, I think one handed ease of use is something mobile phones must have to be mobile phones.

They are still mobile phones. I guess you don't consider bb mobile phones since they are designed to be used with 2 hands yet don't have huge screens. Smh

I think they are referring to basic navigation. The only thing you should need two hands for is typing efficiently, IMO.

I have an issue with the new screen ratio. I was hoping for a bigger screen, mostly to make room for a slightly larger keyboard for typing my emails. But if Apple only stretches the screen in one direction, the keyboard will stay the same size, which is ok for the English keyboard, but for other countries with a few more letters in the alphabet, the keyboard is just a little too small.
I know what you are thinking... Why don't you just use landscape mode, where the keyboard is bigger? That keyboard is too large and awkward for one handed typing, and landscape is useless for reading emails. I also have screen rotation locked in portrait mode, for reading emails before I get out of bed in the morning. And it is a bit of a hassle to be turning it on and off between reading emails and answering emails.
Really hope for a bigger screen, BUT KEEP THE CURRENT SCREEN ASPECT RATIO!

Also have an issue with the new numeric keypad in the phone app in iOS 6. Hate the looks of it, both the new colors and the way the green call button no longer fills its space in the grid. It's just plain ugly. Hope Apple reverts back to the old looks or find a new look that's better.
Literally hurts my eyes to type in a phone number in iOS 6... LITERALLY ;-)

i want a four inch screen but i don't care about one handed use. i simply don't want a big ass phone that's uncomfortable in my pocket.

I am with you, Georgia, a tad bit bigger but same ratio. Just taller and not going wider is going to degrade landscape typing, IMHO.

So currently the majority, that's 37% of voters state that a one fingered approach to iPhone use somewhat important. Personally I would like to see a little more iPhone real estate, slightly longer and a touch wider, not not lots. The beauty of the iPhone is that it goes everywhere with you and over sizing it, to the point where I need a man bag doesnt appeal. I find for most non phone use, using the iPhone a one hand approach works well. Gaming and photo editing are better using all those digits.

Try my blog too at tiny.cc/SimplyApple

I've got a 4S the screen is big enough for scrolling and one handed use. But a 4 inch factor wouldn't be bad. Even 4.5 inches would be good cuz it's really not that big. I tried the S3 and if you use it it's not that big. Apple will figure out a way to introduce a new screen size and not screw consumers and developers.

Larger screen, please. I find the current size too small for many things I want to do on the iPhone.

I completely believe it's time for 2 phones from Apple - one that is the normal 3.5" size (or MAYBE up to 4") and one that is larger (4.5" or so). I don't understand why that would be a problem.... It's not like Apple would lose customers... :-/

I use it one handed when I'm in a rush to get something done, like finding a document I need in iWork, or sending an iMessage. However I would much rather have a larger screen 4 inches is the sweet spot I think; not too big and not too small. The problem with all the largerandroid phones I found is that they are all really flimsy. If you tried hard enough you could crack the screen with your hands,.

Who cares about 16:9 on a small phone anyway?? How often does anybody watch a movie on their phone to care if te aspect ratio is true? I guess we should expect a tinny sounding Dolby Atmos system in our phone for the next iteration... If the rumors hold true, I'll think about entering the olympic Javelin with that long ass sucker

I only have fine motor skills in one hand so I actually prefer a smaller screen. I had an EVO4G with a 4.3" screen and much prefer the size of my iPhone 4S screen. If the iPhone goes larger I'm not sure what I'll do. Maybe I just won't upgrade until my 4S dies.

I think I could get use to a bigger screen. As for being able to reach across the device with my thumb, I don't think that will be an issue for me. I have have pretty big hands, but if I can't reach a certain corner I just scoot the device farther from my palm and more onto the bottoms of my fingers. To me it's just as comfortable, and I have a farther reach, so i think I am ready for a bigger screen, be it only longer or overall bigger.

Where does it end? At what size does a mobile phone cease to be mobile? I prefer the current size as it is very mobile and can fit into a pocket.