Forget less is more, smaller can also be bigger

For a long time thin was in. Every new phone had to be thinner than the one before. I'm not just taking smartphones. The Moto RAZR was named that for a reason. Then came Samsung and the original Galaxy Note and bigger became the new better. iPhone Plus cemented that change.

Today, like in men's clothes, the rage is narrow and tall. The new Samsung Galaxy S8 certainly dresses that way. Maybe "iPhone 8" wlll as well.

And sure, those screens are and will be amazing. Bright, beautiful, and perfect — all the things you could want in smartphone screen today.

Unless all that bigness isn't a virtue. Unless you want smaller.

The original iPod gave way to the mini which gave way to the Nano. It got smaller over time, not bigger. Even though the smaller version didn't hold as many songs and didn't have as long a battery life, it became a smash hit. It wasn't the biggest but, for many people, it was the best.

For the last little while, I've been looking for the same thing from a smartphone. A nano, so to speak.

iPhone SE is smaller, and I've talked about my love for it before. But what I wanted to try next was something even simpler. A more elegant phone from a more civilized time, so to speak. Something like my beloved StarTac, which was so small it sometimes got lost in my pockets.

It couldn't be an entirely dumb phone, though. It didn't need to edit 4K video but it did have to offer basic services like WhatsApp. (Yup, I now consider WhatsApp to be a basic service!)

It didn't have to be fast but it did have to last. Maybe, without all that screen space and specs, it could even last for days?

That led me to try out the Posh Mobile Micro X. It's a full smartphone condensed down to the size of an iPod Nano.

I won't bore you with specs. For all intents and geek-purposes, it has none. It runs Kit Kat and will never run anything more. It's not my primary phone and it's not meant to be. It's just what I've been looking for — a small, easy to carry phone, that's always connected but not overly so.

It's got a removable battery, a micro-SD card slot, and — you guessed it! — a headphone jack.

In almost every way, it's the opposite of the new Galaxy S8 and perhaps the next iPhone 8, but that's what I love about it.

Yes, sometimes less really is more. And sometimes smaller really is better.

Michael Gartenberg

I’ve covered the personal technology beat for more than two decades at places like Gartner, Jupiter Research and Altimeter Group. I’ve also had the fun of contributing my $.02 on the topic at Computerworld, Engadget, Macworld, SlashGear and now iMore. Most recently I spent a few years at Apple as Sr. Director of Worldwide Product Marketing. On Twitter I’m an unverified @gartenberg. I still own some Apple stock.

5 Comments
  • I agree with Michael; trends can change. Having said that, I think that we no longer use our "phones" as "phones" like we did in the past. In fact, it's probably silly to even call them "phones" anymore when really it is one thing in a list of 100's that we use them for these days. When you look at them as "smart devices" that you use for internet browsing, games, productivity tools, camera and yes for phone calls, the size comparison to cellular phones like the RAZR or other devices is like comparing apples to oranges. The proof is also in how "phone companies" are now focused on data, not minutes. So yes, because they are mobile and with you at all times I do think sizes and shapes/form factors will change. However, the bigger devices allow you to do so much more with the extra real estate. These devices killed GPS devices, point-and-shoot cameras, MP3 players, and mobile gaming to some degree. Now with the sizes increasing, it isn't surprising they are killing the tablets too. When we finally stopping calling them phones, the size issue becomes less of a problem.
  • I would prefer a smaller phone honestly. Right now I have the 7 plus and it is just too big. But the thing is, I don't wanna compromise on the latest tech and battery life. If I had the option of a IPhone SE, IPhone 7, and an iPhone 7 Plus all with the same exact specs except screen size, I would 100% go with the SE. I would be ok with what is rumored tho for the iPhone 8. A 7 plus sized screen on the body of a 4.7 inch screen iPhone. Sounds like a great comprise for me.
  • I am in a similar boat. That was why I was excited when the S8 came out. I essentially got my cake an ate it. Large screen in a relatively small body. I hope we get something similar in the next iPhone.
  • "Unless all that bigness isn't a virtue. Unless you want smaller." Pardon, but with the removal of the huge bezels, the Galaxy S8 is not that much bigger than the iPhone 4 was, and the same will soon be said for the iPhone 8. "The original iPod gave way to the mini which gave way to the Nano. It got smaller over time, not bigger. Even though the smaller version didn't hold as many songs and didn't have as long a battery life, it became a smash hit. It wasn't the biggest but, for many people, it was the best." A) because the smaller iPods were cheaper, so they were only "more popular" and "the best" in the sense that (often cheaper) Windows PCs are than Macs and (usually cheaper) Android phones are than iPhones. B) because iPods did not need a screen to work, allowing them to be shrunk down to "volume up/volume down/last track/next track/pause" buttons. With a post-iPhone smartphone, there is a limit to how small a screen can be in order for the device to be functional, and another limit still for what can actually accommodate video streaming, web browsing, MODERN email, casual gaming etc. "Then came Samsung and the original Galaxy Note and bigger became the new better. iPhone Plus cemented that change." That is ... hilarious. Samsung, LG, HTC, Motorola, Lenovo, Xiaomi, Asus, Oppo, Huawei, ZTE, Kyocera etc. sold hundreds of millions of phones between the launch of the 4.3' Galaxy S2 - which at the time competed with the 3.5' iPhone 4 -and the iPhone 6. By the time the iPhone 5 came out, the only Android phones with 4' screens were "Mini" models, and even there the Galaxy S4 Mini was 4.3', the size of the original Galaxy S. I suppose the A10 SOC "cemented" quad core ARM processors (4 years after the Qualcomm S4 Pro and a competing Samsung Exynos chip)? Or perhaps the Nexus 6P "cemented" 64 bit phones with fingerprint scanners (2 years after the iPhone 5c)?
  • I want a 7 inch bezelless iphone.
    In this day and age when u do allmost annything on your phone (compose and read emails, ppts, pdfs, surf the web, watch videos or movies, play games........) and more and more dust gets stuck on our desktops or laptops; every now and then a moronic idea comes up with some special followers that want a smaller phone.
    SERIOUSLY??????????????????????????????????????????????????
    Do u want to destroy your eyes before u hit 40 ?