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5.1 inch smartphone screens too big for most users

For the past few years, screen sizes on the major flagship devices have been increasing. In response, I’ve written about the death of tablets due to large smartphones, but when it comes to screen size, how big is too big? Last week we asked our users what their preferred smartphone screen size is, and here are the results.

display sizes teaser 2

Unsurprisingly, only 4% of our sample wanted to see a smartphone screen stretch longer than 6.1 inches. Once devices get too big to carry comfortably in a pocket, they tend to go down in popularity, which is why the news that Samsung might release a 6.7 inch Galaxy F (Alpha) has caught me off-guard.

At the other end of the scale, we saw the next lowest score in the 3.0 to 4.5 inch category with 13% of the votes. It’s difficult to cram the best technology into a small shell, so getting great hardware into a device that has a sub 4.5 inch screen is very difficult. Also, as most users prefer a larger display (we'll get to this momentarily), there is little incentive for manufacturers to make great devices in this category. (Though I’m sure there are some, so let me know the best smartphone with a 4.5 inch or smaller screen in the comments below!)

Between 4.6 and 6 inches is where most manufactures have traditionally targeted their flagship devices, and here is where we see the biggest numbers on our poll. So which came out on top?

androidpint screen size survey 2

54% of those surveyed prefer their smartphone screen size to be between 4.6 and 5.0 inches, which I find quite interesting. Looking at the flagship devices from Sony, Samsung, and LG this year, all of them feature a screen size above 5 inches, and clever design from LG has made a huge screen fit a handset that feels much the same in the hand as any other high-end smartphone. So why are users favoring the (slightly) smaller devices screens in the 4.6 to 5.0 inch category? If you can shed some light, let me know in the comments below.


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  • You wanted to know best phone under 4.5 inch - well, sony xperia z1 compact - 4.3 inch.

  • An extremely narrow side bezel and a curved back cover make for a very maneuverable and accessible device.
    My LG G3 (5.5") feels only slightly larger than my 2 year old, just off-contract, HTC Titan 11 (4.7") and is also lighter.
    Having more screen in proportion to actual body size just makes sense..period. Up to a point.
    No way would I go back to my previous 'tiny' iPhone 3gs or the more recent Blackberry Z10, regardless of how good they were, in their day.

  • Babs Aug 10, 2014 Link to comment

    I had to chuckle while reading this article. Even with a 6-inch screen, it'd be no fun with partial sight struggling to try to see text, etc. Google and developers, your smartphones, OS and apps all need to be much more usable by persons with vision loss. Until then, I'll stick with my dumb phone and surf on my large external monitor. I dislike the walled garden but must say that iOS is far ahead of Android in this (accessibility) department. And, this market is growing rapidly with all of the seniors aging and acquiring impairments.

    • It's a shame that you think iOS is beating Android in terms of accessibility. It's an area I know very little about but I'm disappointed to hear this :(

  • imanitta Aug 10, 2014 Link to comment

    i was happy with my note2 but i bought sony xperia z ultra huge the beginning i worried that it will be dificult to carry a 6.4 inch but its thin light and very comfortable for my eyes..i still wonder why ppl dont like this device

  • The problem is that most manufacturers are so obsessed with thinness that they don't want to pack high-end hardware into a smaller device.

  • My1 Aug 6, 2014 Link to comment

    I see it this way:
    The screen size is not important to the matter, but rather the actual measures of the phone. Qnd for me it goes no wider than the Galaxy note line...
    Especially since 5.1 to 6 is quite a large scale...
    When I first bought the note 2, I had it about 5 minutes in my hands before I needed the Huawei Ideos x3 for backupping purposes and I thought "omg did the screen of the ideos shrink" (ideos has about 3.5 or alike...)

  • I have no problem with a Smart Phone that is 5 to 5.5 inches ....

    I can even fit this size in a pocket (AND use with one hand) ....

    A screen that is larger? This seems to be more of a Phablet sized screen (which means two hands are required, it does not fit in every pocket) ....

    I think this comes down to personal preference (AND - if you're still using Apple - a screen that is 4 to 4.5 inches is your only option) ...

    Love my MOTO X (4.7 inch screen)

  • I've been using the Nexus 5 since its launch and I don't want to go above that screen size. Every time I move my hand up the device to reach the upper left corner I feel like I'm going to drop it. I hate having that feeling.

  • 4GIVON Aug 5, 2014 Link to comment

    I prefer a 4.8ish phone because I cant one hand operate anything much bigger than that. My thumb cant reach the other side of the screen on the big phablet phones

  • I am 60 years old and I currently have a Foxnovo 5.5 inch which is a copy of the Galaxy Note 2. I find it excellent to use as I am getting older and my eyesight is deteriorating. I started my smartphone ownership with a Nokiia 5800 and moved on to a larger screen with the Galaxy S2. On my next upgrade I decided to try a phablet just as an experiment so went for a cheap version just in case it was to live in a drawer because it was too much to carry around. I have had this for over 9 months now and I have never found it either too big or heavy to keep it with me wherever I go. It also has a cheapo flip case which makes it even bigger but it fits in my pockets with no trouble and I am now so use to it that thinking of going back to a smaller screen just doesn't enter my head. On my next replacement I will definitely be considering a 6 inch but certainly not anything less than 5 inches.

    • Hey Steve I'm glad to hear that the bigger devices are working out for you. I'm still not sure if I'd be happy to carry a phone with a 6" screen in my pocket all day, but I appreciate a big screen can be very useful for users like yourself :)

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