July 19, 2012 at 5:32 p.m. PST
Much speculation surrounds the new iPhone. Most tech analysts and pundits have laid claim that the new iPhone will be bigger than its predecessor. There are many models of Android and Windows phones that boast larger displays (and larger everything) than the iPhone. Apple has always designed the smallest devices possible — even something like the Apple TV 2, which is not portable, is the size of a hockey puck. Is bigger necessarily better when it comes to smart phones?
The Latest Hoax:
The latest speculation stems from an actual Apple recruiting video, posted on YouTube by 9to5Mac (not Apple). The video depicts Apple employees standing in front of a wall of web page printouts. The video is annotated (by 9to5mac) with the message “New, bigger iPhone!”.
This “revelation” about the new, bigger iPhone happens at 1:01 in the video. I watched it like conspiracy theorists watch the Zapruder film, and I don’t see one shred of evidence that indicates a larger iPhone. Once again, we are the victims of blogopshere distortion and punditry. Here is a screenshot of that moment:
Do you see a new, bigger iPhone? I see a blurry photo. Maybe it was just a typo? Was the annotation meant to be “No Bigger iPhone”?
Is Bigger Really Better?
When it comes to smart phones, bigger might not be better. Apple’s designers have always championed the compact form. The iPhone could have been made bigger, with a larger display, however the current size is intentional. It enables virtually every user to use the phone with one hand. You can hold it in your palm, and use your thumb to tap the screen. As a phone increases in size, fewer people can use it with one hand. A smaller phone fits in a pocket better. It would be easier and cheaper to make a bigger phone. Apple has always held back on technology like 4G, because the size of the components, as well as power consumption, did not meet their requirements.
A larger display may require redesigning iPhone apps. The iPhone has a Retina display. Any size increase will surely keep the pixel density at Retina display specifications. This means that existing iPhone apps cannot merely be “zoomed” to fit into the new, larger screen. That will not yield Retina quality graphics. Developers will need to redesign their apps for this new phone. This is not impossible, as developers have been willing to make changes for the Retina display. However, screen size changes tend to wreak havoc, especially for game developers. When you get into the details, simply slapping a larger screen on the device is no easy matter. Forcing developers to fiddle over graphics for each model results in fragmentation, and limits the time they can spend developing new apps. They will need to develop different versions of each app, aimed at each model.
Conclusions can be drawn about the new iPhone, but it is just speculation. So far, no one in the blogosphere has produced concrete evidence that there will be a larger iPhone. Hoaxes and fabrications abound, in order to get eyeballs on web pages (and ads). If Apple increases the screen size of the new iPhone, it will not come at the expense of overall form factor. It may be slightly wider or taller, but not too much. People need to operate the device with one hand. I would expect any increase in width and height would be met with a thinner design. That said, my prediction is that the new iPhone will have the same screen size. I could be wrong. If it does have a larger screen size, it will not come at the expense of the overall size of the device.