Large phones are fine, to each their own. But some of us what small phones. And I have large hands, but I want to be able to comfortably use a phone with one hand.
Typed in iPhone SE.
When I'm out, I'm just sending messages. Maybe a bit of maps and occasionally Safari. But all of my proper browsing is done at home, on an iPad or my Mac. When I'm out, I'm out. The phone is a tool, it's not the thing I'm doing.
Outside of HN, I don't know anybody with an SE.
We seem to be in the same boat for phone use. For me, I only use my phone for a handful of things
* basic browsing
* recipes while cooking
* some music and audiobooks (I mostly use a modified iPod 5.5)
* Simon Tatham's Puzzles
* clearing my mod queue on Reddit when I'm not home
I'd love to see Apple's market research behind the SE to see if our use patterns are normal for fellow owners.
I think the're many more like you, and that Apple is aware of it. My theory is that they don't want to cannibalize watch sales, or basically regard the watch or wearable market as their future, and the Apple Watch as device to cement their leadership role in this market early on. I mean it works for them, they are the number one wearbales brand now.
It's not only watches, the're the headphones and maybe AR glasses in the future, a distributed wearable system if you'd combine them. That's where things are going I think.
If the'd have continued pushing sff phones (pocket watches), their real watches might not have gotten this traction.
A watch OTOH is something that you can have right there for just about any activity and which can alert you even if a phone is tucked away someplace. I tend to also agree that AR, better conversational interfaces, etc. will probably make wearables more capable over time.
Some popular designer jeans can't fit anything much bigger than the SE into their front pockets. It might seem crazy, but the're people who buy the phone that fits into their favorite jeans vs. the other way round.
We're got super-thin "foldable" OLEDs.
Why doesn't anyone make a phone with a RIGID, super-thin, fold-up second (or third) screen?
Bending is a gimmick. Being able to epoxy a super-thin panel onto a carbon fiber shell? Game changing.
I'd gladly take a phone that's SE-sized x 3 widths, with borders between the screens. Better yet, accordion it so I can just use the top panel if I don't need "all screens".
Having a tiny phone that could be unfolded on-demand would appear to solve everybody's problem.
With this, I think you're onto something. So long as what I see isn't uploaded anywhere, I can't wait for AR glasses. I'm horrible with names, so some form of [completely invasive] facial scanning would be a god-send. And if not that, at least some sort of AR where I can slap a name tag on someone at a function.
I feel you, because I have the same feeling about many mass produced products. I find that the real problem with phone and electronics is that their nature prevents the development of "artisanal" alternatives, which, market-wise, are the only option that can takle the need of a small pool of users like in your case.
The decision by Apple is either based solely on making more money short-term/mid-term while ignoring a part of their customer base, or waiting for the right entry point with introduing a new bigger full screen but overall smaller model.
Many things Apple did in the early days weren't making sense from a market standpoint, like giving away software for free. At least that's what MS would have told you at that time.
That's why it's hard even for Apple to really price in the economic long-term cost of not supporting high-income and higly influental niche groups - there isn't only monocausality to consider when calculating ROI.
I like smaller phones, so we'll see how much people care about them now that the iphone 8 is the smallest good phone apple sells. Am hoping they do make a smaller iphone X style phone, but....we'll see.
Btw, for anyone reading this, popsockets go a long way to making larger phones more comfortable.
The SE was not a cheap phone. It might be considered so in some high-income bubbles, but for most people it isn't/wasn't.
In the US, that’s a cheap phone.
There was a period where storage was doubled, but IIRC it seemed that options went down again in the SE (maybe when the price dropped)?
It's relatively powerful in its price class, and not too large — perfect for kids.
I have, use and like a small android phone called "unihertz jelly pro", small enough to fit in any pocket and good for my use. After a while with that phone, using a phablet one evening was an absolute eureka moment. I was looking for some sort of product, and on the phablet all the photos looked good. Inviting. Desirable. The whole phablet was fun in a way the small phone wasn't.
After that experience, I can understand that people reach for the big phones in the shop, even if some of them may really want something different in the long term.
And I can understand why retailers stock the phones they do. The phone where instagram looks good is the phone with the right first impression, and one has to optimise for getting the goods out the door.
(http://rant.gulbrandsen.priv.no/unihertz has blah about how I tweaked the phone, if anyone cares.)
Also, even if a smart car would be more convenient for almost everything you do, it won't work for some weekend trips, so you buy something bigger -- there's a bit of that going on too, I think.
It's a nice phone to have in your pocket with the screen off, so you can run instant-message apps, can phone your ex or optionally other people, can run 2FA apps, and so on and so forth. It's not a nice phone if you want to have the screen on.
Unobtrusive and within reach: Yes. Use very much: No.
Some chinese companies that tend to throw shit at the wall to see what sticks are better positioned to do that, but chances are that you'll get a subpar product you won't probably like using, let alone buy in the first place.
Last but not least, the existence of a niche of consumers is no direct indication that such niche will actually buy the product they think they want. This is why a lot of startups fail despite the fact their product should theoretically sell like hot cakes.
I use my watch mostly at work for 2FA and to passively monitor my notifications. When I need to respond, I'd rather use my phone, so adding cellular to the watch doesn't really add much value for me.
"I just got this 18 months ago" I said. It's a 64g SE. She just laughed - "OMG - I couldn't even imagine using that. What is that? An iphone 4?". "An SE, " I replied, and she just had a weird look on her face. I wonder if they'd used numbers on that model instead of "SE" if it would have stuck in peoples' minds more?
It was such a strange thing - 18 months ago was still in her lifetime, and ... I'm not using a Palm VII or some obscure 80s retro thing - it's a damn iphone from 18 months ago, and she genuinely reacted like it was some piece of ancient technology.
She showed me her iphone 6. I showed her Live Pictures on my SE, then commiserated with her that her 'bigger' 6 couldn't handle what my puny "old" phone could do.
Teenagers... youth is wasted on the young :)
I tried an LG G5 for a while but couldn't handle the larger screen.
It's not iOS, but I got a Sony Xperia ZX2 Compact as a replacement and I find that it struck exactly the right balance between enjoyable screen size and being able to operate the phone with one hand.
Also, Apple tried going down the web app route long time ago, would be great to see them revisiting this idea in a year or so.
Thing will get very interesting very quickly once WASM 2.0, basically, is created and it support is around 90%. But before that, it's kind of early to declare victory :)
I'd argue that most apps are rather passive when it comes to displaying stuff, don't have to crunch numbers and don't manage a lot of data. So an 80s BASIC engine would be enough for it, if the APIs are done well (or 90s Tcl/Tk).
Games are an entirely different matter, of course. I don't see a lot of stuff in between.
But then that will be completely inaccessible to screen readers and other assistive technologies.
• one device = biggest phone
• two devices = 13/12 laptop or iPad Pro 12 + medium phone
• three devices = 13/12 laptop, iPad 10.5 + smallest phone
• four devices = three devices + watch / AR glasses
It does not take a genius to see that the iPhone SE form factor is the logical choice for Apple customers with three or four devices. These are the customers spending the most money in Apple's ecosystem.
In the absence of a product visionary at the helm, large companies may want to ask why US/EU customers purchased a product developed for the Indian market. Abandoning emerging markets' low-cost phones does not require abandoning the global market of customers buying a coordinated portfolio of fit-for-purpose devices.
On a secondary footnote, the creation of "Screen Time" is likely a pre-emptive defense against future lawsuits for smartphone health consequences, ranging from eye health to psychological effects on developing brains.
What reduces screen time? A small phone like the iPhone SE that can still be used with headphones for audio. So there is a legal argument to be made for small phones: the presence in a corporate product line allows liability to be shifted to customers — if you suffer negative consequences from screen time, you should have bought the small phone to discourage screen use.
On the other hand, if companies only offer large phones, and we find out years later that they knew the health risks of excess screen time were increased by large phones, they would have contributed to the problem instead of possible solutions (like the iPhone SE).
Overall a win/win for people who get pulled too much into social media.
Other than Apple itself, market data on cross-device ownership would be hard to obtain, since the iPad is the dominant tablet. By definition, it would be a subset of the larger smartphone market. But the adoption behavior of this subset has strategic value to Apple, since it could extend Apple's iOS and phone silicon investments to compete with Intel in laptops.
A hypothetical (2018? 2019?) "always-connected iOS laptop" would again alter device portfolios.
Apple setups I have observed users be happy with:
- 15" laptop, iPad Pro 12, largest phone, watch
- 15" laptop, largest phone
- 15" laptop, medium phone, watch
- 15" laptop, smallest phone
- 13" laptop, largest phone
- 13" laptop, smallest phone
- Largest phone, watch
- Largest phone (nothing else)
- Smallest phone (nothing else)
That is, if you have an 12" iPad Pro, you're unlikely to also have a 12" MacBook, as they're devices of similar size and portability, and for "normal" people, also similar capability.
However, a phone is a different portability class. You have a phone with you at times where you do not bring an iPad. No amount of devices will help me when I do not have them with me. Even if I am at home, my phone is in my pocket, which an iPad, laptop or desktop never will be.
Therefore, I believe that the question is more about preference than about device overlap for phones.
But yes, you are right—anecdotes and opinions, rather than data.
But I think this tends to better explain why mini tablets aren't especially popular than anything about phone size. Large or small, phones are still a pocketable device that people have with them much of the time. I use my phone a lot for things that I could, in principle, do better on some other device but that other device either doesn't have a cellular connection or it's just not with me--even if it's just up in my office.
The multiple device market may provide more revenue per customer, but they definitely don't provide more total revenue than the single device market.
To play devil's advocate: You could also buy an Apple Watch, and only use your phablet when you absolutely need to.
If the Apple Watch meets all your use cases, it is the preferred option to reduce sceeen time.
If you need intermittent, short and all-day business critical mobile access to an application or web browser, a small "phone" (mobile computer with radio) is the device which currently supports the most use cases.
The established term for a phone with that functionality is "feature phone". In fact, it's even in the URL:
There are people who don't own a desktop or laptop at home, or if they do, they use it very rarely. For them, their phone is their primary device, so it makes sense for the screen to be large enough that it's practical and comfortable to use for long periods.
I see others using tablets with a keyboard or the surface pro with a stylus but I don't like the form factor which I have to carry in my hand but not in my pocket. Considering a switch to Samsung Note 9.
However iPhones (and some Android handsets too) do support HDMI over their data port. You'd need to buy a cable but they can be got for ~£15 (though you'd be looking more at £40/£50 if you want an official branded one - but I've found 3rd party dongles generally work just as well on iPhones).
I probably use it once a month. The input latency and the small size (compared to a notepad) prevents it from replacing the spiral notebook I carry.
I also understimated how much I'd hate the samsung crap that's installed, and the edge to edge screen is more trouble than it's worth--I'm always accidentally clicking something while holding it.
The SE was far from a failure.
So I can only conclude that the makers would prefer everyone on larger phones for some reason.
The SE was far from a failure not because of the size, but because for the first time it let people into the iPhone realm at a much lower price (without being just an old phone with a lower price). It had the "new" tag on it, although it was basically a product that Apple could generate by mixing up a couple of production lines with much lower assembly costs. By any measurement, the iPhone SE is an old and technically lacking phone with a superior and hyper-sticky software ecosystem. It was also the workhorse of carriers who could sell expensive plans with a lower device subsidization fee.
Apple's marketing is best in class when it comes to framing the complexity of market tactics and vendor-carrier relationships within a simple and clear narrative. The underlying mechanism are still as intricated as they can be.
Almost no one wanted headphone sockets actually removed because anyone who actually wanted bluetooth already had the capability, and countless surveys reveal a wish to keep them. Most recently Oneplus finding 80%+ of their customers wanted to keep it, so their next phone removed it. Almost every company has now followed suit, so it's damn clear they are not researching the market, unless it's to ascertain the extent of what they can get away with.
Same with Google+, almost no one wanted it, yet for several years there was insistence one would have it.
So I maintain the presence or absence of a product or service is often little or nothing to do with market sales. Or one can believe in perfect markets and perfect filling of opportunities.
I love my SE though. Battery is so much better than I've been used to.
My own circle of friends and their families must be ridiculously unrepresentative because the SE seems to have an outsize presence, and there's remarkably few huge flagships of any make. There's a couple who still hope every year that Samsung see sense and bring out another S Mini.
If they bring back an SE-sized device it will be a high end one, a X SE for example with the screen size of the iphone 8 in an SE-sized body. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them launch that within 6 months and as a current SE owner I would definitely buy it.
On the basis of what?
If I believe it is true that the world is flat then someone may reasonable ask what the basis is for that belief.
Give me an example of a belief with no basis at all.
Spiritual and religious people give reasons and justifications for their beliefs all the time. Have you never heard an argument for why the universe couldn't exist without a god? Surely you're aware of all the arguments made in things like the philosophy of religion?
Even if a belief feels to you to have no basis that doesn't mean there isn't one. People often claim that their intuition about something has no basis, but it's actually that they don't have a consciously-accessible basis -- there's all the actual things they subconsciously picked up about, say, the person who seemed shifty, and all the subconscious mental processing that leads to that feeling.
And they're ultimately all baseless.
EDIT: I also get the feeling that bigger phone means more features and longer battery times because of the extra space for electronics and the battery. Who knows, maybe if I held a 4" that's fast with a lot of memory and long battery life, I could get accustomed to seeing less content.
There's also the fact that website layout is determined by the website developers. I wonder how good the layouts are generally on the internet for 4" screens. It might be that many websites have fixed width side margins that cause a bigger whitespace-to-text ratio on smaller screens.
The 5s has the venerable status of being not only small, but one of the oldest currently-supported smartphones. At over 5 years old, it can still run respectably with iOS 12.
For me the difference is the SE simply fits the hand better. My other half would be even more vocal on that point.
So if the choice becomes 5.5" and larger or nothing, we'll probably be ex-smartphone owners. Speaking for myself I'd go feature phone before I'd "go large" again.
Cell phones were initially huge. Actually, first they existed as "car phones". They were heavy boxes the size of a big bottle of laundry detergent, bearing a handset with a number pad. They operated on AMPS (analog mobile phone service). After that cell phones then became smaller and more portable, but still huge, resembling household cordless phones. There was a race in the 1990's and early 2000's for smaller and smaller phones. Having a smaller phone than the next person was a status symbol.
Smartphones have disrupted that trend, because small touch screens suck. The trend has not entirely been disrupted: smartphones cannot be too large. Then they turn into tablets. And, thin matters, still.
If the cell carriers did something crazy like not letting us browse the internet through their network (or charged us $1k+), phones would likely small and forgettable.
I've been looking forward to that phone because their ethos seems to be in line with what I want: all the "directed" tools you want (phone, text, contacts, alarm, maps, Uber/Lyft, etc) but nothing that lets you get into "mindless scroll" mode like social network apps or a browser.
I recently got a Nokia 105 (2017) for my parents as the bespoke charger on their old phone broke, and it was cheaper to get a new phone. I played with it a bit, and as far as a phone goes it's top notch for making calls, but the lack of even basic apps like maps or messaging (other than SMS) make it pretty limited.
The phone has a grand total of 4MB of RAM in contrast with the latest smart phones which have up to 6GB. Android is too bloated as an OS for feature phones, but I'd love to see a new platform come out designed for limited RAM (maybe a few hundred megabytes) which it's easy to develop apps for, yet still produces devices that last for a week or two on a single charge. In developing countries these phones are still pretty popular, and from the comments people are posting here would go down pretty well with the HN croud.
I had a couple of what you could call a "smartphone" before "smartphone" existed (Sony Ericsson P900/P910), which anyway had a battery that normally lasted a couple days.
I have an (ageing) Samsung Note, but what I now use daily (since a few years) and carry with me at all times a Nokia 1280:
I can make and receive calls and SMS', it is tiny and extremely robust, it has been dropped countless times without any damage (shell and battery just "explode" and you have to find all the pieces and then reassemble it), battery lasts days, it simply fills most of my needs, without having to carry with me at all times a (bulky and fragile) smartphone.
Curious to hear what carrier you use it on. 2G options in the US at least are severely limited.
China will probably come out with similar clones before long... maybe even before the original:
Instead of complaining, why not just go buy a small phone? I thought people in here knew better than to complain without doing any research.
Then there's the notch. Come on, that just stupid, just add the 4 or 5mm of bezel a the top, it's fine. Why would I need the extra two top corners of screen, the screen is big enough.
(Battery life might not be all that much better since the display of a feature phone is going to be used far less than a smartphone, but the readability certainly can be.)
Fix (1) and (2), maybe (3) and then we're talking.
If they made a small phone like this with a fat battery (not because I'd use it a lot, but because hotspotting takes a fair bit of juice) I'd use it as my main phone.
Then carry something like a Microsoft Surface or convertible Chromebook in my bag, which you can easily whip out if you need to use Google maps or something that favours a bigger screen.
Seems like a no brainer when the traditional laptop category is going more portable with convertible form factors, and tablet are getting even better at productivity. But maybe I'm missing something :\
Also, I use my iPhone more like a PDA, the telephone feature is used lesser and lesser. And if I do use it to do phone calls I do it in combination with my AirPods while my iPhone is in my pocket. And in that case perceptionally my AirPods + Siri ("Hey Siri, call my wife") are my telephone.
The way I see it a small(er) phone or even a small dumbphone makes sense for people who use their devices mainly for doing phonecalls.
Having said that I must add that going for a run with my iPhone 7 Plus is cumbersome because it's too bulky. I need it to listen to music while running. Cant't load music on my running watch from Garmin (Fenix 5)
Then you should be able to get a $49 feature phone as a spare, or for when you don't need a big phone.
(Yes, you can kludge this up using Google Voice, or Twilio, or running Asterisk on your home Linux server, but it needs to be easier than that.)
Why would a carrier offer for free something they can easily monetize? A proxy for this would be how Verizon charges customers a monthly fee for the "soft" sim present in Apple watches.
It's not "no extra charge" -- you pay an extra $10/month. But you get a traditional full-sized smartphone, and an additional small "Palm" phone with limited screen size and features, running on the same telephone number, with no extra setup or services required.
It has a LTE radio in it. Battery life is not going to be fine. The 80g phones of the '00s era with 2 week battery life are just a fond memory. The technology is degrading over time.
Having said that I'd like to know if this small phone is a success or not. If no one buys it then maybe everyone is happy with phablets.
There are a couple niche small phones out there but they all insist on using a software keyboard that is _amazingly slow_. Typing is basically the thing that needs to work as fast as possible, otherwise it ruins the experience.
Almost no design is trying to acknowledge that the idea of a high-end small phone might be appealing to people (despite Apple having evidence with iPhone SE sales being decent enough).
In a world without all the apps, designing something almost ground up would make a lot of sense, since Android isn't meant to fit on such a small screen anymore.
I have some really weird wishes for a new phone. Something like the Nokia 104, but with 4G and wifi for tethering support. Oh, and a Google Authenticator app, for work.
If possible I would also like the option of having an Linux or Mac OS app for writing SMS messages on my laptop, so I can have a real keyboard.
For what you describe in your message above, have you thought about buying a laptop with built in SIM card support or alternately USB 4G SIM card modem?
It is truly abysmal. Can it even last a full day being idle?
Contrary to what people may think, it's not the screen that consumes the most battery (unless actively used) but the radio.
They could reduce it all the way down to a "Jitterbug", and the problem would still be there.
im okay with a smaller reddit is fun app.
I’ve recently bought another Lumia 930, brand new, for $100…