Why The 4.6-Inch iPhone Won't Happen

No — stop it. Close that tab. Stop reading that. The Apple rumour de jour — a 4.6-inch iPhone 5 — is the same reheated broth some filthy cook serves yearly. It wasn't true last year, or the year before. Here's why it's still BS.

Reuters, usually a staid, reliable entity when it comes to not spreading gleeful crap rumours, dove headfirst into this one:

Apple has decided on the bigger 4.6-inch display for its next iPhone and started placing orders to its suppliers, the Maeil Business Newspaper said, quoting an unnamed industry source.

Oh, well, in that case! But beyond the complete baselessness of the report, there are good reasons why this thing rumour is hot, sweaty air, regardless of source.

The Terrifying Ghost of Steve Jobs

Jobs decided the iPhone would be 3.5 inches six years ago. Every single iPhone has been 3.5 inches. Every single iPod Touch has been 3.5 inches. Apple, even under the competent Captain Cook, would make customers and investors alike nervous once they started to stray from the Jobsian Plan for The Universe.

3.5 Ain't Broke

As it exists now, the iPhone (2G, 3G, 3GS, 4, 4S) fits perfectly in your hand, whether you've got bigger than usual mitts or baby hands. The entire screen and home button can be struck by your thumb alone. It's just big enough for movies, perfect as a camera rangefinder and perfectly comfortable for casual reading. It'll also fit just fine in your pants, no matter how skinny. There's just something optimal about 3.5 inches. We know it, and Apple knows it. For a company with such monastic dedication to consistency, this isn't a factor the company is likely to start screwing with — especially with an inch-plus increase. So what's Apple's incentive? Why alter a form that sells millions upon millions every single year?

The Source and Timing Are Suspect

To say the least. Let's reiterate: this rumour has come out of a Korean newspaper with no Apple track record to speak of, citing an "unnamed industry source" about a "second quarter" launch that makes no sense. Apple is going to release a new iPhone 7-9 months after the last one? Nuh uh.

Why Join the Size Race?

As our pals at FWD pointed out, as phone manufacturers come out with ever-expanding displays, we're approaching a Phone/Penis Singularity. Just like computers used to slap each other back and forth over speed, phones now race to out-big each other, but bigger has by no means proven to always be better. Conceding anything close to this would put Apple in a pissing contest, rather a city on a hill.

Photo: Techblock


Comments

    Who the hell watches movies on a 3.5 inch screen? 3.5 is not optimal at all. I can't wait to upsize my galaxy s to something bigger.

      I don’t get your point? 3.5” is not optimal for watching movies but 4.6” IS optimal for watching movies?

        His point is...
        Making the screen bigger is better.

          Exactly - he may be upsizing it to a puny 62 inch plasma

          HaHa Thank you Tobi. That is my point exactly.

          Except in many cases it isn't.

          4.6" still sucks for movies too anyway.

    I watch movies on my iPhone. That's who

      bro gt a ipad for movies u fool n ur not awesome

        Bullshit, he is awesome. How dare you question his awesomeness.

        This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

      So do I, every now and again on long car/plane trips. If I did this more than once a year then I might buy a dedicated device for it, but I see no point in spending $500+ otherwise.

    Watching movies is basically the only argument for making the screen bigger. I personally like being able to use my phone one handed.

      I like being able to use my penis one handed... But there's no shame in having to use two.

        Which just comes to prove that some people believe the size of your screen somehow reflects how big you wish your penis was.

        Functionality is primal. If you want to watch movies on the go, get a tablet of any kind. It will do the job.

      Um, I actually find the biggest thing is reading web pages, it's quite painful on my iphone 3gs, and I know it's better on the iphone 4/4s, but it's even better on the various 4.3-4.8" screens, which actually fit in my hand better as a fully grown male...

    Just upgraded from my iPhone to a 5:3 3.7" phone, width of the screen is exactly the same, but the length of the screen is longer with the length and width of the phone being pretty well the same.

    Much better than 4:3 iPhones.

      The iPhone's display is a 1.5:1 (3:2) aspect ratio, not a 4:3 aspect ratio. The iPad has a 4:3 aspect ratio.

        The iPhones aspect is terrible for video. Any video either has big black lines, or needs to be zoomed cutting the sides off.

    I think the iPhone is about the right size, but can't they make the screen stretch a little closer to the edge like a rumour mentioned months ago? Watching movies on your phone should be a rare occurrence. Get a laptop or a tablet if it isn't. Whatever happened to those bendable screens the Japanese were making? One of those flipping out of your phone would let you watch your movies.

    I believe we will see a 4.6" iPhone with all the iPad mini rumours. Why make a whole new product when they all ready have a mini iPad that is the iPhone iPod touch. Just make the screen bigger and stick 3G in the touch and there you go, a iPad mini.

      if the iPad mini comes out, it almost certainly will be a lot larger than 4.6". something like 7" - 8" would make more sense.

    I wish the Android manufacturers would start thinking like this! Seriously, 4.7" screen? That's f'ing stupid! I'd buy a high end 3.5" Android phone any day over a 4.7" phone.

      totally agree. It's crazy the size of android phones. It's a phone damn it. I hate lugging around a big handset, but this is the sacrifice I make for having better performance. If you want a smaller phone you really end up limited in the other specs of the phone. My thumb was aching after the first week of getting my htc Sensation, and when I pick up my old Nexus One out of the bottom of my desk draw, I always feel a little sad.

        Here here! I've been waiting for the HTC One series and was really excited when I saw the specs on the XL that Telstra are getting, especially as it's 4G already, which is great cause I work in the CBD. It's polycarbonate, like the Lumias (seeeexy) and it has a glorious screen and ICS, with Sense 4 so good!....that was right up until I found out it was BIGGER than the Galaxy Nexus...wtf??

        Now I have to decide if a cool build and 4G are worth putting up with a screen I'd be lucky to fit in the biggest pocket I've got....not to mention ALWAYS having to use 2 hands on it.

      I thought like you once, then I bought the Galaxy Nexus (Ok, 4.65", but close enough) and I don't ever want to go back! In the end it comes down to preference. Some people like the 3.5", some like 4"+. It's a good thing that Android is offered with a variety of specs, because it gives consumers choice.

        This. Galaxy Nexus looked enormous to me when I first got it, but now I can't go back. It fits fine in my hand/pocket and I have a big pretty screen for youtube videos or playing games.

      Meh, 3.5? It's too small for browsing the web (if the site isn't mobile) it's too small for movies (as discussed above) it's too small for long emails.
      I think there's a good reason Android manufacturers don't bother with a screen that small in their high end phones, they leave screens that small to their toy phones.

      Yes because anyone that doesn't agree with your opinion is stupid.
      I went from a 3GS to my current HTC Incredible S and I can never go back to 3.5". It is just way to small.
      In fact I wish my screen was a bit bigger.
      However, having said that I have played with a Nexus and I think that may be a bit big. It seems unbalanced when in hand. 4.2 or 4.3 inches seems about right too me.
      Although I could get used to the Nexus. Having that much screen real-estate is pretty sweet.

    To all the little handed people out there, stick with your puny screens. I just moved from the iPhone4 to the SGS2 and am loving it.
    I never thought I'd say it but cya Apple... the last few years have been fun, but I am shallow and wanted more screen space. :)

    4.3 is about right still using with one hand, 3.5 is way to small and just doesn't cut it anymore.

    For those of us without tiny hands...

    Keep talking bout screen size cos its easier to hold but they could maximize screen size within same dimensions as the handset. IMO it would be stupid to say the 3.5 is the iPhone screen size and that's all itll ever be. Apple making a stand just because they're stubborn would make sense this. Hope its their downfall. Apples way or the highway...eventually hopefully people choose the latter. Maybe they'll call it IPhone Air. Half the thickness. Maximum screen size.

    I just want it to be thinnner with rounded corners and metal back. an iPhone version of the iPod touch 4th gen would be my perfect phone.

    4.6" ha ha, maybe slightly bigger and thinner but that is all. Stay under 4" please.

    Agree. It's going to be 3.5" for a very long time, perhaps forever. It makes sense.

    The next bigger thing, for watching movies properly and playing games properly, is the iPad. Another "perfect" size thing.

    Sure, you can happily watching movies on the iPhone, many people do.. I watch movies on my 4.3" SGSII happily and 3.5" isn't all that much smaller when it comes to watching movies.

    The only thing I could possibly see happening is a 7" "pad" coming out.. and even then I don't see it as very likely... however if they wanted to bring out a halfway point product, 7" (or more likely some weird 6.4" or whatever they decide is the perfect middle size) would be the way to go.. though I'd think they would brand it within the iPod Touch range rather than a iPad mini.

    I think Apple must first introduce a big screen ipod touch as trail and if it is success then try it on iPhone :)

    "And man was never meant to fly" either... Whatever, just stupid, fannish rationalisations for an arbitrary value. Things can change.

    Overall ergonomics is much more important IMHO than screen size. Recently had to use my old Nokia N97 Mini (3.2" screen) again and despite the smaller, lower res resistive touchscreen, and physically thicker design, I was surprised to find the thing easier to handle than my HTC Trophy. It's still inferior in many ways, but the fact is that when it comes to "in-hand comfort" (i.e., ergonomics) the N97 Mini wins.

    Screens are important of course, but there's a lot more to it and iPhones are very "holdable"

    I have smallish hands and the Galaxy Nexus is a perfect size for me, the screen is amazing (iPhone users I work with always comment on the screen) it did take a little while to get used to the size from the Nexus S but its great now. Sure I can't touch every corner of the screen one handed but its rare that it actually matters. Also its bigger (height and width) but thinner an lighter than the iPhone 4, I don't get why Apple bother with the metal design elements, every iPhone user I see has it in a shitty plastic case anyway.

    Please bring out a 10" screen, I've been wanting to make my pant pockets bigger for years.

    4.6" is not pretentious enough. It'll be 4.57" or something like that.

    Im happy with the dimensions of the iPhone.

    It can sit in my pocket paralell to my wallet.

    As someone mentioned before, I would like it if the bezel was reduced, but I don't want to sacrifice screen size for an increase in actual width.

    How many articles will Gizmodo publish in the coming months speculating on the size of the next iPhone's screen? A butt load i'm betting.

    Nokia N9's 3.9" was perfection. :3

    Not sure why there's a picture of the Galaxy Note as has a 5.3" screen not 4.6".
    After having that 5.3incher in my hand there's no going back now.

    I'd like to see them go to close to 3.8" to 4" if they can do so without increasing the size of the device...just shrink the bezel. They could probably keep the same resolution too without any real noticeable drop in image quality.

    Not a huge jump, but it keeps the device the same size and gives you a bit more real estate for web browsing etc without requiring developers to re-release apps for a new resolution.

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