Soon after Apple announced its new range of iPhones on September 13, I spent the day contemplating my trusty iPhone 5s. A little tired-looking, perhaps, and with hardware leagues behind the likes of the fresh XS, it was — and still is — a capable phone. And that's exactly why, less than a week later, I was dropped $260 on an iPhone SE.
Yesterday, Apple treated the world to a trio of shiny new iPhones, and while it's nice to see Apple lean into the big screen trend with the iPhone Xs Max and provide an (almost) bezel-less phone with Face ID that's actually kind of affordable in the iPhone XR, something big things were happening behind the scenes.
I'd love to make the case that loads of people want 4-inch smartphones. But I can't. Apple made the argument years back when it unveiled the iPhone SE — essentially a 6s in a 5s chassis, minus a few bells and whistles.
But it doesn't hold as true now, with figures suggesting the iPhone XS Max is selling way more than its smaller counterpart.
And there's no need for me to wax lyrical about the SE's one-hand friendliness, or its affordability, or the power it packed into its compact frame. Those topics were done to death within 24 hours of Apple cutting the SE from its lineup.
There's only one reason I made the modest upgrade from my 5s, which, other than a temperamental battery, worked perfectly fine on iOS 12: I want a phone, not a compromise.
And that's what all these big-arse phones are. A compromise between a communications device and a media consumption one. And, to be fair, we do consume a lot more media than we used to.
But if I want to watch, say, the new Marvel trailer, there's no way I'm doing it on anything smaller than a tablet. And even then, I wouldn't be happy about it. I'm not addicted to the "I must see it now" attitude, and have no great wish to experience the latest entertainment via a small screen (that an extra inch or two does nothing to help) and tinny speakers. I'm happy to wait a few hours and watch it at home.
Yes, I browse the web and yes, I play the odd game. Heck, I watch GIFs and videos. But for anything serious — movies, TV shows, etc. — why the heck would I subject myself to anything other than a proper TV set or desktop?
The sad truth is in two or three years, I might be faced with a hard decision — move onto whatever gigantic phone is Apple's pride and joy or... turn my eyes to Android. Which I'm not at all against, despite what I've said in the past.
Even then, the Android options for 4-5 inch smartphones aren't that extensive, with only Sony's Xperia XZ2 Compact in contention. And that doesn't even have a headphone jack. What has the world come to, seriously?
Perhaps, come the 2020s, there will be a return to smaller phones, once the RSI has completely set in. A recognition that one should be able to pocket a mobile, rather than be forced to carry it in some dedicated vessel. A desire to hold one's phone in a single hand, and be able to use it fully.
I know this future is unlikely, but I live in hope — for myself, and all the other 4-inchers out there.
Stop giggling, you know what I mean.
As someone who has not only owned some form of hand-built computer since age 15, but worked at a PC enthusiast magazine for five years — including being editor of the darn thing — why on Earth am I using an iPhone 5s and before that, an iPhone 4?