Sub-4″ iPhone 5 Screen Separates Apple From The Pack

iphone 4 screenMore rumors suggest that the iPhone 5 may indeed turn out to sport the same screen size and form factor as the iPhone 4. If Apple chooses to stick with a sub-4″ screen, it’s because they believe that “smaller is better.”

If you were to surf all of the articles and comments about the iPhone 5 and its screen size, it would seem like a no-brainer that Apple would jack up its dimensions to match those of its trusty Droid competitors. After all, 2011 seems to be becoming “the year of the big screen” when it comes to smartphones. And yet, in the midst of immense pressure from its customers to redesign the iPhone 5′s form factor and equip it with a 4″+ screen, all of the purported evidence and best guesses from analysts suggest that Apple isn’t buying it.

The iPhone 5 may very well turn out to look exactly like a metal-backed iPhone 4. No big screen.

According to DigitalSpy, “Apple will not increase the screen size of the forthcoming fifth iteration of the iPhone to compete with the next generation of Android devices, an analyst has claimed.”

Apple enthusiasts often seen Cupertino’s unwillingness to go with the flow of public opinion of certain design considerations (such as the addition of Flash or an earlier adoption of NFC, for example) as a flaw in the company’s otherwise stellar track record; some would say Apple has a tin ear on what their users want, when should have something akin to a LiquidMetal ear, and follow the prevailing trends in smartphone technology.

But for as much as Apple’s decisions and non-decisions sometimes seem inexplicable when compared against the tack of the technology sector, they have turned out to be one of the most successful companies in the world for delivering products to their customers. Strangely, sometimes what Apple users want isn’t what they get, but in the end come to love.

In other words, sometimes Apple knows best.

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In the case of the iPhone 5‘s screen — if Apple ends up opting for the iPhone 4′s screen and form factor — then it remains to be seen if that choice was based on a design preference or a business decision. From a business standpoint, getting more mileage out of the iPhone 4′s radical design would mean that Cupertino could perhaps invest R&D resources elsewhere, ceding the fact that no improvement in the iPhone 5′s screen size could alienate a few users, without otherwise affecting the iPhone’s ascendency into becoming the world’s most popular smartphone.

mac classic

Small-screened wonder: the Mac Classic

On the other hand, Apple has been known to dig the small screen.

When early desktop computers were expanding the size of their screens, Apple’s Mac 30, Classic,  and similar computers were utilizing much smaller, built-in screens for a more compact design that ushered in what would become the laptop. The Mac 30 came in a carrying case with a shoulder strap, and you could very easily sling it over your shoulder and take it home from work with you. Sure, the screen was small, but it gave the Mac 30 a versatility that did not exist anywhere else in the early world of computers. And once you sat down and started working on it, you quickly adjusted to the screen size.

Is it not possible, then, that Apple has something to say by not bumping up the size of the iPhone’s screen, should they decide to pass on a 4″+ screen? Much in the same way that Steve Jobs rejected the QWERTY keyboard for the iPhone, perhaps the design team at Cupertino simply believes that smartphone screens ought not to be that big. There is, after all, a huge gap in screen size between the iPhone and iPad.

Maybe they want to keep it that way?

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By Michael Nace

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