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  • 1 Post By GodShapedHole
  1.    #1  
    Warning: too long post ahead.

    A friend of mine recently bought a Galaxy Tab (old-school, not 10.1) in order to use it as his cellphone. You read right: not his tablet, not his accessory, but his full-time cellphone.

    I've since played around with it for some time, and while I was previously of the firm opinion that 7" tablets, while certainly an attractive option for many people, weren't for me I am not so sure anymore.

    More importantly, the experience of using the Tab for a while has made me rethink screen sizes entirely. For me, the problem with screen sizes has always been that they're inherently a trade-off - and I'm notoriously bad at trade-offs and compromises.

    I have a few requirements to my phone in terms of hardware size and shape.
    I want it to be handy and feel good because I know I'm going to use it a lot.
    I want it to be powerful because I'm one of those crazy people who were using smartphones in 2001 when they were positively detrimental to your popularity (I know I'm sounding like a hipster here) and if there's one underlying reason why anybody would've done that, it's a desire for something "powerful" in the sense of "helpful". This includes the question of how comfortable things are to read.

    I have a lot of other requirements, but those are the two things I want out of hardware design at its most basic without looking at details or frills. And there's the trade-off.
    Assuming equal pixel densities, a big display is obviously going to show you more at the same time as a smaller one. That's a good thing. A big display makes for a bigger device than a smaller one. That's a bad thing.

    I find the 2009 Pre, for instance, to be a fairly good trade-off. It's very small and feels very nice in your hand. Because it is smaller than, for instance, a 2009 iPhone while having the same screen resolution, the screen is crisper and more beautiful. Some people don't like hardware keyboards; I say to each their own. I like them very much, and consider them a boon in usability because I write a lot. (I'd say about three quarters of my posts on PreCentral have been written on my Pre. I have Forums, love it, but always end up just using the mobile forums anyway).

    I love the Veer because it manages to be marvelously useful while being so incredibly tiny that it does, in fact, look like a toy. But it's no toy. It's a really, really good smartphone I wouldn't hesitate to call high-end. It's a high-end tiny smartphone and can't have all the things that are in a high-end huge smartphone BECAUSE THEY WOULD NOT FIT but it's still high-end in what it does and how it does it. Farhad Manjoo recently wrote about Flash in restaurant websites, saying that Flash is a poor choice because of the mobile web: Apple is unable to implement Flash at all, and everyone else can't run it fast and smooth. He obviously never used a Veer. My girlfriend's Veer runs Flash videos absolutely smoothly. Tiny and as powerful as something that tiny can possibly be = win.

    BUT here's the catch. While both the Pre and the Veer are awesome, there is something undeniably attractive about a bigger screen, and this isn't even taking pixel densities into account - obviously a bigger screen with a higher pixel density is a double boon.
    The thing is that in my opinion, the size and unwieldiness of a 4" display phone like the Galaxy S outweighs the benefit of the added screen real estate. I realize that this is a completely subjective opinion of mine that may not be shared by a majority. Hence the thread title, "My take on device sizes" (emphasis mine.)
    It feels bulky in my pocket. It feels bulky in my hand. Too bulky to let me enjoy the bigger screen, because the screen isn't big enough to make me forget about the bulkiness.

    In my eyes, there is a sweet spot somewhere around 3-3.5" where the screen is just big enough to be nice and to allow for a device just small enough to be nice as well. I fully acknowledge that there is something to be said about having more screen to display things on - and that's where my recent Galaxy Tab experience comes in.

    7" is terribly unwieldy for a phone. My friend obviously doesn't share my requirements to a phone and doesn't care about pocketability and only cares about raw display "power" in the sense of "usefulness" - a huge screen can show huge amounts of information. Having used the Galaxy Tab for a while, I can absolutely sympathize. It's awesome. It solves the huge problem of virtual keyboards, fingertaps touching multiple keys and requiring algorithms to predict which key you meant to hit and, ultimately, through predictive text, even what you meant to write by allowing the keys to be large enough, and the GAPS between them to be large enough, for you to be able to hit keys with ease.
    It just can't be pocketed. It is, as I said, terribly unwieldy (and it should be noted that I believe my friend to be one of maybe two people on God's green Earth to actually use a Galaxy Tab as their regular everyday telephones). That is, it CAN be pocketed, but that doesn't mean that you'd want to. Having that in my pocket for an hour would be hell. All day every day I can't imagine.

    BUT. I can't say for sure because I've yet to hold one, BUT I feel that if you made a device just a bit smaller, maybe 6", maybe only 5", maybe somewhere in between, and managed to make it relatively slim with good ergonomics, that phone may just be pocketable. You'd feel it in your pocket for sure, but you'd be able to get it in there and get it out there. And because it's so big, the screen would still display a marvelous amount of information and allow for a usable VKB.
    It'd be bigger than a 4", but I don't think it'd be a lot less bulky in my pocket or in my hand. I don't know, but I imagine that a screen of such a size would be so enjoyable it would make me forget about how bulky it is.

    I'd really like to try out a Dell Streak, just to see how 5.0" feels (although from pictures, I'm not sure if the Streak is ergonomically pleasing to hold and use). Maybe I'll take some clay and make a 6.2" (to allow for bezel) rectangular slab with rounded corners and edges. Because after seeing that 7" tablet, I now have the notion that there is a second, larger screen-size sweet-spot somewhere between 5-6", where the display is so big that it's really like reading a small book and just small enough to be pocketable.

    This isn't actually webOS-related, but something concerning smartphones as a whole. While it's true that 4-and-change" smartphones are currently the most popular, I argue that at least some of that popularity results from the fact that you can get a powerful phone that's also large, or you can get a small phone but it's not powerful. There's basically no middle ground on the market today. The Veer is a small phone that's also powerful, but reviewers smashed it, saying "it may be powerful but it's also small so it's not powerful because powerful phones have to be big". Other people are kind of like my friend, only not as extreme: they don't care about pocketability as much as they do about the amount of information that can be displayed.

    In my subjective opinion, 4" is in an uncanny valley between two sweet spots: one that's easy and nice to pocket and hold and just OK to read, and one that's easy and nice to read and just OK to pocket. Here in webOSland, we've had the first sweet spot since the beginning, and are about to move closer towards the upper limit of the sweet spot with the Pre3. I'd LOVE to see how webOS 3 would handle on a slab from the second sweet spot. What do you think?
    FischOderAal likes this.
  2. jdlashley's Avatar
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    I'm not sure about that; after using the Evo 3D, it seems like a very good size for a pocketable phone.
  3. #3  
    I too think that about 3-3.5 inches is the sweet spot for smartphones, just like 13 inch is the sweetspot for laptops (if you go higher it's more of a desktop replacement imho).

    That's why I fear that the Pre3 might be too big for me as well. The Pre- has good dimensions and is easily pocketable. Even though I do notice it in my pocket when I'm for instance riding my bycicle. And my trousers have a loose fit and big pockets

    With the Veer being 170-180 Euros, I think the best solution is having a Touchpad and a Veer. However, I'll have to see whether it's gonna be 10 inch or 7 inch. I'm not sure yet.
  4. #4  
    Watch how you go rounding the corners on that clay model. You might get a letter from Cupertino.
  5.    #5  
    Quote Originally Posted by threed61 View Post
    Watch how you go rounding the corners on that clay model. You might get a letter from Cupertino.
    this just made my day
  6. #6  
    While I like Pre's compact size overall, the 3.1" is a tad small but I do not want a phone the size of an iphone, and surely not the likes of Evo, Infuse, and other ridiculously sized megalodon phones. If they can keep the overall size the same as the current pre, reduce depth, and then reduce bezel area to incorporate a bigger screen, then it's jackpot for me. Understandably, Samsung's 2012 phones will have ultra-thin bezels. As much as everyone loving gestures, this is where gestures hurts b/c of the required bezel area.

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