2014 in Cupertino, California, on that colossal screen watched by millions were the words “bigger than bigger”—Apple’s simple and already iconic slogan for the iPhone 6.
The pithy, concise catchphrase is significant. If you haven't yet heard, the two screen sizes for the new iPhone—4.7 and 5.5 inches—are larger than any previous iPhone display. Many mobile phone companies are moving towards larger screens. Samsung, Apple’s biggest competitor, has a plethora of phones with five and six-inch displays.
"Phablets" is the new coinage for the nearly-tablet-sized phones that are challenging our understanding of cell phone use.
Big displays, small hands
People with larger phones do more mobile Internet browsing, according to a recent report—so increasing the iPhone screen size will likely help Apple save its declining mobile browser share.
But the move away from tiny cells (Does anyone remember the Motorola RAZR?) is also effecting how we interact with our phones—most notably how we hold them.
An extra 0.7-inches of display creates space for better photography, videography and gaming, but also makes one-handed use more difficult. Large phones could decrease now-popular “thumbing” of text and icons.
Last week an Atlantic article also pointed out that bigger phones could be problematic for women, who typically have smaller hands—though for that most mobile phone companies have found a solution. Samsung Galaxy Note II users can enable “One-Handed Operation,” and the iPhone 6 has a similar function, which temporarily re-configures the display to make icons easier to reach.
Different direction, different experience
Another mentionable feature on the latest iPhone is horizontal texting—an addition that’s testimony to what veteran designer Steven Hoober from Mission, Kansas articulated.
Hoober spent two months at cafes and airports, on trains and buses examining how people hold their phones. In total he observed 1,333 people—and his findings were noteworthy.
“The way in which users hold their mobile phones is not a static state,” he wrote in the article. He says users change the way they hold their phones every few seconds. It all depends on what you’re holding and, if you’re moving, how you’re moving.
What does it all mean?
Essentially, advanced horizontal functions on the iPhone 6 don’t mean vertical use is yesterday’s news.
“Bigger than bigger” phones (or should we say phablets?) are simply encouraging the birth of a mobile experience characterized by versatility.
GenesisXD, an Experience Design firm, helps our clients stay ahead of the curve with interactive mobile apps for marketing communications.