Land of the Giants(martphones) – part 2

Land of the Giants(martphones) – part 2Two things smartphone manufacturers are currently obsessed with: firstly, making devices that are anorexically thin, and also churning out wares with seriously massive displays.

Over a year ago, back in September 2011, I penned Land of the Giants(martphones), and I figured I’d revisit the idea, taking a look at the continuing trend for phones bordering on tablet territory (hence the term “phablet”).

How about a little history lesson of sorts, to start off? Before Mobot properly launched, Martin scribbled up the Top Smartphones of 2010, which in itself is an interesting little read.

But what I really care about is the display sizes. Let’s list ‘em:

  • Apple iPhone 4 – 3.5in
  • Google Nexus S – 4in
  • HTC Desire HD – 4.3in
  • HTC Desire – 3.7in
  • Samsung Galaxy S – 4in
  • HTC Legend – 3.2in
  • Samsung Omnia 7 – 4in
  • Nokia N8 – 3.5in
  • RIM BlackBerry Bold 9780 –2.44in (has a full QWERTY keyboard, of course)
  • RIM BlackBerry Torch – 3.2in (hybrid QWERTY slider)

So among the most popular and successful phones in 2010, we were pretty much looking at 3.2in to 4in. Interestingly, Martin notes that the HTC Desire HD stands out with a “whopping 4.3in” display. We’d barely bat an eyelid at 4.3in these days.

Also worth noting from 2010 was the Dell Streak 5, a 5in smartphone that seemed insanely big at the time. Indeed, I remember one Dell Streak 5-rocking colleague being relentlessly mocked – and by tech support nerds at that.


Fast-forward to 2011 and Dell pushed the boat out even further with the 7in Streak 7. Alas, it was discontinued before the end of the year, largely on account of being a bit rubbish (133 PPI, anyone?).

Meanwhile, at Mobile World Congress 2011, Samsung leapt to 4.3in with the Galaxy S II, while Motorola let us play with the 4in Atrix, and LG showed off the 4.3in LG Optimus 3D (sigh).

HTC had a notoriously disappointing presence at MWC 2011, but later in the year we met the 4.3in HTC Sensation, HTC Sensation XE and HTC Evo 3D. Bigger still were the Android-based HTC Sensation XL and Windows Phone-fuelled HTC Titan, both measuring an eyebrow-raising 4.7 inches.

US manufacturer Motorola later stepped it up with the 4.3in Motorola Atrix 2 and Motorola RAZR.

And not to be outdone by HTC’s giant offerings, Samsung grabbed Google Nexus backing and fired out the aptly named Samsung Galaxy Nexus (4.65in) before the year was out, and – more notably – the game changing 5.3in Samsung Galaxy Note.

Oh, I almost forgot about Sony Ericsson (sorry, guys). Their largest effort in 2011 was the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc (and Arc S) at 4.2in.

Finally, Apple held strong at 3.5in with the iPhone 4S, marking five consecutive years at the same size. Great stuff.

Lots and lots of 4.3in smartphones throughout 2011, but a definite leaning towards even larger displays as we headed into 2012.


This year, manufacturers are clearly thinking bigger is better. Among the giants of 2012 are the Nokia Lumia 920 (4.5in), Sony Xperia T (4.55in), HTC One X (4.7in), Google Nexus 4/LG Optimus G (4.7in), LG Optimus Vu (5in), Samsung Galaxy S III (4.8in), Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (5.5in), and – in the States at least – the Motorola Razr HD (4.7in).

HTC also has the 5in J Butterfly in Japan, known as the HTC DROID DNA stateside. In the UK, we’re told to expect it as the HTC Deluxe DLX. More on this later, incidentally.

Samsung Galaxy S IV specs are rumoured to include a 5in display, which takes the Galaxy S series pretty freakin’ close to Galaxy Note territory. Where will it all end?

Strangely enough, Mobot regulars aren’t overly fond of massive displays (with the exception of a few happy Samsung Galaxy Note users).

What do you think? Are you holding out for a 4.3in quad-core superphone, or more interested in a 6in Samsung Galaxy Note 3? Let us know in the comments.

Read more about: LG Optimus VuSamsung Galaxy Note 2Samsung Galaxy S3Apple iPhone 4Apple iPhone 4SGoogle Nexus 4HTC DesireHTC Desire HDHTC Evo 3DHTC One XHTC SensationHTC Sensation XEHTC Sensation XLHTC TitanLG Optimus 3DNokia N8Samsung Galaxy NoteSamsung Galaxy SSamsung Galaxy S2Samsung Google Nexus SSamsung Omnia 7AndroidBlackberry OSiOSWindows Phone

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JanSt / MOD  Nov. 23, 2012 at 13:14

Yep, I remember when the HTC HD2 hit Irish stores, people were saying, never - too big yada yada...

ian2606  Nov. 23, 2012 at 14:29

I'm a happy galaxy note it..........I like the big screen as it's great for surfing web, watching videos (youtube etc), and gaming......

Pondlife  Nov. 23, 2012 at 15:27

Yep, I remember when the HTC HD2 hit Irish stores, people were saying, never - too big yada yada...

Well it is quite a brick for that screen size though

Pondlife  Nov. 23, 2012 at 15:32

As for the dell streak 5 that is still insanely big. Bezel from hell and ate all the pies.

JanSt / MOD  Nov. 23, 2012 at 16:09

Yep, I remember when the HTC HD2 hit Irish stores, people were saying, never - too big yada yada...

Well it is quite a brick for that screen size though

Actually: No, it isn't, I always 'remember' it as that huge brick, but now and again I use my BH's
HD2 and realise it's quite sleek. Height and width is similar to Lumia 800/N9! (those have massive bezels - just cleverly designed with the glass extending beyond the actual screen.

Pondlife  Nov. 23, 2012 at 17:04

I meant the weight is quite hefty for the screen size

JanSt / MOD  Nov. 23, 2012 at 20:21

I meant the weight is quite hefty for the screen size

Aah... true, but, like the N9 (e.g.) it's very well balanced and feels 'solid' rather than hefty/bulky.

capriboycraig  Nov. 24, 2012 at 21:14

I've just upgraded from my SGS2 to a 3 and to be truthful i'm not enjoying the increased screen acreage as much as I thought. For me the S2 was about the sweet spot size wise for a one handed phone.

Pondlife  Nov. 24, 2012 at 21:17

If it's that recent maybe you'll adjust?

capriboycraig  Nov. 24, 2012 at 21:35

possibly, I liked a friends Note and was chasing the noteII myself but the sgs3 price sold it. I just find myself catching the screen / touch buttons all the time with the pad/base of my thumb when using it one handed.

yasir1  Nov. 26, 2012 at 22:43

I've owned a Samsung S3 for several months now and love the screen size and resolution. I can browse web pages in full desktop mode with ease, and the extra grunt from the CPU allows me to effortlessly zoom in/out and pan.

Recently my brother purchased an iPhone 5, and I couldn't help but noticed that even with the extra height, the screen still looked too tiny and underwhelming.

JanSt / MOD  Nov. 26, 2012 at 23:04

Yasir... You discovered that a smaller screen is smaller? Excellent.


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