Size Matters: A Smartphone Comparison

Ok, time to finally buy a smarthphone. In my search for the perfect phone, I wanted to understand why the Apple iPhone maintains such a large share of the market despite the many competitors out there now. How is it that one phone, by one manufacturer, can maintain 44.9% of the whole market- over all other phones!?

First, its not raw processing power. The HTC Rezound has dual 1.5 ghz Snapdragon CPUs, the Google Galaxy Nexus has dual 1.2 ghz ARMs, and the LG Optimus 2X has dual 1.0 Nvidia Tegra CPUs (the first dual core phone). The iPhone has dual 800 mhz A5 CPUs.

Second, its not screen resolution. While the iPhone 4s has 960×640 pixels, other phones also have this display quality, such as the HTC Evo 3D (960×640). The HTC Rezound has a 4.3″ 720×1280 resolution.

I’ve come to a simple theory to explain it – the physical size of the device. Here is a comparison of phone designs based solely on size:

The larger phones, such as the Motorola Droid Razr, are almost tablets in their grandeosity with dimensions of 69 x 131 mm. Yet they are still also used as phones. The Apple iPhone 4S and HTC Incredible are compact, with sizes around 58 x 116 mm, making them easy to hold as actual phones. As mentioned, it is now possible to get high performance (CPU) phones in all sizes, so the deciding factor for me was phone size.

Now, one would argue that the Google Galaxy Nexus and Droid Razr serve a slightly different user, that of the programming power-user who enjoys a phone with the heft of a tablet. However, take look again at -all- the Andorid phones here. If you are a girl, which are you most likely to choose? I’d suggest the driving factor behind the Apple iPhone 4S success, from a purely physical perspective, is that the size, sleekness, and interface are elegant and compact.

Just look also at the marketing campaigns for the “Droid”, “Galaxy” and “Incredible”. The names themselves connotate an excess of masculinity, and the sharp, large-digit numeric calendars of the phones reflect a hyper-attention to information. The Droid advertisement is a pure exercise in robotic utopia; d-r-o-i-d. The iPhone is called an “Apple”.

Please don’t get the idea that I am an Apple iPhone 4S supporter. Because the iPhone is the elephant in the room, so to speak, it has used its power to make a phone that is fairly antagonistic toward developers. Its proprietary OS, and closed app store, make it very difficult to develop for. In addition, the 2010 decision to drop Flash support for the iPhone has created major headaches for programmers (more recently overcome by Adobe AIR). Finally, Apple charges high fees to carriers to support its phone (iPhone Kills Carrier Profits), which ultimately result in a loss to all consumers – such as no more unlimited data.

What I’m suggesting, instead, is that Motorola, HTC, LG, and Sony are all missing out on a really great opportunity here to design non-geeky, small, nicely designed phones that aren’t for the ubernerd. A recent article (Women want Apple’s iPhone), supports the notion that girls prefer the iPhone, but not to such a degree that I would expect – 31% of women prefer iPhone, while 28% of men do. The fact that the iPhone maintains a 48% market share overall suggests that smartphone users, overall, like its compactness. Of the smartphones I reviewed for this article, the smallest one was the Apple iPhone 4S — it is smaller than all other modern phones I could find. When you hold it, it feels sleek, compact, and phone-like. I considered the HTC Incredible, which is very close in size, but it’s now 2 years old and not a high performance (single core). Ultimately I think I will get an HTC Rezound, because of the 4G, dual-core… But I have to say, I wish I could get an Android phone at the size of the Apple iPhone. It just doesn’t exist yet.


2 Responses to “Size Matters: A Smartphone Comparison”

  1. admin says:

    After writing this article, I learned of a very nice site for comparing phone sizes:

  2. Guido says:


    Interesting synopsis. I would also like to submit that ease of use, operational/functional speed, and seamless integration with proxy networks all combine to strengthen the iPhone’s hold on the market share. In my own experience I have noticed that my 2 year old iTouch is still far more responsive than my brand new Kindle Fire HD, even though the Fire has “faster” internal components. Granted, they are not in the same product family (other than their touch interfaces and app-based schemas), however to your point, I find myself defaulting to the iTouch when productivity and business application is required, while relegating the fire to my “toy” bin. I DO prefer the smaller form factor and pocket-transport simplicity of the iTouch to the larger Fire in general, though intended use and task requirements also factor largely into my decision as to which unit to utilize based on need.

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