But in bounding after large screens, phone makers seemed to ignore the usability issues that accompany them. Small studies have shown before that 4.3 inches is about as big as a phone can get before people start struggling to use it. The time to operate the phone slows down significantly because one-hand use is awkward—and that's for average men's hands. Assuming a normal distribution, for half of men and most women, a phone bigger than 4.3 inches—like the current smallest iPhone—is too big.An informal Twitter survey I conducted (of mostly male users; just how Twitter is) showed about half of people who responded thought their phones were too big.
There are increasingly powerful interests that want us to drop our phones so they can fix them and sell us new ones
"The cell phone repair industry has profoundly grown over the past five years due to several factors, including cheaper and more reliable mobile Internet and the exploding popularity of smartphones, which are more fragile and therefore more likely to need repairs," stated the report. This is to say nothing of how Apple's revenues may have increased over the last few years as it has ramped up its repair and services offerings outside of warranty.Beyond repair transactions, there is the refurbished smartphone industry, where phones may be resold overseas for a profit or stripped for their valuable parts. Gartner calculated that worldwide refurb revenue was about $7 billion in 2014, and will grow to $14 billion by 2017 by handling up to 120 million units. Many retailers, including Apple, will generously accept old phones at no cost to the customer—if the condition of the unit is good, there's a vast market for resale.As I was researching this article, Apple announced a new program that allows users to trade broken phones in for credit toward new models, when it previously accepted only models in good condition. The company is also bringing dedicated screen protector installation machines to stores.Gartner also noted in its report that tech enthusiasts drive most new smartphone purchases, and among them, loyalty is extremely high. When planned obsolescence stops being profitable enough, of course, a device manufacturer does appear to have options, one of which is to make phones that are more droppable and more likely to need servicing. And now that phones have coalesced around this screen size point of 4.7 inches, choosing a different phone isn't a solution for solving any of these attending problems. Everyone wins. Except the customer.
While phone have gotten bigger, they've also gotten slipperier, sleeker, and thinner