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Why today's smartphones are so big?

A big smartphone and a small smartphone side-by-side

This is one of the questions that will come to your mind if you are holding a smartphone with a 6.9-inch screen that weigh 210 grams. A device with such specs would not be called a phone twenty years ago, but here we are. While modern technology are making some device to be smaller, more compact, and lighter, it seem to be the other way round for gigantic handheld mobile phones of today.

Smartphones have come a long way, way far before Android came onboard, but the structural changes, technical changes, and the improvement in functionalities over the years have affected how today's smartphones are made design-wise. These days, manufacturers see phones as gadgets and not as handheld mobile device, thereby changing the perception of people about "what a phone is" and "what a phone can do".

Basically, a phone is a portable handheld mobile device that can be use to make/receive calls and send/receive text messages. But as years passed by and latest tech inventions manifested, things began to change. The introduction of internet, the development of powerful chipsets, and the creation of advanced operating system specifically designed for mobile changes the definition of what a phone is and what it can do.

There are countless of things we can now do with our smartphones - we can take amazing pictures, stream high-quality audio, play graphics-intensive games, do video chat, and lots more. But size is a limitation that phone manufacturers are willing to sacrifice to improve functionality and usability.

Multitasking on a smartphone with a tiny screen is unrealistic since all phones now use touchscreens by default, hence the necessity to make the screen larger. Moreover, the big form factor of today's smartphones have to do with the size of the battery they packed too.

Three reasons why today's smartphones are big:

  • For better multimedia experience
  • For better multitasking experience
  • For better battery life

The need for superb multimedia experience has driven the screen size of phones to be made larger, hence the increase in phone size since the size of the screen affect the size of a phone. In recent years, people no longer buy phones just to make calls or to send text messages, but to also watch movies, play games, take pictures, listen to music, and do other stuffs. In fact, multimedia enjoyment have become the major reason why most people buy smartphones.

Since all the viewing, tapping, zooming, clicking, and dragging can only be done through the touch-responsive screen, a larger screen is needed for better multitasking. It is more convenient to multitask on a large screen phone than on a small screen phone because there are more rooms to do multiple actions and to use gestures without being limited by the size of the screen. For instance, using three-fingers gesture will be much easier on a phone with a large screen than on a phone with a small screen.

The big form factor also provide more space for manufacturers to fit in larger batteries to increase battery life, which is of great importance to many phone users. We now have phones that packed as much as 10,000mAh battery. Apart from the battery, there is enough room for manufacturers to fit in more hardware for additional features that may be of great benefit to users.

The change in size brings some inconveniences however; today's phones are no longer compact. They are becoming more of a burden to be carry around because of their mammoth weight and size. They hardly fit into pocket anymore. They are getting bigger as each year passes by. For instance, Samsung's newly-released Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a larger 6.9-inch screen and a heftier weight of 208 grams compared to last year Galaxy Note 10+ 6.8-inch screen and 196 grams weight.

Improved functionality, better battery life, improved multimedia experience, and enhanced multitasking at the expense of big form factor seem like good trade-off for some users, but not to many.



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