Hey, what's wrong with a small iPhone?

Is Apple an oddball because its phones continue to be relatively small? It's a stance that seems to run counter to Android smartphone design trends.

Brooke Crothers
Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
2 min read
iPhone 4S.
iPhone 4S. Apple

Is a bigger iPhone a better iPhone?

The iPhone rumor du jour this week was about a big screen. In fact, "iPhone 5" rumors going way back almost invariably cite a bigger screen. Sizes run the gamut from 4-inch screens to 4.2-inch to, now, 4.6-inch.

The iPhone currently has a 3.5-inch screen.

And that's just fine with me. A smartphone should be as small as possible. Certainly not BlackBerry Curve small but not so big that it isn't compact. It's a phone, after all.

The brave new big-honking-iPhone world that Reuters claimed is coming (only to be shouted down and debunked by Apple blogs), isn't one I'd necessarily look forward to. I don't need to haul around something brushing up against the mini-tablet category (e.g., a Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket). I have a real tablet for that.

Though I may be in a minority with this opinion.

That's not to say Apple can't do better. After all, there are large tracts (relative to the size of the iPhone's face) of do-nothing plastic on the front of the iPhone (see photo above) that could be better utilized as screen real estate.

And that's not to say I'd object to a slightly larger iPhone. But I'd be perfectly happy with an iPhone 5 with essentially the same chassis and the same Retina display, but with an edge-to-edge screen all around.

So, here's my question, is it retrograde for a smartphone to be small? (And note that the latest rumor says the next iPhone's screen size won't change). Should Apple worry about defying a big-screen smartphone trend in the Android world?