Is 2016 the year of smaller smartphones?

We look at where the average smartphone size is heading...
Is 2016 the year of smaller smartphones?

The last time we talked about the perfect smartphone size, we said that the days of teeny phones were long gone.

But did we speak too soon? Because there are rumours flying around that the next major smartphone release is expected to be one with a mere 4-inch display. And make no mistake, this is from a leading manufacturer.

Plus, there are other rumours that Samsung might be about to announce a Galaxy S7 Mini with a 4.6-inch display.

The question is, will these phone releases start a trend towards smaller phones in 2016 and beyond? Let’s take a look at some recent history, and we’ll try and work out where our phone sizes might be heading.

Having it large

Samsung started the trend for larger phones, when it introduced the first of the Galaxy Note series back in 2011.

Its screen size was a massive (for its time) 5.3-inches, and it was a huge worldwide hit.

After a short period of resistance, other phone manufacturers decided to up their game and increase the size of their smartphones too. In the past five years, the average screen size has slowly but surely increased from 3.5-inches to 5.5-inches.

And if that wasn’t enough, some manufacturers have tried pushing things even further. We’re looking at you, 6-inch Nexus 6…

Small is beautiful, too

Flagship phones with large displays are the ones that capture our imagination, but they’re not about to replace smaller phones any time soon.

In late 2015, a survey of U.S. smartphone users revealed that 20% of them actually preferred a smaller handset, in the 4-inch range.

This isn't surprising. There are lots of very good reason why someone would prefer a smaller phone over a larger, more powerful version.

  • Comfort. Especially if you’ve got small hands and you struggle to use a large phone with one hand.
  • Convenience. Smaller phones fit more easily into a bag or pocket.
  • Battery life. Lots of compact phones can last an impressive amount of time, thanks to their reduced power usage.

In the UK, customers have a great choice of phone sizes, and compact designs remain popular. Major manufacturers still regularly come out with great little smartphones like these:

Samsung J1 4.3-inch display

LG Leon 4.5-inch display

Lumia 550 4.7-inch display

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact 4.6-inch display

Smaller? Bigger? Can’t we have both?

If there's going to be a trend for smaller smartphones, it hasn't affected big devices just yet. None of this year's flagship phones have shrunk down in size when compared to their predecessors.

When it comes down to the question of whether bigger or smaller smartphones are best, we like what Sony is doing. The Japanese manufacturer is giving the customer more choice. So when it produced the flagship Xperia Z5, with a stunning 5.2-inch full HD display, it also came up with a 4.6-inch compact version (featured above).

We’re not expecting the major manufacturers to start releasing different sizes with every launch. But hopefully throughout the year, they’ll be able to produce phones of different sizes - and that'll be good news for all customers.

Over to you. Are you a phablet fan or do you favour compact smartphones? How much phone can you handle comfortably? Feel free to share your thoughts below.

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation here…

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