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Have Smartphones Reached Their Maximum Screen Size?

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Since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, all smartphones makers turned to the form factor we know today. A single bar of plastic/metal/glass with a large screen on the front and no buttons. The controls of the device such us power button, volume, dedicated buttons, can be found around the frame.

Today’s smartphones are significantly larger than their ancestors. For reference, the original iPhone was 115 x 61 x 11.6 mm back in 2007. By contrast, the current 2019 iPhone XS Max is 157.5 x 77.4 x 7.7 mm.

We could assume that smartphone sizes could be still growing as years go by! That’s not true though. In fact, the iPhone XS Max with 6.5 inches screen (2019) is actually smaller than the iPhone 6s Plus ( 158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm ) with a 5.5 inches screen which launched back in 2015!

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How can this be? You might have been 100% sure that iPhone XS Max is the largest iPhone yet! Right?

Yes and you are not wrong to assume that. In fact, it does appear as the largest iPhone ever built, and that is due to screen-to-body ratio.

Previous generations’ smartphones have slowly become bulky. For example the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (2012) was 151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm with a 68.6% screen-to-body ratio at 5.5 inches . Whereas the Galaxy Note 7 (2016) was 153.5 x 73.9 x 7.9 mm but with a much comforting 78.0% screen-to-body ratio and a screen of 5.7 inches!

You see, the smartphone size itself reached it’s maximum limits. It can be physically challenging to carry around a device that is larger that the largest smartphones of today, and the makers are very aware of this. The thing that matters in 2019 (and on) is the screen-to-body ratio. The industry is now capable of producing phones with up to 98% screen-to-body ratio! That is simply amazing. Thus, the need for larger devices has diminished.

How did makers achieve that?

Well, for starters they removed any front facing buttons that used to exist. Also with the advance of LCD and AMOLED panel technology they were able to stretch the screen as far as possible to the edges of the device.

They are now able to hide fingerprint sensors behind screens and many makers are working to hide cameras as well. Also another factor is the introduction of various screen cuts aka “the notch”, the “punch hole”, “the teardrop” and so on. Other makers have gone one step ahead and removed the front facing cameras and sensors completely and stuck them in a movable piece above the screen. Not so appealing.

My personal favorite is “the punch hole”. It is not invasive at all and does not sacrifice any serious real estate on the screen. It can be conveniently placed on the side or in the middle of the screen.

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So what’s next? We already reached maximum ratios within 2019!

Having reached the maximum phone size, screen size, screen-to-body ratio, we are already in a sweet spot of this form factor. 6.3 inches are more than enough for all your daily tasks. So, in my opinion, the next specs that the makers will focus on are pixel density, higher refresh rates and energy-saving panels!

Whatever the case, the future is exciting. Embrace the screen-to-body ratio! 🙂

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