Rumor has it that Samsung might bump up the GS4 to a 5-inch AMOLED screen. Will Apple counter that move in 2014 with an even larger screen for the iPhone 6?
More than the metal back, A6 processor, or slim design, the hallmark feature upgrade on the iPhone 5 is the elongated screen. After bucking the trend of expanding the screen size of the iPhone for years, Apple finally answered the call for a larger-screened iPhone. However, with their stretched aspect ratio, they did it in a way that differentiates the iPhone 5 from any other smartphone on the market today.
In spite of the fact that the iPhone 5 is on track to become the most popular and best-selling smartphone ever, it doesn’t appear that their competitors are looking to copy the design (either because they don’t want to seem pastiche, or because they don’t want to draw further fire from Cupertino’s legal department). Instead, top competitor Samsung appears to be looking to deploy new screen dimensions and technologies in 2013, which could make their way onto the GS4.
According to Droid-Life:
” . . . details are beginning to emerge on Samsung’s plans to produce a 1080p HD Super AMOLED display for use in future devices. According to sources, the displays that could see mass production in Q1 of 2013, are 4.99″ with a whopping 441ppi – much like the recent DROID DNA that has 440ppi. As for exactly when we could see Samsung show these off, sources lead that we could see the technology on display at the 2013 CES, which is just a couple of months away.”
Because of the release timeframe for the new AMOLED display, tech pundits are projecting that Samsung will actually install this new 5-inch display on the GS4, giving the Korean-based consumer electronics giant two top-tier mobile gadgets — the GS4 and Note — that traverse the 5-inch mark in screen dimensions.
If Samsung makes this move, can we expect Apple to revisit the screen size of the iPhone 6?
To be sure, there have been plenty of complaints about the iPhone 5′s display. In spite of the new in-cell technology and added row of icons to the user interface, many Apple enthusiasts expecting an Android-like expansion of the screen felt cheated by Apple’s middle-of-the-road approach; clearly, Cupertino designers still buy in to the Jobsian ethic that the iPhone is ideally sized, and the new dimensions appear to be a compromise at giving users a larger screen without changing the overall look and feel of the iPhone.
My guess is that we’ll see Apple tenaciously defend their new screen size well past the iPhone 6. I don’t expect a 5-inch screen on the iPhone 6, as I suspect that Apple gave their current screen size careful consideration and would see the adoption of a wider, larger screen as a capitulation that they need not make while the iPhone remains the top single smartphone in the world.
Interestingly enough, there is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that Samsung may have jumped the shark with the GS3′s screen size, and that going in the direction of a 5-inch display might hurt the brand rather than help it. According to Product Reviews, “We’ve heard from a number of PR readers that want to see the Samsung Galaxy S4 a little smaller, so it ‘fits better in a pocket.’” Granted, Product Reviews readers aren’t going to guide Samsung’s R&D for the GS4, but it’s worth noting that maybe the notion of ever-increasing smartphone sizes will mark the decline of a device’s popularity, not the steady increase that I think Samsung is hoping for.
Smartphone users remain obsessed with screen size. Many suffer from screen envy, even. But it remains to be seen if Apple shares that obsession, and I think that other hardware and feature upgrades will dominate the iPhone 6 in 2014.
By Michael Nace