It's been a bad year for little phone lovers. It's no secret that the average size of new smartphones has increased dramatically in recent years. But this year, the idea of a small phone that you actually want to use as your primary device (read: not what the Palm phone tried a few years ago) seems to be really dead and gone.
Apple today announced the second-generation iPhone SE, which is basically an iPhone 8 with the processor of the iPhone 11. It officially replaces the first iPhone SE that Apple released in 2016 and no longer sold in 2018. The new SE shares the attractive price of the original and the home button for fingerprint scanning, but is a much larger device. It has a 4.7-inch display compared to the original's 4-inch screen, and the entire phone is almost 30 percent larger.
Sure, the new SE is smaller than the rest of the current Apple range and smaller than any Android phone you can buy now. But if you are looking for something really small like the original, it is not what you have been waiting for.
The original iPhone SE is overshadowed by Apple's current models.
Picture: Dan Seifert / The Verge
This trend is also reflected in the latest Samsung Galaxy S20 product line. The smallest model available has a 6.2-inch screen and is undoubtedly a big phone. The S20 Plus and S20 Ultra step-up models make every effort to expand the size limits of a phone. A year ago, Samsung released the 5.8-inch S10E alongside its larger phones, but this year there is no such option.
Perhaps the worst offender when you call a big phone small is OnePlus. This week, the company had the gall to present its new OnePlus 8 as a "compact" design, even though it has a 6.55-inch screen and is larger than most other phones on the market. The OnePlus 8 is a bit smaller than the even larger OnePlus 8 Pro, but it's ridiculous to think that a phone over six inches in size and nearly three inches wide is "compact".
If you're a fan of larger phones and all of the benefits they bring, like: For example, more immersive screens, bigger batteries, and more wireless radios, you might think that the idea of a small phone in mid-2020 is quaint. Your phone is probably your most used computer and the most important device in your life.
However, if you're having trouble using today's phones in one hand or stowing them in the pocket of your favorite jeans, you know that the 4.7-inch iPhone SE 2 is still a big phone, regardless of the fact that Apple referred to it in the hype video in which the product is presented, a "small 4.7-inch design". Basically, today's phone manufacturers say, "Pick it up and deal with a large phone that may not meet your needs."
It's easy to see why Apple chose the larger design for the new model: the company claims this size is the most popular iPhone ever released, and it's technically easier to fit components in a larger frame than in a smaller one.
Apple also has years of experience with this basic form factor that goes back to the iPhone 6. If you trace your memory back to that time, you may remember that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were global blockbusters because Apple was finally able to meet the demand for large cell phones. What was big in 2014 will be small in 2020.
We can talk about these industry trends for days, but none of that would be comforting for those who just want a smaller phone.
Rumor has it that Apple plans to launch a variety of new iPhone models later this year, including one with a 5.4-inch edge-to-edge screen (read: without the chunky frame of the SE 2) that should be smaller than the 5.8-inch iPhone 11 Pro is now. However, the new model is unlikely, should it be released, to reach the compact dimensions of the original SE, and the wanters for small phones will likely stay cold again.