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NPD: smartphone buyers lean more towards huge screens

updated 06:25 am EDT, Tue March 22, 2011

Phone displays sub 3.5-inch losing market share

Market research company The NPD Group has published a report showing that smartphone users are leaning towards large screens on their devices. When asked whether they would prefer portability, most users said that they would opt for screen size first. According to NPD's research, smartphones with 4.0-inches screens and over have captured market share from devices with screens any less than 3.5-inches.

"The explosion in Web and video content available for smartphones has caused consumers to rethink their phones' sizes," said Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD. "Larger displays offer a richer media experience, as well as a roomier surface for on-screen keyboards. Handset vendors are continuing to push the envelope of pocket real estate to complement the video capabilities of 4G handsets."

In terms of market share, handsets with screens 4.0-inches or larger, which first hit the market in Q2 2010, quickly captured 24 percent of the market by the end of the year. The market for iPhones and other devices with 3.5-3.9-inch screens held steady with a small increase of market share 2 percent higher than the same quarter in 2009. However, handsets with displays smaller than 3.5-inches, which dominated market share at the start of 2010 with 63 percent market share, saw this collapse to just 36 percent.

CES 2011 saw manufacturers of Android handsets including HTC, Samsung, Sony and LG launch a slew of devices with screens that were 4.0-inches, 4.3-inches and even 4.5-inches capitalizing on the popularity of larger displays. Among the recent phones released with screen sizes 4.0-inches or more are the HTC Thunderbolt, the Samsung Galaxy S II, while the Samsung Infuse 4G comes equipped with a huge 4.5-inch display.

When the iPhone first launched in June 2007, its 3.5-inch screen was considered large. However, the definition of a large smartphone display has evolved nearly five years after its release. Recent rumors suggest that Apple will respond to this trend by releasing an iPhone 5 that will be fitted with a 4.0-inch edge-to-edge display. If true, the likely aim of this design would probably be to deliver a larger display without compromising too much on size and weight. The iPhone 4's super high resolution Retina Display may have helped to keep Apple in the game, despite remaining at 3.5-inches. Its resolution exceeds most of the 4.0-inch and even 4.3-inch displays among its Android competition.

Regardless, the current trajectory of smartphone display size appears to be headed towards 4.0-inches becoming the new default size, with larger displays increasingly the norm. Android phones currently have an advantage in this regard, and it will remain to be seen whether Apple resists this trend or jumps on board too.

Samsung Infuse 4G with 4.5-inch display

by MacNN Staff



    Comment buried. Show
  1. facebook_Clarence

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Mar 2011



    They should make the ipad a phone too so I can hold it up to my head and look awesome when I'm talking to people about amazing things. It would make me look very important. Hey L@@K at me, I have a phone and I am somebody. I waited in line for 12 hours to get this phone!

    - Sent from my Android device

  1. Geoduck

    Joined: Dec 1969


    'bout time

    Maybe it's because I'm ~50 but I've thought the screens were too small all along. I have a company Blackberry and frankly almost never use it. It's just too hard to read. Even the older iPhones and their Android clones feel cramped. Itty bitty screens with itty bitty web pages, and itty bitty games.

    So I have a phone for calling and will be getting an iPad2 for everything else.

  1. dynsight

    Joined: Dec 1969


    a little bigger is better

    I agree... a slightly larger screen on the iPhone (4" or 4.5" ) would be better, and not make the device more difficult to handle and hold.

    Actually, it may make it a bit better, since you can get a slightly bigger battery in there... don't go too much bigger... just a little :)

  1. dliup

    Joined: Dec 1969



    How do you hold a larger screen phone with 1 hand? Are you going to get a slightly larger hand?

  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Changes everything.

    -- Sent from my Android Device.

  1. coffeetime

    Joined: Dec 1969


    more bigger screen please!

    In order to beat the new 4" screen iPhone 5, Samsung decides to make a 40" screen Android phone that beats iPhone 5 once and for all. All you need is a crane to hold up the phone while you talk. This will also resolve the confusing Android interface because everything is ON YOUR FACE! Don't forget to wear a steel toe boot..... just in case the phone falls on your feet.

  1. mytdave

    Joined: Dec 1969


    well, duh

    It doesn't take an expert to figure out people prefer larger screens on their smart phones. The only reason I have an iPhone instead of some other device is for the things it does better than any other device. But, if all else was equal, I would jump to a 4"+ screen size in a heartbeat.

    The thing Apple needs to keep in mind is that for a large number of potential customers, all else is perceived as equal, therefore they will buy the larger screen phone without even bothering to find out what other capabilities the iPhone has.

    Oh, and one more thing, while I personally appreciate the "Retina" display in the iPhone, it doesn't matter to the vast majority. Size rules over resolution every time. I hope Apple makes the iPhone 5 with a 4.0" display at the same resolution as the iPhone 4. That will give them the size that's big enough, and the resolution that's still higher than competitors.

  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Wishful Thinking

    >>>I hope Apple makes the iPhone 5 with a 4.0" display

    You can hope all you want. Steve still says "No"

    -- Sent from my Android Device.

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