CES best phone and the implications for future iPhones.
The verge pick: *Sony Xperia Z*
5" 1080p / 140g / 7.9mm thick (also water resistant [1 meter for 30 minutes]. Nice touch)
Steve Jobs from the 2007 intro of the original iPhone:
"There's an old Wayne Gretsky quote I love -- 'I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it's been.' That's what we try to do at Apple. Thank you very, very much."
Traditional phone functionality (ie voice calling) is increasingly less important in smartphones. These are internet connected pocket computers first. Siri etc notwithstanding, we interact with them through software configurable touch screens (the apps). The bigger and sharper these screens are, the better the interactions can be. Now of course, as a device that is carried pretty much everywhere we go, portability is a big factor. The question is, peering ahead a year or so, where should the iPhone screen size be?
Small screen forces:
-power (little screens use less)
-size and weight (again small is better)
-cost (big screens, larger batteries or advanced tech to reduce power consumption aren't cheap)
-app compatibility (the jump from 3.5 to 4" was not without difficulties. Push too hard and there is a risk of alienating customers and developers)
Large screen forces:
-Once you have something like a 1920 x 1080 5" screen actually in use, the functionality of the computer in your hand is markedly improved. Web pages. Email. Text messaging. Video conferencing. Maps. Photos and movies (the 1920 x 1080 has a particular attraction here when you consider AirPlay to Apple TV connected to the now typical 1920 x 1080 LCD TV).
You can already see the draw of larger screens affecting Apple. Last fall they did what many pundits said they would never do.
-"3.5 inches is perfect."
-"optimized for one hand"
-"developers would revolt"
-"logistical nightmare. Two phone app resolutions."
How did that work out? Sure enough, we now have two resolutions. 960x 640 as before and 1136 x 640 on the iPhone 5. The 3.5ers protestations were ignored.
Customers want larger displays. Apple gave them what they wanted. Has Apple gone as far as they will go with screen size? I think not. They will keep skating.
I could repeat the pressures against a further screen size increase and add the point that developers and users are still recovering from the last change made only a few months ago. I think these negatives will be exactly as effective in holding Apple back as they were last fall.
I believe by fall 2013 Apple will have 2 phone screen sizes as they do now, one legacy screen and one new screen.
Now they have a legacy screen (960 x 640) and a new screen (1136 x 640).
By fall of this year they will have a legacy screen (1136 x 640) and a new screen. I think they should just take care of it and go to a *1920 x 1080 5" display*, but they may be more timid and go to 4.5-4.7" and a somewhat lower resolution like a 1.5 X pixel increase (1136 times 1.5 = 1704, 640 times 1.5 = 960) which would give a *1704 x 960 4.5 to 4.7" display*
Note the dimensions of the water resistant Sony at the top. Not too shabby. 7.9 mm versus the 7.6 mm iPhone 5. 140 g versus 112 g. The Sony has a glass back so there is room for a weight and thickness decrease by using an aluminum back and eschewing the water resistant features such as port covers.
Further decreases in both size and weight could be obtained by sourcing IGZO displays from Sharp. Sharp claims some very impressive reductions in power requirements for these displays which, if true, could allow a smaller and lighter battery to be used. Die shrinks of components such as the SoC and the LTE module would also help, both in power use and component size. This could allow the iPhone designers to aggressively trim the height and width of the phone, of course keeping in mind the hard lower limit of the larger screen. Making the home button shaped as a rounded rectangle instead of a circle would allow a few mm less device height. Similar reductions of the upper bezel around the earpiece should also be possible.The iPad mini includes software to detect unintentional screen touches on the screen edges. If they design this phone with the absolute minimum possible bezels to reduce device height and width, this software could serve them well in the phone as well.
To sum up. Apple has to move faster these days for competitive reasons. The two large iPads released in one year is more evidence of this. Apple will be selling three phones (as they do now) in two resolutions (as they do now) in fall 2013.
-iPhone 5 (1136 x 640)
-iPhone 5s released spring 2013 (1136 x 640)
-iphone 6 as I described above released fall 2013 with a screen size between 4.5 and 5" and a resolution between 1704 x 960 and 1920 x 1080.