I bring you good and bad news today. The bad news is that tiny phones are dead. Apple is definitely eliminating the iPhone mini this year, and the smallest Android phone I’ve used all year is the 5.9-inch Asus Zenfone 9 — much larger than the 5.4-inch Mini. But now the same goes for “small”.
Here’s the good news. We can rest long enough to end the debate over what is the right size for a phone because I just answered one: 6.1 inches. From now on all phones will follow the new, completely reasonable standard invented by me and come with a 6.1-inch screen. Take the Google Pixel 6A and its – you guessed it – 6.1-inch screen. Next to the 6.4 and 6.7-inch Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, it’s noticeably smaller. It fooled me into thinking that when I first took it out of the box, I had a smaller phone, but it’s actually a lot bigger than the Mini.
If we can’t have really small phones, we should have more like the Pixel 6A: small enough to fit in your pocket but large enough to be tolerated by the phone-loving population. A few exceptions will be allowed, but virtually none to the power inherent in me: 6.1 inches is the new default. Here’s my reasoning.
It is small enough to qualify as a compact phone.
Sony has just teased a new “compact” phone which is probably the Xperia 5 IV, which is likely to have a 6.1-inch screen like its predecessor. Since most Android phones (especially best-selling budget and midrange devices) these days hover around the 6.5-inch mark, this counts as compact.
It is also, objectively, not very small. Here’s something that actually happened: When I unboxed the Google Pixel 6A, I told the rest of the Verge review team on Slack what a cute, little phone it was. A Little Kid Pixel 6! He quickly reminded me that 6.1 inches is not a small, cute phone area. When you spend most of your time using giant Android phones, you may lose your understanding of what a small display is and what is normal.
It’s big enough to be acceptable to the big phone-loving masses.
The base models of the Samsung Galaxy S22 and iPhone 13 are both 6.1-inches. In the US, at least, they’re basically the default flagship phones on Android and iOS — you can go up there in both price and screen size, but it all starts at 6.1 inches. See my previous point about normalizing screen size via repeated exposure: If most people already see it as the default, it’s fixed, I say! No need to increase the standard screen size much – we’re all resting right here.
One has to eliminate screen size inflation.
Years ago, we all carried small sub-5-inch phones in our pockets, and you know what? it was okay. But then we got greedy for more square inches and more pixels. Here we are. The largest iPhone is 6.7 inches. What’s next, the 7.6-inch screen? You have to fold it in half to move it around! to imagine! The madness must stop.
I am not saying that every single phone should be 6.1 inches. People have spoken, and people want Max, Plus and Ultra. I’m only declaring this humbly by saying that we settle on a sensible middle ground that satisfies small phone enthusiasts and everyone else before it’s too late. In the meantime, here I am, crying softly as I put my SIM card in another phone with a 6-point-even-inch screen.