Rumors of an even larger iPhone are floating around again. Marco Arment thinks a 5-inch iPhone (ok: 4.94-inch) is totally possible and went so far as to put together the math and a couple mockups to prove it.
It might happen, it might not, though this is starting to feel like another “there’s enough smoke so there must be fire” scenario. I’m skeptical as to whether I’ll try one, mostly because other 5-inch devices still feel like they’re over the tipping point for me. But hey, I went to college. I’m open to new things.
However, the first thing that struck me after reading this is that it’s going to take off like wildfire—crazy ideas + actual purty pictures always play well in the tech blogging scene, but especially the Apple tech blogging scene.
Of course, Cook already non-denied it—notice he didn’t actually say no, he just praised Apple’s latest creation. That’s called “not boxing yourself into a corner”.
That’s the second thing I realized. Cook seems to be doing better than Jobs at not boxing Apple into a corner when it comes to competing, even in an instance like this where it is arguably late to the party. Remember when Jobs shot down a 7-inch iPad? Maybe you can argue it was a smart competitive move, but that’s because the first 7-inch tablets weren’t very good, which gave Apple a little more time to show up fashionably late, but do it right.
But sometimes Apple changes a market, and sometimes a market changes without Apple, which is inarguably the case when it comes to larger smartphones. Plus, phones have been trending towards this much longer than the lead time Apple had with the 7-inch iPad. When it comes to 5-inch smartphones, and assuming it does one, Apple is a bit past the window of looking just fashionably late.
Regardless, Marco is right. However crazy a phone this size sounded back around 2007 and 08, they’re a staple now, and plenty of customers are surely passing up the iPhone based solely on the perception of a smaller, and therefore inferior, screen size. The option of a 5-inch iPhone would meet the demands of a changing market and, when you look at the math, involve a negligible impact on most of the developer ecosystem. Whether you think you want one or not, Cook left the door wide open for this, and giving customers what they want just makes sense.
I think Mr. Arment arguments are sound and make the iPhone Math even more plausible. But one thing strikes me: is it enough to have a bigger screen without increasing resolution just to keep current apps working? I’m thinking of increasing the screen canvas to show more information but at the same resolution of the retina iPad.