In the days and weeks (and months) leading up to the Septerber 2014 Apple Event rumors began to swirl that the new iPhone would, in fact, be two new phones. And not an old phone dressed up like a new — the iPhone 5c — but two actually new high-end iPhones. These new phones would measure up at 4.7 and 5.5 inches diagonally. My heart sank. I hoped that, like the MacBook Pro (neé PowerBooks), the iPhone would come in three sizes (4, 4.7, and 5.5). As the picture became clearer this, it seemed, would not be the case.
The day before the event Marco Arment wrote a piece summarizing what he felt were our concerns about this new phone size:
We had resisted the idea of bigger screens not because we hated screen space, but because we thought they’d bring major costs in size and weight.
In 2011, big screens came at bigger costs to size, weight, and battery life than today’s bigger-screened phones. We failed to anticipate advances in enclosure design, manufacturing, and screen technology.
Battery life, and weight were not my conerns (though the 6 and certianly the 6 Plus certianly do weigh more — and not an unnoticable amount — than the 5s), but size was. Size was and, in fact, still is my paramount concern. And no amount of enclosure advancement will ever be able to make a 4.7“ screen as reachable as my current 3.5” (yes, I still have a 4s) screen or even a 4" screen like the 5, 5c, or 5s. I am a daily commuter and I use mass transit for 45 minutes each way. There’s no guarantee I will be able to get a seat (I often do not) or even that I will have more room than physical dimensions of my body at times. I need one hand to hold on to the disgusting hand rails, and so I have a single hand free to operate my iPhone. I want to use Tweetbot, Byword, Instapaper, Unread, Tapatalk, Safari, and Messages constantly. I need to access back buttons and menus and the tap-the-top-to-scroll-back feature (I use that a ton). Many of these things are too far to reach without shuffling the iPhone 6 in my hand — begging for trouble on a crowded and often lurching Elevated Train car — or using ‘Reachability’ (Apple’s stupidly named double-touch-the-home-button-to-lower-the-top-half-of-the-screen-so-you-can-reach-it feature) which makes every tap up top take 3x the interactions to compelete. 3x! That’s insanity! Exclamation points!!
Near the end of his piece Marco describes the edge-case for people like me:
When you only do a few things on your phone and it doesn’t really matter how big the screen is, you don’t demand bigger screens as much and it’s nice for the phone to be as small as possible.
Or, maybe, if you’re like me, you really just want a phone you can use with one hand.