Everyone’s Talking About A Bigger iPhone, Here’s What Tim Cook Says

Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal put the Apple rumor train in high gear by saying Apple is planning larger versions of the iPhone and iPad. Since then, all the major tech blogs have picked up and regurgitated the story a thousand times as if it were fact. Steve Kovach from Business Insider was the only one to remind us about Tim Cook’s public statements about the topic, particularly when it comes to the iPhone.

iPhone 5 (left) compared with a rendering of a 4.8-inch iPhone.

Cook, Apple’s CEO, has said the following about a larger iPhone.

  1. Manufacturing larger screens leads to quality issues, particularly realness and saturation in colors and sharpness of images and text. Apple won’t go larger just for the sake of going larger until they can eliminate issues like these with larger screens.
  2. Most people can comfortably use the iPhone with one hand, reaching from side to side and top to bottom with their thumb to reach text or buttons. Increasing the size of the display makes this more difficult, especially when it comes to using the keyboard.
  3. A larger display creates yet another screen resolution for developers to build apps for. Currently, there are two resolutions for iPad (retina and non-retina) and two resolutions for iPhone (retina 3.5 inch and retina 4 inch). In order to deal with the difference in resolution, Apple would essentially have to “letterbox” the app, adding black borders to the top and bottom, and centering the app in the vertical middle, something less than favorable for users and developers.

And yet, every day we see Android phones released with displays larger than four inches with no sacrifice in quality (many are now beating the iPhone’s Retina display in terms of pixel density). Every day, new developers release new apps for Android that work with a myriad of display sizes. Every day, customers like you and I spend our money on devices we sometimes need both hands to use.

You might remember the D8 conference where Steve Jobs directly addressed what the competition is doing by saying that Apple values customer feedback, but the ultimate form of feedback is how/where customers spend their money. If they aren’t happy with a 4-inch iPhone, they’ll vote with their wallets and buy something else. Since Samsung and other manufacturers have made billions of dollars from customers who want larger screens, it might be time Apple starts considering these “votes”. I voted with my wallet and bought a Galaxy S4 in May and I’m perfectly happy. How about you? Let us know in the comments.


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  • pevensen

    Developing good-looking apps for Android is a pain in the butt because of all the screen resolutions.

  • http://eightygrit.com/ Shelton

    1. Tim loves mfg obsticles, and Apple has a great history of overcoming them. They also have a history of disinformation. Saying they won’t do something and giving a list of reasons that essentially scare off other manufacturers from attempting it. “If Apple can’t even do it, I’m sure we couldn’t do it either.” Remember Steve’s comments about the iPad mini?

    2. Keyboard width is a bullshit excuse. My very average-size hands can easily accommodate a larger keyboard. Of course, I don’t really care, because I’m not one of the people who thinks I need a bigger screen.

    3. They have letterboxed and pixel-doubled before and there was very little uproar about it. I’m sure they would do it again. And developers don’t mind, so long as it results in more potential customers to sell to.

    I’m not saying there will or won’t be a larger screen phone. But I sure wouldn’t base my opinion on what Tim/Apple says. They have a history of saying a product has no place in the market right before that product is officially launched.

    Good article. ;)