Enjoy your large phone display? You’re not alone.

June 5, 2013
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smartphones sony xperia nexus 4 aa 1600

It seems that Android smartphone buyers located in the United States have developed a keen taste for larger screens, especially those at around 4.8-inch. Starting in April of this year, the volume of phones at this size have successfully surpassed more “conventional” devices, like the 4-inch panel mounted on the Samsung Nexus S.

This may indicate a general modification of the market taste, but could also indicate increased manufacturer confidence in bigger panels. While the most popular choice still remains the 4.3-inch diagonal screen, an uncontested leader since 2012, bigger phone like the Samsung Galaxy S4 or HTC One may soon overtake and become even more popular.

As seen from the graphic representation featured below, the trend in May is a vivid rise of larger phones in favor of all others. As far as the last month is concerned, approximately 19.5% of US inhabitants owning an Android smartphone have opted for a 4.3-inch screen, while 14.7% of them went for larger. On the other hand, 4-inch panels can now be found on 11.2% of all existing smartphones, while sizes smaller than that are fading away: 8.7% for 3.5-inches and just 5.8% for even tinier.

Bigger is better 

android us chart

While the chart itself is restricted to devices with panels smaller than 4.8-inches, the data provided above is quite interesting. It wasn’t long ago that consumers didn’t have many options above 4.3-inches. Before the recent trend in larger phones, such devices were considered “phablets” by some, and to see someone with a phone of that size was rather curious.

After Samsung introduced the Galaxy S3 into the marketplace, perception changed.  One of the best phones at the time, with a classy design that made a bigger screen look nearly perfect, consumers opinion changed. Manufacturers also had a big role in this decision, choosing to incorporate state-of-the-art specifications into larger handsets, and mediocre gear into smaller ones.

The introduction of the so called “mini” phones as smaller variants to popular versions like the Galaxy S3 can also be pointed to as a big factor in this trend. In order to sell more units, manufacturers gave people a cheaper choice, cloaked under the hood of a smaller device. It gave consumers an option in screen size, and bolstered the larger screens place in the market.

Everything is connected

Behind any consumer decision, there is a manufacturer idea and supplier strategy. First of all, smarter technologies usually require more space. To squeeze the same computational power into smaller volumes, that would then have been provided by smaller phones, could lead into increased R&D cost, and more advanced fabrication procedures. In order to make everyone happy, companies opted to sell advanced smartphones with large screens, as well as budget choices with smaller panels.

Secondly, panel suppliers also play an important part in the whole process. If fabricators announce a long shortage for an upcoming period, phone designers and managers could re-think their strategy and try to avoid the predicament. Unfortunately, there are two ways of doing that: change the supplier (which is usually a pretty unfortunate situation), or change the design and marketing strategy.

As far as the future holds, a recent DigiTimes report states that until August 2013, displays with a diagonal between 4.5-inches and 5-inches will be in short supply, due to several handset vendors preparing to release models in the third quarter. Moreover, a critical outage of small-size devices is due to makers cutting production for entry-level handsets. As mentioned in the beginning, bigger will certainly become more popular as time develops.

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