It is time to once again talk about phones and screen sizes. Some of you might have read the first and second installment where I was declaring my distaste for large phones. Originally I said 4 inches was enough, when I bought the HTC One S last year I had to give a little and say 4.3 was enough and now well today you will hear me say 4.7 is quite ok. But I have to explain this statement a little. In my last post I was showing how larger screens could fit into a smaller form factor and how there was still room for a larger screen in a compact package.
Motorola has now announced the Moto X and earlier in the year we saw Samsungs Galaxy S4 and recently the S4 Mini, HTC came with the One and the now announced One Mini and Sony keeps flooding the market with many different phone, at the top of the line the Z and ZL and then lower down th SP and L to name a few. LG well, I have not been paying much attention to them simply because I am not a fan of their phones, and they have not really been exciting me in recent years. So with so many phones out let’s revisit my wish from January 2013 to get good phones in smaller packages.
First off let’s have a look at the top of the line. I have ordered the phones by height, starting with the shortest and for comparison I have thrown in the Moto X and my current HTC One S.
The first thing one notices the Moto X is actually shorter than the One S even though it has a full 0.5 inches more screen, that’s huge, the bezels on the Moto X almost disappear. Next up we have Sony’s ultra compact Xperia ZL, it is not their top device but probably the most compact 5 inch phone on the market. It is followed by the aging Nexus 4. Next in line we have Samsung’s Galaxy S4 thankfully it seems like they have listened and just reduced the bezel and left the overall size of the phone almost unchanged compared to the S3. Next up HTC’s top of the line for 2013 the One. It is larger than the S4 but has only a 4.7 inch screen sure HTC had to put the stereo speakers at the top and bottom plus hardware buttons and a camera, so they were forced to make the bezel bigger but compared to the Moto X the bezels are enormous. The high end category is topped of the the “huge” Xperia Z, somehow Sony made their highest end device also their largest for no reason that I could figure out since they have shown with the ZL how compact they can build phones.
Since I consider anything larger than the One S to be too large for my hands it is remarkable that Motorola was able to squeeze an extra 0.5 inches into a smaller package. My winner in the high end category is clearly the Moto X. Looking at the Mid Tier, the phones that actually fit my hands, we can notice that there is a lot more choice compared to last year and the phones listed while having slightly lower specs than the top of the line, they still are good phones. Compared to last year this category has really matured, just for fun I also added my trusty old Nexus One in there, and remember the iPhone before the 5 had a 3.5 inch screen. So, who can pack the most screen into the smallest package?
The victory goes to Samsung when you look at most compact phone, the Galaxy S4 Mini is a really nice and compact phone, and if I were in the market for a new phone it would definitely be worth considering. It is followed by the Sony Xperia L which while still compact makes a notable jump in size but retaining the 4.3 inch size. And then comes the surprise, the Moto X comes in 3rd place for device size in this segment and it packs the aforementioned 0.5 extra inches of screen real estate. Then we have the also compact Xperia SP which is still not as large as the One S and at the far end not even able to improve over the 2012 One S comes the HTC One Mini as the largest phone of the bunch, and I though my phone had large bezels.
Looking at the mid range it becomes clear just how much more screen you get with Motorola’s Moto X compared to the others, and the spec of this phone while maybe at the lower end of the high end they are at the higher end of the mid tier. And also with regards to width the Moto X slots in nicely just a hair wider than the One S and significantly narrower that the behemoths high-end phones like the HTC One or the Galaxy S4, which will make this phone extremely comfortable to hold, oh and in Q4 2013 we might even see wooden back plates on the Moto X, which will make it even more comfortable. No cold glass or metal, no cheap plastic, just all natural warm wood.
In my opinion Motorola has a winner with the Moto X now they just need to find a way to roll it out internationally with all the customization options, and bring the unlocked price point to 499$. Or what they could also do, and would probably be even more exciting is to release an alternative version of the Moto X that has user replaceable back plates. Just sell the phone, with either a black or a white back plate and make individual back plates available for purchase, just like the Nokia 5110. Everyone seemed to have one of these phones back in the day and no two looked the same. Motorola could revive this phenomenon with the Moto X, no bulky covers to add a touch of personalization but actually personalize the phone itself without adding bulk. I think it could work and would allow Motorola to move large numbers of phones but give the consumers the ability to have unique looking phones. In a way the iPhone is very similar to this in that most people customize it with a cover to not just have a phone that looks like everyone else’s phone.
We will see if Motorola can be successful with the tailor made approach that they are currently trying to implement maybe it would really make sense to make the back plates replaceable by the customers them selves. Time will tell, but I am excited to see Motorola with a fresh breeze of Google.