Why Apple's rumored 4-inch iPhone doesn't make sense

With rumors flying around about Apple set to announce a 4-inch iPhone, research shows that larger-screened smartphones are simply better for business.

Apple rumor 4-inch iPhone 5se pricing specs
iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus Credit: Image credit: Macworld/Serenity Caldwell

I've always been a fan of big smartphone screens… pretty much the bigger the better. In fact, I've gone on record saying the iPhone 6 Plus not only isn't too big, it's actually not quite big enough.

Well, thanks to Luke Wroblewski, I recently came across research that clearly shows that when it comes to smartphone screens, the bigger the better. More specifically, the bigger a smartphone's display, the more people use it.

Particularly with rumors flying around claiming Apple will announce a 4-inch iPhone 5se at its event in March, these stats on smartphone usage trends might make you wonder why Apple would take a step back.

iPhone upgrades tell the tale

According to Pocket, people carrying a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 accessed a full third (33%) more articles and videos than they did using older 4-inch iPhones. And lucky folks with iPhone 6 Plus devices sporting 5.5-inch screens opened almost two-thirds (65%) more items than they did with smaller phones. Pocket also found that "A bigger screen means watching more video."

See also: I was right, phablets are taking over the world

Pocket summarized its findings very clearly:

"The bigger your phone's screen, the more time you'll spend reading/watching on it… In fact, the bigger your phone's screen, the more you'll read/watch as a whole."

The only time that wasn't true? Commuting. "Turns out that those with an iPhone 6 Plus read 22% less on their morning commutes than those with an iPhone 5/5S or 6," the report explained.

Not surprisingly, all that extra activity came at the expense of tablet usage. Also according to Pocket, "The bigger your phone is, the less you're going to use your iPad."

For example, people with an iPhone 6 read 19% less on their tablets during the week and 27% less over the weekend than they did when they had smaller iPhones. That's significant, but people who upgraded to an iPhone 6 Plus used their tablets 31% less during the week and 36% less over the weekend than they did previously.

Engagement with apps

Mobile research firm Flurry found similar results in its State of Mobile 2015 report earlier in January. Tracking app categories such as News & Magazines, Sports & Music, and Media & Entertainment, Flurry found that phablet users engaged with apps 4.19 to 5.3 times as often as did those on smart mobile devices as a whole.

"It appears that the extra inch of real estate has made the phablet the ultimate media consumption device," Flurry concluded.

Put it all together and it's no wonder that big-screen smartphones are taking over.

"If the current trends hold," Flurry said, "the phablet will become the dominant form factor by October of next year… [and] small phones will be extinct by the second quarter of 2016. It's clear consumers want their content, and they want it on a bigger screen."

I couldn't have said it better myself. So forget rumors of a smaller, cheaper iPhone. They don't matter. The real action is in big phones, the bigger the better. They sell better and people use them more. It's that simple.

See also: Phablets are the phuture, no phoolin'

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