It’s settled: 6.1 inches is the ideal smartphone screen size

It’s settled: 6.1 inches is the ideal smartphone screen size

I come to you today with good news and bad news. The bad news is that small phones are dead. Apple is definitely killing off the iPhone Mini this year, and the smallest Android phone I’ve used all year is the 5.9-inch Asus Zenfone 9, slightly larger than the 5.4-inch Mini. But that’s what passes for “little” now.

Here’s the good news. We can finally put an end to the debate about what is the right size for a phone because I just made up an answer: 6.1 inches. From now on, all phones will stick to the completely reasonable new standard I’ve come up with and come with a 6.1-inch screen. Take the Google Pixel 6A and its, you guessed it, 6.1-inch screen. Next to the 6.4-inch and 6.7-inch Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, it’s downright small. It fooled me into thinking it was holding a small phone when I first took it out of the box, but it’s actually much bigger than the Mini.

Small phones are fine (iPhone Mini, left), but a 6.1-inch phone (iPhone 13, right) is the next best thing.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic/The Verge

If we can’t have really small phones, then we should have more like the Pixel 6A: small enough to fit in your pocket but big enough to be tolerated by the big phone-loving population. Certain exceptions will be allowed, but for the power that literally no one has conferred on me: 6.1 inches is the new default. Here is my reasoning.

It is small enough to qualify as a compact phone.

Sony just showed off a new “compact” phone that’s probably the Xperia 5 IV, which is very likely to have a 6.1-inch screen like its predecessor. Since most Android phones (especially the best-selling budget and mid-range devices) hover around the 6.5-inch mark these days, this counts as compact.

It is also, objectively, not very small. Here’s something that actually happened: When I unboxed the Google Pixel 6A, I jumped to the rest of the Edge check out the Slack team on how cute and small the phone was. A little Pixel 6 baby! I was quickly reminded that 6.1 inches is not cute little phone territory. When you spend most of your time using huge Android phones, you can lose the sense of what is a small screen and what is just normal.

It’s big enough to be acceptable to the public that prefers big phones.

The base models of the Samsung Galaxy S22 and iPhone 13 are both 6.1-inches. In the US, at least, those are basically the default flagship phones on Android and iOS – you can go up from there, both in price and screen size, but it all starts at 6.1-inches. See my previous point about screen size normalization via repeat exposure – if most people already see this as the default, then it’s solved I say! No need to increase the standard screen size – we’re all comfortable here.

Someone has to put an end to screen size inflation.

Years ago, we all walked around with tiny sub-5-inch phones in our pockets, and you know what? That was good. But then we got greedy for more square inches and more pixels. Here we are. The largest iPhone is a gigantic 6.7-inch. What’s next, a 7.6-inch screen? You would have to fold it in half to even take it with you! Imagine! The madness must be stopped.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 in hand

Watch? Look how beautiful the 6.1-inch Galaxy S22 is.
Photo by Allison Johnson/The Verge

I’m not saying that all phones have to be 6.1 inches. The town has spoken and the town wants Maxes, Pluses and Ultras. I am just stating politely requesting that we settle on a sensible middle ground that will satisfy both small phone aficionados and everyone else before it’s too late. In the meantime, I’ll be here, weeping softly as I put my SIM card into another phone with a huge 6-something-inch screen.

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