Is Apple Wrong About This Major Tech Trend?


When Apple launched its latest and greatest iPhone 5 a couple months ago, one of the biggest changes to the device was that it opted to change the size of the display for the first time in the product's lifetime. The iPhone maker took a slightly different route with how it made the screen bigger, keeping the same width but making it taller and changing the aspect ratio.

Source: Apple.

Apple took it a step farther and preemptively addressed criticism it knew it would get, arguing that keeping the same width made the device more usable with one hand while much of the Google Android army has been encroaching "phablet" (the single worst portmanteau ever known to man) territory.

Is Apple wrong?
Archenemy Samsung has now announced that its Galaxy Note 2 device has shipped 5 million units, less than one month after it crossed the 3-million-unit threshold. The South Korean conglomerate's Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 are among its best-selling devices right now, and each feature displays much larger than the iPhone 5.


Display Size


iPhone 5


1,136 x 640

Galaxy S3


1,280 x 720

Galaxy Note 2


1,280 x 720

Sources: Apple and Samsung.

Samsung's not the only Android OEM pushing display size, either. HTC's One X has a 4.7-inch display and its Droid DNA went up to a 5-incher. There's a 4.7-inch screen on LG's Optimus G, the device that Google's own Nexus 4 is based on (so it has the same display).

A study released in September by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech showed that Android adoption is being led by smartphones with larger screens. In the three months covered by the study, 29% of Android devices had a display size of 4.5 inches or larger. The researcher also concluded that a larger display translates into more ways that a user will utilize the device. Say what you will about Apple's approach, but the trend toward phablet devices appears here to stay.

Was Dell right?
One of the greatest ironies with this trend is that Dell was actually an early pioneer into the phablet frontier. The PC giant came out with the Android-powered Dell Streak 5 way back in 2010, predating the current crop of jumbo Android devices. The Streak 5 would last just one year before it was axed.

For a company currently perceived as being stuck in the past, particularly when it comes to mobile computing, how many times in recent memory has it nailed it with future trends?

Woz speaks
Even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, a vocal Android enthusiast, called Apple "arrogant" for not making a larger iPhone, since there's obviously a market for large devices. While we can't all carry around a dozen smartphones and tablets like he does, that puts more emphasis on the fewer devices we do buy and it seems a lot of consumers are going bigger.

Woz has a point though: not everyone wants the same thing, and not offering a larger iPhone to appeal to those buyers is a missed opportunity.

Apple's been wrong before
It's not as if Apple's never been wrong before. The iPad Mini is the perfect embodiment of that. After Steve Jobs famously bashed 7-inch tablets, Apple has now launched a tablet in the same category. Jobs was wrong that a 10-inch display was the perfect size for a tablet.

At the same time, one of Apple's biggest strengths has always been its discipline and ability to say no and focus on what it felt was best for users. Apple has the courage of its convictions that its approach is the way to go, but the only entity that will determine if it's right will be the market.

Apple's next earnings release in January will give investors some indication whether the iPhone 5 is sized right or not.

There is absolutely no argument that Apple is at the center of technology's largest revolution ever, and that longtime shareholders have been handsomely rewarded with over 1,000% gains. However, there is a debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company (and more importantly, your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.

The article Is Apple Wrong About This Major Tech Trend? originally appeared on

Fool contributor Evan Niu, CFA, owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple, Dell, and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.