9 votes

What if phones were actually designed for hands?

12 comments

  1. [2]
    stu2b50
    Link
    I don't think this assertion is correct. The big is better trend was very much a reactive event from the side of the suppliers to market demands. Steve Jobs infamously hated the idea of big, fat...

    Why did we do that? For very bad reasons! Because tech companies sold us on measuring progress that way — that the latest and greatest was the thinnest and biggest

    I don't think this assertion is correct. The big is better trend was very much a reactive event from the side of the suppliers to market demands. Steve Jobs infamously hated the idea of big, fat phones - but the market doesn't lie. Other in the emerging cutthroat world of Android phones, it's pretty clear what kind of Android phones people bought: big screens, low price. Camera? Nope, big screens, low price. Processor? Nope, big screens, low price. Software updates? Definitely no - big screens, low price.

    It was not until the tenure of the less opinionated, more swayed by market demands, Tim Cook that iPhones joined their Android brethren in big screen love - although, perhaps not the low price part.

    because we tend to make assessments of value aspirationally rather than on the merits of present, practical concerns; because we eat with our eyes and suffer the consequences in the rest of our bodies.

    Or how about because eyes are just as much a part of our biology as our hands? It's a mistake to picture this as a mistake rather than a tradeoff, and one the majority of people would rather to make.

    I am sympathetic to the author's point, because I also would prefer if phones were smaller, especially as a person with hands smaller than average. However, this tradeoff makes sense because I have a myriad of screens - laptops, TVs, tablets, e-ink tablets, a big widescreen one my desk.

    For MANY people, the ONLY computer they own is there smartphone. It is their Netflix and Youtube consumption device, their excel budget editor, their email client, what they read the news on, the only portal to their bank account, and so forth. Bigger screens, is more content on the screen, is a better experience doing all those things.

    Because for many people their smartphone has to both be a mobile computer and their only computer, it makes sense for them to pick the tradeoffs such that it is less comfortable, and less mobile, in return for being better at being a general purpose computer.

    15 votes
    1. mtset
      Link Parent
      In a rational market, we would see both large and small phones, perhaps with some other differences, correlated to those demographics which might buy them, at every (or at least most) price...

      In a rational market, we would see both large and small phones, perhaps with some other differences, correlated to those demographics which might buy them, at every (or at least most) price points. However, we do not see this; instead, we are at the whim of manufacturers. For instance, when my Pixel 3a broke last year, the only reasonable replacement was a 5a, which is significantly larger! Similarly, when my Moto G6 broke in 2019, I had very few choices of similar performance, connectivity, and size.

      As with food in plastic packaging, CPUs using conflict metals, and many other misfeatures or externalities, we cannot cry "market" because the companies making products for a particular application or market almost universally have the same problems - or else the products without those issues have other, unrelated problems that make them undesirable.

      6 votes
  2. [7]
    Octofox
    Link
    The market has very clearly sided against the author here. Phones in all form factors exist right now and yet the best selling phone is always the biggest ones. Apple even released an iPhone mini...

    The market has very clearly sided against the author here. Phones in all form factors exist right now and yet the best selling phone is always the biggest ones. Apple even released an iPhone mini with all the features of the larger phones and yet hardly anyone got one. While the Pro Max is extremely popular despite being massive and one of the most expensive phones ever.

    The majority are completely fine with using a phone with two hands. For things like typing it becomes a massive speed up. And for basically anything visual it’s a clear benefit.

    8 votes
    1. Gaywallet
      Link Parent
      This is false. With screen size also comes battery capacity and estimated battery life. The mini has the smallest battery and notably the shortest battery life. When comparing it to the base...

      Apple even released an iPhone mini with all the features of the larger phones and yet hardly anyone got one.

      This is false. With screen size also comes battery capacity and estimated battery life. The mini has the smallest battery and notably the shortest battery life. When comparing it to the base model, unless you have a strong opinion on cost (cheaper) or size, it makes sense to move up. As noted by /u/Akir, iphones also regularly have an SE version which is roughly the same size with cheaper parts, so the people most concerned with cost will likely be drawn towards the SE instead of the mini or an older model which will be discounted.

      The pro and pro max notably both have much better cameras which is a huge draw for the iphone crowd.

      6 votes
    2. [5]
      Akir
      Link Parent
      I feel that’s a poor example when at the same time as the mini was out there was a second option for a smaller phone that was half the price in the form of the SE.

      I feel that’s a poor example when at the same time as the mini was out there was a second option for a smaller phone that was half the price in the form of the SE.

      3 votes
      1. [4]
        hungariantoast
        Link Parent
        Yeah, the first link I clicked on when I searched "iPhone mini sales" says the iPhone 12 mini sold about as many units as the iPhone SE. It cost $100 less than the regular iPhone, but $200 more...

        Yeah, the first link I clicked on when I searched "iPhone mini sales" says the iPhone 12 mini sold about as many units as the iPhone SE.

        It cost $100 less than the regular iPhone, but $200 more than the iPhone SE. It was also released one month after the regular iPhone.

        While I like the concept and size of the iPhone mini, I would not be surprised at all if the iPhone 14 does not have a mini version, and then there's the rumor of the iPhone SE redesign coming in 2023.

        Honestly, the mini is just in a weird spot in the lineup. It gets its lunch eaten by the models directly above and below it because of that.

        3 votes
        1. [3]
          Micycle_the_Bichael
          Link Parent
          Only reason I don't have an iphone mini is because I am stubborn and refuse to get a new phone while my old one still works. As soon as this iphone X dies I'm getting a referb mini or SE. I cannot...

          Only reason I don't have an iphone mini is because I am stubborn and refuse to get a new phone while my old one still works. As soon as this iphone X dies I'm getting a referb mini or SE. I cannot wait to go back to the smaller phone. Since my X seems fine right now I haven't looked into which one I'll get too much.

          4 votes
          1. autumn
            Link Parent
            I went from an X to a mini last year. You’re gonna love how light it is!

            I went from an X to a mini last year. You’re gonna love how light it is!

            4 votes
          2. hungariantoast
            Link Parent
            Yeah, I have been considering going back to an iPhone in the future, but the price and lack of USB-C still annoy me. My current Android phone cost me $200 in 2020. Before that, I owned a Nexus 5X,...

            Yeah, I have been considering going back to an iPhone in the future, but the price and lack of USB-C still annoy me.

            My current Android phone cost me $200 in 2020. Before that, I owned a Nexus 5X, so it was quite an upgrade for me. The display is the same resolution as the iPhone 13, it has a hole-punch camera instead of a notch, and USB-C of course. Sure, it doesn't perform as well as an iPhone, but I don't use my phone for anything intensive anyway. Also, the battery is huge, and will last four days with normal usage.

            However, despite how much I like my current phone's hardware, it is not supported by LineageOS, and only received one major Android version update (to Android 11) and will not receive another. So unless I learn how to update and build LineageOS for my current phone, I no longer even get security updates.

            I really fucking hate the smartphone duopoly. Both operating systems suck in their own major ways. Android's hardware support is abysmal. For a world so apparently concerned with climate change, waste, and recycling, that we tolerate such pervasive and artificial obsolescence is damning. Apple, on the other hand, should have long ago been forced to allow third-party app stores on iOS.

            I hate the smartphone duopoly so much I have taken every reasonable step to minimize my interaction with, and reliance on, my phone. As a result, I really just need something that's cheap, works well enough with my carrier, and can manage a few basic functions. But I want updates! I want a reasonable measure of privacy and security!

            Android cannot, and I guess never will, offer that. So an iPhone is my new best option for my new set of wants and needs.

            I don't know when I will make the switch. I really don't want to spend a lot of money, which leaves me either buying used phones with questionable battery capacities, or getting a new iPhone SE.

            Yet, the SE's design is so dated. It is a hilariously bad phone for a hilariously high price. Apple tax indeed.

            Like I mentioned in my other comment, there are rumors of a redesign in 2023. I'm hopeful, I guess. The iPhone 14 also seems to be losing the notch and going for a hole-punch design, but I really don't want to spend that much money on a phone.

            2 votes
  3. mat
    Link
    When I read articles like that I sometimes feel like I'm the only person who doesn't use my phone in one hand and doesn't expect to. Never have done, at least not since phones stopped having...

    When I read articles like that I sometimes feel like I'm the only person who doesn't use my phone in one hand and doesn't expect to. Never have done, at least not since phones stopped having actual phone keyboards (the less said about the brief period of qwerty keyboards the better). My thumb is not as dexterous as my finger(s), why would I use my thumb? Also my phone is expensive and may break if dropped, so I want to hold on to it properly while I'm using it. I almost exclusively hold my phone in one hand and use it with the other. Or I use voice control.

    And yet I like small phones and tbh, haven't had much of a problem buying small phones. There was a brief period just when Sony's "Compact" range went to shit (the Z3C was such a shambles, it broke if you farted hard in it's general direction) and before the Pixel 3A was around when it was a bit tricky but it hasn't been an issue since then.

    4 votes
  4. tesseractcat
    Link
    I have an S8, and while it's a little smaller than the Pixel 6, I have no problem using it with one hand. Most apps put their controls on the bottom, and I have a gesture that shifts the screen...

    I have an S8, and while it's a little smaller than the Pixel 6, I have no problem using it with one hand. Most apps put their controls on the bottom, and I have a gesture that shifts the screen down when I need to tap something on the top half.

    Maybe it's because I have a different way of holding the phone than the author. Instead of having all four fingers wrapped around the phone, I use my pinky as a base (supporting the bottom of the phone). This allows me to shift the phone around in my hand pretty easily.

    Advanced haptics would still be nice though.

    2 votes
  5. wycy
    Link
    I previously had a Loopy[0] case and now have an Oh Snap[1] on a generic case and found this to be the optimal way to use large phones. I can (relatively) easily reach the far corners of the...

    I previously had a Loopy[0] case and now have an Oh Snap[1] on a generic case and found this to be the optimal way to use large phones. I can (relatively) easily reach the far corners of the screen with 1 hand using these.

    [0] https://loopycases.com
    [1] https://ohsnap.com

    2 votes