February 1, 2013 Permalink
Hmm, Marco Arment's latest speculation reminds me of my own speculation: as he says, it's crazy. That said, it certainly makes sense from a manufacturing cost standpoint - sharing lots of expensive components makes for better economies of scale. However, I don't like this:
First and foremost, there's significant demand for larger-screened phones. As much as we make fun of the Galaxy Note, it sells surprisingly well, especially outside of the United States. Other large Android phones sell very well almost everywhere.
I suspect John Gruber's musings from a year ago are still relevant: perhaps large Android phones sell well because large Android phones have enough stuff to keep users happy without running out of juice faster than you can say "power efficiency". Meanwhile, the smaller phones carry various compromises. That may be less true today, but one need only look at the recently launched, 3G-packing Nexus 4 to see what I mean.
But they do sell well. The question is, why? There are surely many people out there who think they need a bigger phone. I also think there are many people out there who are simply wrong. What purpose does a bigger phone serve aside from being a necessary compromise? “I can watch movies in full HD!” Yes, but phones are instruments of last resort for watching movies - at that point you’re trading a too-small screen for a slightly-less-too-small screen. They are no better for big-screen tasks like writing notes, watching movies, or playing games - you can make more of a difference by holding the phone closer to your face.
If I’m right, John Gruber was spot on - they buy the bigger Android phones because the bigger phones are still the ones that don’t suck.
I think the best argument in favor is that Apple may simply have run out of room for improvement in the current iPhone. It could now be so thin and compact that they are being forced to create an embiggened model to be able to add features and battery life to the next revision. I think that reeks of desperation, but it may well be the only way to stay "ahead" of Android phones as their spec sheets continue to get fluffed up.
Therefore, I can totally believe that there will be a bigger iPhone, given the reasons stated in Marco’s article and the last point I mentioned. If that does happen, though… it would be a little sad to see.