Who Says Big Ain’t Beautiful? Survey Says 24 percent of Handsets Have Screen 4 Inches or Larger


You might remember Steve Jobs professing that “no one” would want a phone with a screen sized at 4-inches or higher. Never mind that rumors place the upcoming iPhone 5 at that very screen size, a new survey from NPD took a look at smartphones divided by screen size and found that, in large part thanks to Android, devices with mammoth screens have been gaining in popularity rapidly.

Handsets with screens at 4-inches or above now account for 24 percent of all smartphones, according to their data. Phones with screens below 3.4-inches and those with screens in the 3.5 to 3.9-inch range have seen a slight drop off. Read on for the full details.

The NPD Group: Larger Smartphone Screens Gain in Popularity

Driven largely by sales of high-end Android phones, mobile handsets with screens that are 4 inches or larger now comprise nearly one quarter of all smartphone sales.

PORT WASHINGTON, NEW YORK, March 21, 2011 – According to The NPD Group, a leading market research company, U.S. consumers are willing to give up room in their pockets and handbags to gain a richer media experience on their mobile devices. The U.S. market share for iPhones and other smartphones with screen sizes between 3.5 inches and 3.9 inches have remained steady, but smartphones with the largest screens (4 inches or larger) have grabbed market share from devices with screen sizes that are less than 3.5 inches.

Based on the latest information from NPD’s Mobile Phone Track, smartphones with 4-inch-or-larger screens, like Samsung’s Galaxy S, HTC’s EVO 4G and Motorola’s Droid X, which debuted in the second quarter (Q2) of 2010, quickly grew to encompass 24 percent of the market by Q4 2010. The market share for iPhones and other smartphones with screen sizes between 3.5 inches and 3.9 inches increased 2 percent over the prior year’s Q4; while the market share of smartphones with screens smaller than 3.4 inches, declined from 63 percent in Q4 2009 to just 36 percent of the smartphone market in Q4 2010.

The five best-selling handset models in 2010 that had screen sizes of 4 inches or larger were as follows:

2 Motorola Droid X
3 Samsung Fascinate
4 Samsung Captivate
5 Samsung Vibrant

“The explosion in Web and video content available for smartphones has caused consumers to rethink their phones’ sizes,” said Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD. “Larger displays offer a richer media experience, as well as a roomier surface for on-screen keyboards. Handset vendors are continuing to push the envelope of pocket real estate to complement the video capabilities of 4G handsets.”

While men still make up the largest share of consumers purchasing smartphones with the largest screen sizes, women are increasingly likely to buy them. In Q2 2010 just 30 percent of large-screen smartphone purchasers were women, but by Q4 2010 women represented 40 percent of large-screen smartphone sales.

Data Note: The information in this press release is from Mobile Phone Track – NPD’s consumer tracking of U.S. consumers, aged 18 and older, who reported purchasing a mobile phone. NPD does not track corporate/enterprise mobile phone purchases.

Kevin Krause
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  1. I think 4 inch is perfect size but thats just me.

  2. @ Kevin…… small penis?

  3. Are we talking about penis?

  4. Bring on the 4.5″ screens now!

  5. Nope…4.3″ is the perfect size, Evo, Thunderbolt. They’re just a wider than the DX I had, but makes all the difference. My Thunderbolt is like a small tablet; perfect point of convergence, big enough to do real tasks, small enough to carry around.

  6. “You might remember Steve Jobs professing that “no one” would want a phone with a screen sized at 4-inches or higher. ”

    Well everyone claimed no one would want an all touchscreen device either when the iPhone was first announced.

  7. I wonder how much if this is driven by customer demand and how much of it is driven by the fact that most 3.7″ android screens are too small (remember, the aspect ratio android uses makes the 3.7″ screen narrower than the iphone 3.7″ screen) and there’s only a handful of 4″ phones (and only on a couple of providers).

    It’s not like the average buyer has that much of a choice anymore.

  8. Let all those people who say “Superphones is just a small portion of sales” STFU now. Superphones will rule once LTE is fully established.

  9. @destardi

    Depends how they make the bezel size if it isnt very much then 4.3 is nice but I still think personally 4 inch would be the perfect size maybe even have decent battery life lol.

  10. 4.3″ is perfect for me. Anything under 4″ is a waste of my time.

  11. 4.3″ FTW ARE YOU LISTENING TMOBILE!? Where is the Pyramid??

  12. Size matters!

  13. If we are going to be typing on the device, it’s typically easier to have bigger virtual keys and more screen real estate that is not taken up by the virtual keyboard. And if you are going to be browsing web sites, tapping on links, etc., it’s easier to have a bigger screen.

    Of course the drawback at some point is portability. My sweet spot seems to be around 4.3″ or even 4.5″. Those Samsung Galaxy 9000-based phones are a really nice size with their 4″ screens. Very light and flat, too. Too bad Samsung has screwed their customers so much lately so I will not buy their products. If I’m going to jump from my current Nexus One 3.7″, I want to jump big. The HTC Pyramid sounded perfect (4.3) until the rumors of AT&T buying T-Mobile :(

  14. Something about the size of the N1 or iPhone 3 is optimal. The EVO and it’s ginormous ilk are far too large. I hope that size is not what the industry standardizes on for premium handsets.

  15. Size depends a lot on your own size, namely hands. I bought an evo for my wife and she loves the phone, but we can definitely tell the phone is a little big for her hands. But for me, the evo is fine. For her size, my Vibrant would probably be a better fit. However, I personally prefer the larger screen sizes, I really like the Dell streak at 5″. That is a great compromise size between tablet and phone imo, the text is bigger so it’s easier to read on websites. I noticed that the thing I do the least on my phone, is talk.

  16. Evo 4g rocks just perfect

  17. read: 76% of smartphones are smaller than 4″

  18. I never expected to have a 4.3″ work for me. Once I got it I was surprised at how ideal the size is. It just feels right. It’s a little more annoying in the summer to have in a short pants pocket. But for where I live you always need a jacket for the other 9 months anyways. I want a tablet, but just can’t justify it as there’s nothing my phone can’t do that a tab can. I went into the MAC store and looked at the ipad2 the other day. Of course some salesperson came right up and proudly showed me all the features. I think she wanted to kick me out when I said if I bought it, i’d try to root it and make it run honeycomb…… she snorted, said it wasn’t possible and Stomped off. These MAC tards man. I would think they’d be done after they lost the CPU war. Remember when the g5 CPU came out and was still a single core? I think amd came out with a quad core that year… they fell from 20 percent of the computer market to like less than 10. The next year they paid keiffer sutherland to say in his gravely voice something like: we can’t afford the r&d to keep up with amd and Intel so just imagine what your dual core Intel CPU will be able to accomplish in a MAC…. at that point anyone with an IQ over 80 would be prompted to blurt out something like: what, Mr sutherland? maybe play less game titles, run less apps and surf less websites because ios is just not supported in the world at large?
    Wow what a long post….. you’d think a guy who just finished an 84 hour work week might be too tired for a post this size. I apologize. Sleep deprivation is one Hell of a drug……

  19. lol @ iphone 5 being 4 inches. and render all the accessories obsolete? i don’t think so.

  20. I had the Sprint Hero at 3.2″ screen size and upgraded to the EVO with 4.3″. I can say WOW what a difference it makes with a larger screen. I agree with many of the post above that the 4.3″ EVO is the perfect size and I am loving my EVO!

  21. 4.5 infuse. Can’t wait!

  22. lol
    Size matters, don’t let anyone else tell you differently.

  23. @icecone If you dont think 24% of the market is very large I dont know what to tell you. Its impressive. Love the 4.3in screen, will never go back.

  24. Personally I hate that cell phone tech is getting bigger….I don’t want to walk around with a calculator in my pocket. Currently I have the first Moto Droid & if it weren’t for the weight/thickness it’d be perfect. I’m an Android fan but I’d say the iPhone or Blackberry Bold are the best sizes for cell phones. Those survey numbers mean nothing, more people are buying larger cell phones because there’s really no options considering the better OS’s land on the bigger phones.

    Manufacturers could easily make the phones in a 4.3 size and a standard size (unlikely due to costs)….it just sucks that the choice of a top end phone has to be damn near calculator-ish in size.

  25. ….and 24% is still a significant minority of handsets.

  26. “You might remember Steve Jobs professing that “no one” would want a phone with a screen sized at 4-inches or higher”

    Thats because he thought because he didnt no one else would anymore either. I guess just the Jobs followers were listening :P

  27. @Andy….can you explain what you said about android ratio with a 3.7 inch screen vs the iphones?

  28. if they came with 4.3″ to being with, I doubt android’s be so successful today :) I it does take sometime to enjoy the N1 size and one does need time to realize how 4.3 is just the perfect screen size, especially when the phones are getting so slim (galaxy s2 <9mm thick)

  29. @Ron

    I think what Andy is getting at is that most android phones run at a different aspect ratio than the iphone. For example, the Droid X is 16:9 while the iphone 3G had a 3:2 aspect ratio I believe? Correct me if I’m wrong about that. So while the Droid X was taller, it was the similar in width to the iphone 3G.

  30. yeah I think its time to go bigger. 4.5-4.7.

  31. I’m all for the 4.5″ screens on phones. . . at least I’ll be able to read something on it.

  32. It means that 76% phone screen is below 4′ inches

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