When Apple fans can tear themselves away from frothing about the prospect of an iWatch, their gaze falls squarely on the iPhone 6.
Nothing official is known about the next iteration of Apple’s smartphone, but the rumour mill’s for months screamed its lungs out that it’ll be bigger than the svelte, pocketable iPhone 5s.
Depending on which vague, secretive sources you decide to believe, in September Apple's going to unveil a 4.7-inch iPhone and maybe also a 5.5-inch monster iPhone 6L – the latter presumably designed for people who accidentally crush pint glasses when trying to quaff a beer, or reason that there’s no way they could possibly use a phone unless its display approaches the size of a flat-screen TV.
Apple iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S5
OK, so that might be a teensy overstatement, peppered with a hint of grouchiness – but I’m not sold on the relentless sprint towards ginormophones. I was one of the few people who recoiled in horror when hearing credible rumours about the iPhone 5’s taller screen.
I happened to be perfectly happy with my iPhone 4s, sporting a natty 960-by-640 display – a 3:2 aspect ratio that worked really well with a wide range of apps. Mostly, though, in not possessing banana thumbs, I liked how the iPhone 4s could be used one-handed, which was convenient when zooming about town or lazing about on the sofa.
Apple iPhone 6l shell
Eventually, I got my hands on an iPhone 5s, and although I eventually grew fond of it, I’ve never gotten over that screen size. Apple at the time released a comical commercial showing how, yes, you could still reach every part of the screen with a thumb.
If you had a big enough thumb. And quite large hands. And didn’t really care about cramp. But the iPhone 5 form-factor never offered the same level of comfort as its predecessor, even if it did provide a bit more screen real estate.
But now the high end of the market – the profitable bit Apple loves so much – is galloping towards ever-larger screens, and the iPhone’s set to follow.
I assume people’s infatuation with huge smartphones is driven by wanting just one device to be a computer for everything. And if screens are too small, they’re seen as ‘lesser’ for watching films, playing games and surfing the web. (Actually making a phone call is, according to a fictional survey I just made up, now only the 75th most likely thing people do on a smartphone, sandwiched awkwardly between ‘use that truly hilarious new selfie app that adds a funny hat’ and ‘actually bother to check into LinkedIn’.)
The thing is, now I’m armed with a newborn, I’m rediscovering the joy of having a device I can use reasonably well with one hand, given that the other is usually occupied holding said newborn and the copious quantities of milk said newborn is imbibing.
Lengthy glugging sessions become twinned with trips to Twitter or far too many games of Threes! I look at mock-ups of the iPhone 6, one at least as large as my unwieldy Nexus, and one that’s essentially an iPad mini, and groan about a future that will be just fine, provided I only ever need to reach about 80 per cent of the display.
I wonder what this is all leading to. Will giant iPhones usher in the death of the iPad? Will every iPhone 6 not only come with a USB cable, but also an iThumbStretcher? Will the iPhone 5s be the last great small smartphone, leaving those who prefer that form factor doomed to pick the least awful device from a desperate race to the bottom between Android manufacturers hell-bent on marketshare over profit? Will the iPhone 6L be suitable for sheltering a small family during a torrential downpour, which they might have been able to avoid entirely had they only been able to use a weather app one-handed while walking home?
All I know is this is looking to be the first iPhone I won’t really want, but I’m sure I’ll crack at some point and buy one anyway. And with my iPad, I can at least get in some practice as to what using Apple’s giant iPhone will be like.
iPhone 6 renders by Martin Hajek (www.martinhajek.com)
The Samsung Galaxy S6 in all its metal-and-glass glory