The Hills Are Greener: The Sexy But Un-Ergonomic Android

The Hills Are Greener: The Sexy But Un-Ergonomic Android

Oct 8, 2012

Ever since I bought the Galaxy S III, at a behemoth 4.8 inches of screen size, I find that there is one chief drawback: my iPod touch 4th generation is practically unusable. It’s tiny by comparison! Everything feels so cramped at that screen size, the one that was touted for its one-handed usage, and recently got stretched out to 16:9 while keeping the same width. This width is praised by Apple acolytes for its ergonomic advantages, especially while using an iPhone or iPod touch one-handed.

Now let me say that it is a fair point. I know the S3 is harder to type on if I’m standing on the bus or train, clutching a pole for balance with one hand and typing out a tweet with the right. But that’s a minority of the time I spend with my phone; I like having the larger screen size for when I’m using it two-handed. When I’m watching video on it, I like being able to see more of it than on the iOS screen. Games play a lot better on that screen size, and virtual controls feel better. It is definitely a trade-off: I would rather my experience be better when I have full access to it than when I only have partial access to it. Of course, the fact that I work from home and don’t have to travel often makes my situation somewhat biased, but plenty of people drive to work, or maybe even take uncrowded public transportation routes and find they don’t need the one-handedness of a phone as much.

This is thanks to the fact that our phones have become more than just phones, they’ve become multimedia devices, and the larger screen is more conducive to that. Plus, it makes the phones easier to sell, really. Who wants the tiny phone when they can have the big phone?

But I do fear that there will exist a trade-off in these phones, where someone who wants flagship power but also something ergonomical will not find a good choice on Android. Motorola’s launching the RAZR M, a 4.3" phone that has little-to-no bezel, but it does fall short of the flagship RAZR phones in resolution, at 960×540. While time is proving the mid-range devices to be better than ever, on Android there exists a non-choice: either enjoy a giant phone or get one that’s not top-of-the-line. iPhone exists in that crosshair, and I wonder if there are any potential Android users going to iPhone because of that.

Perhaps the solution would be for a manufacturer like Samsung to release the next Galaxy S in differently-sized flavors: a standard size, a smaller one-handed-friendly size, and humongous-sized. That last may be unlikely with the Galaxy Note 2 being released separately, and with rumors that the Galaxy S IV might be a 5" phone, then fans of smaller phones may be left waiting for something never coming, just out of their grasp.

Meanwhile, in the world of iPod touch owners like myself, with device sizes having drastically increased in the past two years since the 4th generation model was released, with only a moderate hardware boost and taller/wider screen in the 5th generation, I ask if it’s truly worth it. Yeah, I’ll probably still get it, even if it is puny.