I plan to step up this year to a screen that measures at least 4.7 inches in diagonal, from the 4-inch iPhone I use today. With smartphones, even a little increase is a big deal.
We used to laugh at Gordon Gekko’s giant cellphone in “Wall Street,” but handset makers are back to supersizing phones—or at least their screens. The Sony Xperia Z Ultra is about the size of an “XL” Hershey’s bar, with a 6.4-inch screen. In the past year, the “phablet” has gone from a joke to a best-seller.
But what’s the ideal size?
I tested a dozen phones and consulted ergonomists, physical therapists and countless pants pockets. It turns out, there is some science to figuring out what screen size might best serve you, and three factors that matter most: What you can see, what your thumbs can reach and what you can comfortably hold. (Compare how different phones will fit in your hand in an interactive.)
The tricky part: “It’s all trade-offs,” says Jack Dennerlein, a professor of ergonomics at Harvard and Northeastern University.