With the launch of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus this week, Apple cemented the Plus’s status as the best, most feature-rich iPhone in the lineup. Unfortunately, Tim Cook and Friends didn’t address the glaring issue that the Plus-sized iPhone is still bad.
It doesn’t really matter how much technology you cram into Apple 5.5-inch phone: unless that tech was stolen from Dr Who, it’s not going to do anything about the size. While Android manufacturers have been shrinking the physical size of their phones to accommodate bigger screens in a small form factor, the 7 Plus, like the 6 Plus before it, is too big.
The Galaxy Note 7 fits a 5.7-inch screen into a device that measures 6.04 x 2.91 inches. The iPhone 7 Plus, with its noticeably smaller screen, is 6.23 x 3.07. The Galaxy S7 Edge, with an identically sized screen, is 5.94 x 2.86 inches.
Those numbers might not seem a lot smaller, but in the flesh it’s a huge difference. My small hands can fit around a Galaxy S7 reasonably comfortably, and you can kinda tap out messages one-handed. With the 6s Pluses that I’ve used (and the 7 Plus is the same size), you really feel like you’re wielding a small tablet. Children stop and point when you hold the thing up to your face. Our society is not designed to accept a phone this big.
Now, the small-phone-vs-big-phone argument is old and hackneyed, and simply complaining about the size of phablets isn’t going to get us anywhere. But it’s important to note that Apple is simply not good at building a big phone. Samsung fits the same screen into a smaller phone, and by the way, fits a much bigger battery in there at the same time.
Oh, and while we’re talking about how Apple sucks at designing big phones, let’s look at Bendgate/the iPhone 6S Plus “Touch Disease.” Some poor design decisions resulted in the 6 Plus being less physically robust than other big phones, and in some cases, it bent in people’s pockets. In recent months, owners of 6 Pluses have seen their screens and fingerprint sensors stop working, because of the same thing.
So pretty much any way you look at it, Apple is bad at building big phones. While the iPhone 7 may well spank the best of the Android world, the Galaxy Note 7 — even with its tendency to explode — is an objectively better device.
Now I shouldn’t really care about this, because I hate phablets and will hate myself if I ever spend money on one. But the problem for regular iPhone users is that Apple has kept its best camera tech exclusively for the iPhone 7 Plus. If you want the best Apple can produce, you have to go big, and big sucks.
Apple will claim that it’s a limitation on physics, that it needed the extra space to put the extra camera module. But that’s a shaky argument when much smaller phone manufacturers with a tenth of the R&D budget (and no Jony Ive!) can fit a dual-camera module into a normal-sized phone.
My cynical argument is that Apple needs a selling point, other than LOOK IT’S BIG, to move iPhone Pluses out the door. That might be a good move for the quarterly sales figures, but it’s hostile to customers who just want the best phone Apple can make, without having to carry a manbag for their phone.