Rethinking a small smartphone: small is beautiful

My iPhone 5s

My iPhone 5s

Nowadays more and more people think that a larger smartphone is necessary, say at least a 5-inch screen is enough. There are a few reasons according to their saying: fonts are too small in tiny phones like iPhone 4/5, and watching videos and photos are more enjoyable in a larger screen. But, does it mean that we must have it, and our tiny phones are useless?

愈來愈多人覺得至少5吋螢幕的手機才足夠他們所需,因為像iPhone 4/5小螢幕的手機中,字看起來太小;而相和電影等視覺享受在大手機比較好。但,是否意味我們必須要擁有大手機,而小的手機就一定無用?

More demands on information | 大手機反映對資訊需要大了

In the past we need phones for communicating with other people through voices only. When smartphones were invited, it has brought visuals into it, and it is more convenient to gather information and create something (like sketches, photos and videos) than a portable computer or a tablet. When we started using a 3.5-inch iPhone 4 we would find it amazing compared to our feature phones like Nokia we used before. As we got more and more information and knew the phablet like Samsung Galaxy Note did exist in the world, we needed a bigger phone for our increasing demands for information, like reading long articles, handling a large amount of WhatsApp and email messages, gathering more and more news every day. We also take photos and videos, retouching them and publishing them in social media, combining them with an article in Evernote and blogs. The phone is much more than a phone, it is a centre for all kinds of information received and created. It is understandable that people want a bigger smartphone.

過去我們對手機的需求只限與人的音訊,但自從有了智能手機,視覺變成了很重要的部分,現在只要拿起手機便可接收各類文字和影像資訊,比電腦和平板方便。當我們開始使用3.5吋的iPhone 4,對比Nokia功能手機我們會覺得很有趣,但隨著時間我們會接收更多各式各樣的資訊,再加上有了大手機如Samsung Galaxy Note的比較,認為更大尺寸的手機可以「盛載」更多我們對訊息日益增加的渴求,包括閱讀大量新聞、文章、處理愈來愈多的電郵和WhatsApp訊息。我們也體會到在手機拍照和拍片的好處,因為可以在同一裝置上修圖甚至在社交媒體中發佈,在Evernote、網誌上加上筆記。手機不只是昔日簡單通訊的手機,它是一個資訊中心,有接收也有產出。所以不難理解為何需要更大的手機。

A constraint can be an advantage | 限制也可以是優勢

No doubt, a phone with a big screen is a good solution for most of our needs, but does it mean a small phone is bad? On my 4-inch iPhone 5s, reading articles and checking Facebook especially for a long time can make my eye feel tired. Editing photos on VSCO app is not amazing. Its battery life is very short, and the storage size is small, only 16GB with 4GB left! Maybe a 4.7-inch iPhone 6s can respond to my current problem, but I never give up my 2.5-year-old tiny phone.

When I am traveling, I would like to focus more on the outside world, not the digital world. This small and light iPhone 5s can only allow me to,

  1. Capture precious moments (while not checking whether the photos you have just taken are out of focus);
  2. Write down my little bit sudden thoughts and ideas in my Evernote (while not writing a long article for my blog or books like working), since I easily have them outside rather than at home or office.
  3. Reply some urgent messages (while not having a long conversation in WhatsApp).
  4. Google information relevant to the place I am visiting.

The limitations of my small phone thus help me figure out what the most important value for my iPhone: connecting the world better by recording and understanding.

The small iPhone used to be an amazing and powerful technology in hand. Yes, changes in needs do exist and people always satisfy themselves by upgrading to a better machine, saying the best phones ever but forgetting what they say later on. I love technology, but I know the so-called outdated gadgets are still fascinating if you are willing to rethink it. I like iPhone 6s, but I still find my 16GB iPhone 5s lovely. If it stops working one day, I have so many choices. Switching to a cheap Android phone with iPod touch can be one of the options! This is the beauty of technology and you can do everything in different ways!

無疑,大螢幕是解決方案,但小手機就變差了嗎?在我的4吋iPhone 5s,要長時間讀文章和看Facebook訊息是很容易讓眼睛疲累的。在手機中修圖也不算是很棒的體驗,電力續航力不強,16GB配置現在只有4GB可用。也許要一支4.7吋的iPhone 6(甚至更大容量),但直到現在我還未放棄我使用兩年半的小手機。

當我在外,我希望多點接觸外面的世界,而不是手機螢幕的世界。細小且輕巧的iPhone 5s只能讓我:

  1. 不要錯過珍貴時刻(但不是留意相片有沒有失焦);
  2. 記下突然所想的點子(但不是完成一篇文章),在街上我比較容易想到一些事情;
  3. 回覆比較重要/緊急的訊息(但不是只顧與人在WhatsApp上有一個很長的對話);
  4. 在街上我會在Google搜尋相關資訊,讓我對該地方有更多的了解。


可見它在手中仍是一台強勁的科技產物。需求上的改變的確不能被忽略,升級手機固然是解決方法,那時候會說它是最好手機,但隨時間會慢慢忘記這話。我愛科技,但是所謂落後的科技並不一定落後,只要重新思考,就會發現它仍是有它的好。我愛iPhone 6s,但也體會到iPhone 5s的可愛。如果有一天iPhone 5s壞了,我還是有很多選擇,例如用便宜的Android手機,甚至再搭配iPod touch便用。科技的意義就是我們可以有更多的處事方式!

My sketch of iPhone 5s/SE and iPod touch

My sketch of iPhone 5s/SE and iPod touch

設計思考Alvin Cheng