Like others who succumbed to the charms of the 5.5” Plus-sized iPhone, I developed a love-hate relationship with it. I loved that big wide screen but I hated how it literally caused me physical pain at times. The main problem? The phone was too long. It would dig into my hip bone at times when sitting down and had to be readjusted.
But the iPhone X wasn’t meant to be an upgrade for people like me who liked the big wide screen of the iPhone 7 Plus. Which really drives me crazy. Instead, Apple focused on the needs of the smaller iPhone users who wanted a bigger screen and dual camera’s but couldn’t handle the size of the Plus.
Back when the iPhone X was still in its formative stages, Apple had two choices before them. And for this first iteration they could only pick one. Either create a taller iPhone 7 or a shorter 7 Plus. They chose the former.
The iPhone 8 Plus has a superior screen aspect ratio. It’s easier to type on, text on all web pages is bigger, and it’s easier to reach the top. I was so excited when the rumors started coming out that Apple was working on a 5.8” screened iPhone that had almost no bezels. I assumed my dream of removing the top and bottom from the Plus was about to come true. Then the rumors started centering around a tall narrow aspect ratio and my dreams were dashed.
The problem with the 7 Plus was the length, not the width. In fact, the width was its main selling point. People who didn’t want to buy a separate tablet could use their Plus as a mini-tablet of sorts since text was bigger than on the regular iPhones. Older people with bad eyesight could see big bold lettering much easier on a Plus.
You get a few more vertical rows of information on the iPhone X but at what cost? The appeal of the 4.7” iPhone is that you can still one-hand most everything. Now on the X something as basic as reaching the control center requires two hands. And reaching the top part of the screen is more difficult than on the 8 Plus. At least on the Plus, you told yourself that the benefit of using two hands was an easier to use keyboard, larger text, and bigger portrait videos.
On the iPhone X there is no change from the 4.7” iPhone in these areas. And yet, you pay just as high a price as if you'd bought a Plus. You lose one-handed maneuverability.
I’m all for big phone screens. But I want bigger keyboards, bigger fonts, and bigger portrait videos in return. And now with my new LTE Apple Watch the price for the big size isn’t so bad because I no longer have to carry that big phone with me when I exercise or other times it would be inconvenient.
From a financial perspective, Apple’s strategy makes sense so I can’t knock them too hard for choosing this route. The iPhone X probably began development two or three years ago. And back then, the Plus-sized iPhone was a much smaller piece of the pie. Apple would have wanted to mitigate their risk of selling a very expensive iPhone with no TouchID and a different user interface. Having only one model of the iPhone X aimed at the majority of your market is the safe way to go.
But in the process, Apple also has just set themselves up for another iPhone 6 type upgrade cycle. There was so much pent up demand in 2014 for an iPhone screen that was bigger than 4” that even Apple was taken by surprise. Now if or when they do make another big fat wide-screened iPhone that has no bezels, there will be another super-big upgrade cycle led by everyone yearning to get back to an iPhone screen not shaped like a grocery store receipt.
If Apple had made two sizes of the iPhone X this year, all the Plus owners would have opted for the bigger screen and probably been very happy with it. And this would have led to less upgrades in 2018 by content X owners content to wait another year after paying $1150 for a phone.
I don’t think that this is the primary reason why there is only a skinny iPhone X. But the thought of building up pressure for another super-cycle sure makes the decision of sticking with one size, that much easier.
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