Weekend Open Forum: Your ideal smartphone and tablet screen size?

By on March 23, 2012, 7:00 PM

Over the last three years we've seen screen sizes on smartphones vary from a smallish 3 inches to a massive 5.3-inch on the Galaxy Note. It's a similar story with tablets, only those started out at around 10.1-inches and have gotten smaller from there.

Meanwhile, despite longstanding rumors of Apple releasing a larger iPhone or smaller iPad, the company has stuck to its guns with the original 3.5- and 9.7-inch form factors of those devices.

I'm all for diversity and choice, but there's a point where a phone is just too big to carry around hassle free and a tablet is too small for the tasks it's intended to handle. We've asked the same question about laptops before, but now we want to know: What's your preferred smartphone and tablet size?

Personally, the 3.5-inch form factor of the iPhone suits me well, but I could easily get used to a ~4-inch device if it doesn't add much bulk. Anything over that seems unnecessary and would actually hurt portability. As for tablets, I think both 10- and 7-inch sizes are here to stay. So far I prefer the former.

User Comments: 51

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Recycle said:

Moving from the 3.2" HTC Aria to the 4.5" HTC Vivid took some time to get used to.

And you know what I prefer? The Aria, hands down. Give me something with that form factor, but the power of the Vivid, and I would buy it in a second. Please let pocket-breaking phones be a phase.

(That said--I actually bought my first game for the Vivid recently (Dead Space), and it does look beautiful on the 4.5" screen, and the 3.2" wouldn't provide enough real estate to enjoy it.)

Modena said:

I'd have to agree with that the iPhones screen and form factor is perfect, for me. For a smartPHONE, if I wanted to carry a tablet around with me always I'd buy one.

ravy said:

4.5in phone

10in tablet

Guest said:

4.65" Phone w/ on-screen buttons like the Galaxy Nexus.

This is a great idea because even though the screen size is much larger because of the on-screen buttons, the phone overall isn't actually larger than a 4.3" phone and then when you want to watch movies you can use the entire screen.

10.1" Tablet

Guest said:

7" Nook Color seems to work well for me...

anguis said:

I don't have nor need a tablet. If I need something on the go, I will need a place to put it. If I have to put it some place besides my pants pocket, might as well be a laptop. Any smartphone I have must be able to fit in my pocket comfortably.

Guest said:

my 4inch droid 3 seems pretty nice, though i wish the phone itself wasn't as heavy

Aboutto said:

I think over 4 is to big for a phone, as for a tablet I have a kindle fire and iPad in my household and I enjoy both so it's nice to have the option. I wonder of someone will make a tablet even bigger like 16 inches.

Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

I haven't had much time to play with 4"+ smartphones, I know there's plenty of people that swear by them but for me the iPhone's 3.5" screen is suitable for smartphone kind of use and it's small enough that carrying it around is not bothersome.

As for tablets, I have an iPad and a Kindle Fire. Personally there are only very specific scenarios where I like to use them, and each size has its advantages, but 90% of the time you'll find me going back to the laptop instead since it's much more useful. The larger screen of the iPad gets you closer to true productivity without really reaching that point, while the 7" Kindle is fine for reading and occasional media viewing.

Guest said:

4.3" MINIMUM. Anything less just seems like a toy. As for resolution, 720p is really the minimum for a gadget lover like myself. 1280x800 on my GNote is just icing on the cake

Guest said:

22'' and ... waiting for them .. guess I'll need bigger pockets too ^^

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

I have 4inch sony ericsson x10. I wouldnt go any smaller. I find the phone fantastic, with slightly curved edges on the back, so it fits perfectly in my pocket.

On the other hand, i find the iphone screen generally small. But what i really dont like, is the thickness and blockiness of it, and the huge waste of space above and below the screen.

Tablet is 10 inch android. Would not go smaller for a general tablet.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

ravy said:

4.5in phone

10in tablet


captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:


lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

As an owner of a Lumia 900 (don't ask me how, can't say ), and having owned a Focus which is 4", I can honestly say 4.3" is the sweet spot; in fact anything below 4" just feels like a toy to me.

If it wasn't for the iPhone's great design and materials, I'd also consider it one.

Guest said:

Can't go below 4.3" after the HD2. The small screen size is one of the main reasons I dislike the iPhone too.

Ideal size is probably around 4.7" for a smartphone imho.

For a tablet - 10" is decent but 11-12" might be perfect.

Guest said:

I have a seven inch tablet and first thing I thought after a while of using it was how it could almost be passable as a phone. I'm a two phone person anyway, I always have a small burner phone on me at all times, then a larger, better equipped phone for when I'm not doing something physical or where it could get damaged. Five to six inches for the latter would probably be ideal.

madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I don't have a tablet, but it's always been stuck in my head that it would be cool to have one that was the letter size or A4. But of course, I'm clearly insane since I've never owned/used one so I have no perspective. =p

Guest said:

I really like the 3.5 on the iPhone....Is a bigger screen nicer to look at...sure...but I like the form factor of the iPhone...because I have lig it around all day I don't want anything larger. It fits in my pocket perfectly..I seen some of the larger phones and they are too large. If I want a larger screen I use my tablet...Its only a phone....and the iPhone screen is so clear it doesn't matter that its only 3.5". If somehow they could make the screen 4" but keep the same form factor then I'm all for it!

Guest said:

I had the 4.3 inch Samsung Galaxy S2 but when I saw the 5.3 inch Note, I fell in love. I carry it everywhere. It fits into my pocket perfectly and I love it that I dont need to use a tablet too.

Steve Steve said:

4.3" minimum for me, I love the Galaxy Note and that's about perfect for my needs.

Ithryl said:

4.6" for phone and 7" for tablet. I kinda enjoy reading things more on the 7" screen than I do on a 10" tablet for some reason. 5.3" phone felt too big in the hand, 4.6" or 4.3" was just ok, own Galaxy Nexus myself.

TrekExpert TrekExpert said:

6.65 inch is the best. Galaxy Nexus is just the right size.

Nimbifer said:

As for phone it should be 4.2" - 4.6" and when we speak about TABs I really looking forward for Samsung Galaxy Tab 11.6. There's no big difference between carrying 10.1" and 11.6" tab (none of them fit in my pocket), but I would like to have bigger screen for my tasks.

Guest said:

My last phone which was a 4" screen was the right size for me. My current phone, Atrix 2, is 4.3", and although the bigger screen size is nice, it is awkward to carry around in my pocket with an Otter box defender.

One good thing about phones these days is they come in different sizes so the consumer does have a lot of different choices.

p51d007 said:

I've had 2 large smartphones.

Dell Streak, Samsung G Note. 5" screen size, no less.

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

Ummm I use my laptop for any real entertainment.

Small screens are just that...small screens.

Phones are good for email/texting. About it.

7"? Very small.

4"? Way to small.

Just my biased $.02.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Phone <= 4.3", haven't owned a tablet so far, as I am unsure whether they are useful investment atm, but having tried few I think iPad just about gets it right.

drfan said:

3.5" +/- 0.2 for phone. For tablet, 8" is the perfect size for me. 7" is a bit small and 10" is way too big

drfan said:

Also, I prefer 16:9 for smaller screens (7", 8" and 4:3 for large 10" screen

veLa veLa said:

Normal Galaxy S2 4.3 inch is great.

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

Tablets (Android) 4x 7", 2x 10.1" right now.. I use to have over 25 tablets for testing, but 8" and 9" they were different in a way. Smartphone (Android) 3x 3.2", 1x 4.3" (this one is perfect fits on my SUV chubby hole on the dash, my pocket. Everything here is Overclocked and all the adware and bloatware removed.

yRaz yRaz said:

The 3.5" screen on my LG quantum is perfect for me. I think 3.7" would be as high as I'd like to go.

I don't own, or plan to own, a tablet. If I had to have a guess a 10" screen at 1366X768 would be perfect for me. If I found something at 1440X900 I would most likely jump on it. I love the dying 16:10 ratio. I'm not in the market for a tablet until windows 8 comes out though. I refuse to buy Apple products and Android just isn't that stable or consistent across devices to appeal to me. I had no desire to upgrade from my blackberry until WP7 came out.

gibbstar gibbstar said:

4" max screen size for me. Anything larger is going to be a hassle getting in and out of my pants pockets. When I wear a suit, or at least a dress jacket, I do have a larger pocket to use then, but overall a 4" would be big enough for all my needs. Otherwise I'll have to start carrying a purse... no thanks.

Smaller phones and larger tablets gets my vote.

monkeychef23 monkeychef23 said:

After my Evo 4G, I probably would not go below 4.3". The other thing besides screen size is also how big the phone is. You could have a decent sized phone and a huge screen if there is a small bezel. I would like that a lot actually.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

After my Evo 4G, I probably would not go below 4.3". The other thing besides screen size is also how big the phone is. You could have a decent sized phone and a huge screen if there is a small bezel. I would like that a lot actually.

Like the photos of the "new iPhone 5"? :P That thing looks delicious.

Guest said:

~4" smartphone

~10" tablet with docking station for home use

18 to 20" tablet with docking station for work (i wish :) )

i would love to experience the "tablet" as shown in the star trek series.

vlad4861 said:

4&quot; phone and 10&quot; tablet if display has the same size. For bigger phones: the discomfort in my pants because of size (: outweighed the advantage of a larger display size. I do mostly browsing and facebook, but don't play video games on my phone thou, so players would b prob ok with bigger size phones. Same principle for tablet: at work 10&quot; is big enough to take notes, write short reports and watch movies alone, but bigger tablets are too awkward to carry around all the time (something I have to do at work)

Guest said:

My personal preference: Excellent sunlight legibility is a MUST for me...

Smartphone: 4" ~ 4.3" , preferably below 140 grams.

Tablet: 10" or slightly larger (which is compatible with MS Office & USB printers)


Guest said:

3.5 - 4" in phone 8- 10" in tablet

Guest said:

17-18 inches for tablets. Like a notebook without keyboard.

soldier1969 soldier1969 said:

Went from the image shown above Iphone 4 to a Galaxy Note 5.3 inch, it took me a couple weeks to adjust to it but now it doesnt seem as massive. Surprisingly Its about the same weight and thickness of the smaller Iphone I was able to add a thin protective case for it that didnt add much bulk. Sometimes I dont even notice such a big phone in my pocket honestly. I was tired of waiting on Apple to get with the program to go over a 4 inch screen size. I get lots of reactions from people that sheer size of it and clarity of the screen is amazing. I now dont miss the Iphone since having them since release. They just took too long going bigger last years 4S was big letdown to me so Ive moved on and very happy now.

Guest said:

I like the iPad 9.7" screen so much that I bought a 9.7" Kindle DX for dedicated reading.

Guest said:

I have a Samsung Galaxy s II from t-mobile (t989) and its perfect in my hands at 4.5inches. I couldn't imagine going with a smaller display like an iphone or other. I have bad eyes even with contacts so a big screen is pretty much a must to reduce eye strain.

on the tablet side....I cant find anything a tablet can do that my laptop or phone cant already do, so no matter the size there would be a redundancy that I wouldn't need.


Kraemepoo said:

For a phone, nothing larger than 4" as It has to be able sit comfortably in my pocket up to 16 hours a day. I also won't buy any phone that needs a case to survive. It must be strong enough to make it at least two years with NO added protection. (Currently using LG Quantum Windows phone, steel back, rubberized edges, feels as solid as a rock.)

And until tablets fold into my pocket, I'll never have a use for them. My phone has enough functionality to hold me over until I get to a real PC.

Guest said:


- 4.0" for small hands

- 4.3" for big hands..

Going less than those will be troublesome for a person like me who liked to play hack and slash games and watch series and movies on my phone.. Even browsing the web..

I think people who says 3.5" is good enough for them will find themselves doing more things with their phone if they will be using 4.0"...



ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Around 3.5" for a phone. Could go a bit higher if this doesn't make the phone bigger. 7" for a tablet. Don't have one, but based on the e-readers I had it looks like a sweet spot. Also important is the weight and display resolution.

I've always loved the small side of devices, from the Psion 5mx to the Fujitsu P1510D, I always want to go a little lower than the standard. Only problem is my eyesight is getting a little worse with age, so I don't know how long I'll be able to enjoy my love of tiny pixels.

Guest said:

The 4.65" on the Galaxy Nexus is an absolute joy! It fits my hand perfectly, it's great for games and video and reading and every other task imaginable, and it fits my pockets perfectly. My girlfriend loves it so much she wants to escape her contract and get the same device. I honestly thought she would say it's too big, but since she carries her phone in her purse, it doesn't matter.

I don't have petite girl hands, so 3.5" is a bit lacking. When I see one now, I feel that 3.5" is shockingly small and inadequete. I suppose if I was a mal-nourished hipster weirdo with skinny jeans then I might be more inclined for a smaller device, but I guess that's the market for iphones anyways

I have no comment or opinion about tablet size. No interest, really.

captainawesome captainawesome said:

4" screen size but then the phone still can't be bigger than the iphone4. Even the Samsung Galaxy S2 is too big for me to lug around.

Guest said:

Galaxy Note 5.3" and loving it. Anything smaller, now seems ridiculously irrelevant.

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