It was only a few years ago when the idea of a 5+ inch display on a smartphone was unreal. With most hovering around four inches at the time, a phone that big seemed impossible to hold. We've come a long way since then, but it appears another wave of large displays will soon hit us, and they are all at least six inches.
Thanks to improving technology, phones with larger screens no longer require huge bezels to house the connectors, leading to the recent trend of edge-to-edge displays with smaller foreheads and chins. With mobile video viewership expect to rise to 179.4 million Americans by 2020, OEMs are anticipating consumer demand for even larger screens. This fall, it appears we'll be getting a wave of them — unfortunately, they will be expensive.
It starts with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. Always known as the series to push the envelope on screen size, the latest iteration of the Galaxy Note continues this tradition in earnest. The Note 9 has a 6.4" Super AMOLED display that is indeed a sight to behold. It is not only larger than the previous year by .1 inch, but it is also the most massive display of any phone in the series.
However, the Galaxy Note 9 isn't just a pretty screen. It's a powerhouse with a spec sheet that would make anyone excited. Stereo speakers tuned by AKG, Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, 6 or 8 GB of RAM to name a few. But this large display and top-notch performance don't come cheap. The entry model (with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage) arrives at the "reasonable" price of $999.99. And if you want the best of the best, the top-tier variant is $1249.99.
According to rumors, Apple's next lineup of phones has no regards for customers with small hands. Leveraging the screen bending technology from the iPhone X, rumors indicate that Apple will be releasing three phones, two of which have a display over 6 inches.
Just like the iPhone X, the bezels are minimal, reducing the overall size of the phone. However, there is only so much reduction you can do with such a large display, making it hard to believe these devices will be manageable for those with smaller hands.
But what about the third phone? Well, that phone will be 5.8 inches, with a body similar to iPhone X. While this may help the iPhone 8 crowd who felt a phone that size was manageable, for those users that wish for the glory days of the iPhone 4 and its 4-inch display, you are out of luck. While there have been hopes for an iPhone SE 2, rumors indicate this will probably be the name of the 6.1" LCD model if there's an SE 2 at all.
And don't get me started about the price. With the iPhone X starting at $999.99, there is no way Apple priced the two OLED models at anything less than $1,000. There's a chance the SE model may be around $699–$799 (according to rumors), but don't hold your breath.
Another big smartphone release this fall is the latest iteration of the V series. LG has released several mid-cycle refreshes this year, but their best smartphone has always been the newest entry in the V series. The V40 ThinQ will be no difference.
Rumors indicate that the LG V40 will not increase the size of its predecessor. Before you shout "yay," please remember that the LG V30 (and all its variants) have a 6" POLED display already. The LG V40 ThinQ should be smaller in size thanks to the inclusion of display notch, but regardless, this won't be an easy phone to hold.
And as for cost, let just say LG has been giving us several head-scratchers this year. The V30S ThinQ, which is nothing more than a V30 with some AI enhancements, was priced at $929.99. While it was discounted $200 initially, that still isn't its MSRP. The V35 ThinQ, which is a V30 with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (instead of the 835), was priced at $899.99.
Since the LG V40 ThinQ needs to be a meaningful upgrade over the V35 ThinQ (and rumors indicate this will be the case), expect a pretty high price to match. We suspect LG will price the V40 around $999.99.
A surprise to no one, the Huawei Mate 20 and 20 Pro are rumored to have large displays. As the previous iteration has shown us, Huawei isn't afraid to put a big screen in this series of phones, with the last three models all having 6-inch screens. But rumors indicate Huawei is tired of the 6-inch display, and instead wants to push the envelope.
Early rumors indicate that the Mate 20 will have a 6.3" AMOLED display. However, last year, only the Pro version was an official release in the US. If this turns out the be the case this year, then the next Huawei phone we get will be huge. How huge, you may ask? A 6.9-inch OLED panel is rumored to be included. We're talking a tablet that also happens to be a phone.
As for price, Huawei has always been one of the more reasonable OEMs when it comes to pricing in the US. Based on the Mate 10 Pro pricing and some assumptions, we believe this phone will be priced around $899–$949. The lowest on our list so far, but far from being considered inexpensive.
Thanks to a recent leak, almost everything has been revealed about the upcoming sequel to Google's Pixel 2 lineup. Based on a video, we now know that the Pixel 3 XL will have a 6.7" display. While there is some room for hesitation as all other rumors indicated a 6.2-inch display, no matter which turns out to be true, we know the Pixel 3 XL will have a large screen.
Also, unlike the other phones on our list, Pixel 3 XL is rumored to include dual front-facing speakers, which limit how small the chin can be. If the rumored 6.7" display turns out to be true, this phone will be massive even for those with larger hands.
As for the price, unless Google decides to revive their former Nexus strategy of top specs at budget-friendly prices (like the Nexus 5), it is more than likely Google will match the price of their competition and partners and push the Pixel 3 into the really expensive territory. Based on the Pixel 2 XL pricing, I expect an entry price of $949 and a higher storage capacity model at $1,049.
- Don't Miss: Everything We Know So Far About Google's Pixel 3
While the majority of flagship phones coming out in the Fall will be pretty big, there is a silver lining. The first is the Pixel 3. It will share the same spec as its big brother, but with a more reasonable screen size of 5.3 inches. However, it too will have a high price tag (although, lower than its big brother). Sadly, that's about it when it comes to flagship phones.
The only other option is to go to midrange phones. Thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 710, we will soon see top-tier midrange phones that operate very closely to flagships but with a few sacrifices and a lower price tag. There is no guarantee these phones will have a smaller screens, but in OEMs' pursuit to keep prices low, there's a better chance you'll find small display sizes here than with flagships.
Also, thanks to TCL, two iconic brands are being revived, and both are offering smaller displays, with one of them downright puny. The BlackBerry KEY 2 is pretty easy to hold for most users with its 4.5" display and full physical keyboard. And while it isn't the cheapest midrange phone, it is a bargain when compared to other flagship phones at $649.99.
Also, thanks to AndroidPolice, we got our first look at the first Palm phone in years, which will be using the Android operating system. While its official name is unknown, what we do know is that it will have a tiny 3.3" screen. While its use of Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 does qualify it as an entry-level phone, for those looking for a new small phone, this might be your best option.
While big screens do have their advantages, it comes at the expense of alienating a group of people born with smaller hands. Like a pair of new sneakers that a store no longer has in your size, you can either wobble your way with sneakers too big for your feet or stick with your old pair a bit longer. And based on the fall lineup, it looks like many users will be better off with the latter choice — especially considering those prices.