At this point there’s no way I’m every going back to an iPhone. I simply rely too much on being able to customize my device, more so than the base OS itself, and that’s not something the iPhone is ever likely to get. Still, every time I see my friends’ iPhone 5, I can’t help but wish that there was an Android phone that was just like it, hardware-wise.
I’m torn when it comes to the question of how big a phone screen should be. On the one hand, I’m fascinated by the thought of a “tabletphone”, since I don’t actually do much calling on my phone as it is. A bigger display means more screen real-estate I can use for my own custom apps, though I don’t consume any screen-dependent multimedia on my phone, making a large screen somewhat unnecessary in that regard.
On the other hand, I actually completely agree with Apple on the iPhone being an ideal size for one handed use. My 4.3-inch Galaxy S II is small by today’s high end Android phone standards, and while both it and larger phones can be used with one hand, it’s just a completely different feeling to hold an iPhone 5, in my opinion. It just feels so much more like it’s made for one handed use, and it never feels like it’s going to slip no matter what I do. The tall display is in my opinion a great way to increase the screen size without going away from that basic design principle, and unlike on a tablet where I very much prefer the 4:3 screen ratio due to viewing documents , I think a tall screen on a phone works very well.
I also very much like the screen itself. 1136 x 640 pixels look beautiful on a 4-inch device, and I don’t think there’s any point in having a higher PPI than that. Android phones more or less need to have a 1080p display to be considered top of the line these days, and I cannot for the life of my see the purpose of it. I can easily see the upgrade from 800 x 480 to 1280 x 800, but from 1280 x 800 to 1920 x 1080? Sorry, but no. I think the iPhone 5’s screen resolution is just in the sweet spot where it looks awesome without adding expensive and battery-consuming hardware almost just for the sake of it.
Design-wise, I also like the iPhone 5. I imagine a direct Android version would have a home button and two capacitive buttons on the side of it, with everything else being the same. I’m not a fan of Samsung’s move to rounded designs (which is likely due to Apple’s lawsuits, however), and while I like the general look of Sony’s phones, that’s perhaps a bit too square around the edges. The HTC One is great in many ways, just too big, and with a camera technology that- while based on the right premises- is executed in a way that makes it a no go for me personally. The iPhone 5 is again exactly what I prefer, although a smaller Sony phone or HTC One would also do the trick.
The thing I don’t like about the iPhone 5’s hardware is the thickness. I’d much rather see a thicker device with a larger, removable battery, and that goes for other devices that are going for the thing factor too. It’s not just that I would like the extra battery capacity, it’s also that I like to be able to feel my phone in my pocket, and I can’t do that if it’s the thickness of a bus ticket.
There are smaller Android phones, but unfortunately it seems like smaller also means lower end in the Android world. If you go down to the fairly standard 4.3-inch screen size, you often get stripped down versions of the ~5-inch flagship devices, with a lot of internal hardware like chip power and RAM missing. As you move even further down, you get budget models that are essentially just toys. What I want is a 4-inch device with a 1280 x 720 display (for the sake of using a standard resolution), a quad core chip, 2GB of RAM, a good camera, LED flash, NFC, microSDXC expandability, and an above average battery life. Those are far from absurd specs, yet they seem to be reserved for larger devices.
As for the tabletphone question? Well, I quite like the Asus Fonepad concept. However, instead of having a 5-inch phone transform into a 10-inch tablet, I’d like to see a 4-inch phone transform into an 8-inch tablet, one with some sort of accurate pen input. That would make an awesome device for my use, but it seems like I’m alone in wanting smaller devices these days.