Smartphone displays getting larger are making it harder for women to use them

In the age of making things compact, smartphone makers racing in the opposite directions.

Hi I am Nandini, I have small hands, my clothes have no pockets, and it feels like the tech and fashion industry is planning something against me.

Representational image. Creative credit: Tech2/Nandini Yadav

Representational image. Creative credit: Tech2/Nandini Yadav

This week Apple hosted its much-hyped annual launch event, where it announced three new iPhones — the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and the iPhone XS Max. People threw a lot of shade on the iPhones, complaining about lack of innovation in the new phones, exorbitant price points and more. But what I fail to understand is, why is nobody talking about the unreasonably large screens on these devices?

In the age of making things compact, smartphone makers are racing in the opposite direction. For whom are these phone being made, even?

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The entire range totally dismisses the existence of people like me, who have tiny hands. The iPhone XS has the smallest screen of the three, and yet it’s display diagonally measures a 5.8-inch. The iPhone XR, on the other hand, has a 6.1-inch screen (nope), and the iPhone XS Max has a mammoth 6.5-inch display. (nope nope nope).

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Before you jump in and say, ‘oh the iPhone XS Max has a 6.5-inch display in the same form factor as the iPhone 8 Plus’, let me tell you that, that phone measures a 158.4 x 78.1 x 7.5 mm. Which is not a comfortable size at all. You know what was a comfortable phone size to hold? The iPhone 5S. That was the last of it.

And it’s not just Apple. Each and every smartphone maker is aiming for larger and larger screens, and it’s just getting out of hand, literally!

How am I supposed to use these phones with one hand? Image credit: Tech2/Sheldon Pinto

How am I supposed to use these phones with one hand? Image credit: Tech2/Sheldon Pinto

If we look at some of the most popular smartphones, from the budget to the premium category, large screen on offer is a common theme. The recently launched Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro has a 5.84-inch screen, the new Vivo V11 Pro has a 6.41-inch screen, the OnePlus 6’s display measures ‎6.28-inch, Xiaomi Mi A2 has a 5.99-inch screen, Huawei P20 Pro has a 6.1-inch display.

If you have forgotten, about four years ago, any smartphone that had a screen larger than 5-inch, was not called a smartphone. There was another name for it — the Phablet. This was a smartphone that had a large screen like a tablet, yet it was slightly smaller than a tablet which was considered to be 7-inches and up. However, that nomenclature has pretty much died now, and regardless of how big the screen gets, we are now calling it a ‘smartphone’.

And then the fashion industry doesn’t make it any easier. One odd day somebody just decided that we are removing pockets from the denim jeans that girls wear, and nobody cared to tell us. They do make a heavy stitching on these jeans in the shape of a pocket, where a pocket should be. But it's a trick, no pocket actually exists.

They did, however, add the pockets in the skirts and dresses, and even wedding gowns (!), but here is where the tech and fashion industry conspiracy comes in. These pockets fit my tic-tacs and a lip balm very well, but because the phones have an interesting new screen size now, half the phone is sticking out of the pocket, like a joey peeping out of a Kangaroo’s pouch. Just look at the image below to get an idea how well the iPhone X fits in a regular women's jeans pocket.

Look how that phone peeps out of the pocket? Image Credit: Tech2/ Sheldon Pinto

Look how that phone peeps out of the pocket? Image Credit: Tech2/ Sheldon Pinto

I use the Samsung Galaxy S9 and it doesn’t fit in my clutch bags, my pockets, and just carrying it around in my hands means I’d either drop the phone and break the screen, or lose the phone, or both. And if I carry a large tote bag, that turns into a treasure hunt of its own, when the phone rings, because the fashion industry has also stopped making compartments in bags now. They are basically pretty looking knapsacks!

This is why I want to urge smartphone makers, to stop for a second, take a deep breath, really (I mean really), look around the demography of its users (all its users, not just men). Try to understand that we need great performing phones, yes, but we should also be able to actually hold and use them.

And to the fashion industry, #WeWantPockets.

Please stop making me feel like I am a slave to my own phone because, for a long time, I have spent 12 out of my 24 hours thinking “where do I keep this damn phone?”, “where the hell did the phone go now?”

Help me!

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