Are Android phones too big?

Today in Open Source: Do we need smaller Android phones? Plus: Companies plan to switch to Linux from Windows XP, and Microsoft whines about UK switch to open source software

By , ITworld |  Open Source, Android, Linux

When is a phone too large?
Yesterday I ran into a very interesting Ars Technica article from last August that questioned the virtues of larger phones.

You don’t have to look too hard at the slate of new smartphones to see Android’s “bigger is better” ethos. While iPhones have remained resolutely conservatively sized, Android manufacturers continue to push the limits with phones like the 5.5-inch LG Optimus G Pro or the 6.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Mega.

There are some newer phones that do have sub-5-inch screens, fitting the “mini” trend. But these phones also have diminished internals. If you want the latest and best inside, a large outside is unavoidable.

More at Ars Technica

Android Phones Too Large?
Image credit: Ars Technica

I've got an iPhone 5 right now so I have to admit that I was not aware of the lack of choice for smaller Android phones. But the article raises some very good points about the trend of larger and larger phones. When does a phone just get too darned big?

For me the iPhone 5 is pretty much the perfect width, I can easily hold it in one hand while reading or doing something else. I must admit that the height of it sometimes makes it harder for me to reach into the top or bottom corners though. But overall I can use it pretty well with one hand.

I have considered switching to Android a number of times, particularly given Apple's poor icon design choices in iOS 7. But I don't think I could use some of the larger Android phones very well. I have nothing against them, but I don't think they would work well for my use case.

Let me give you a funny example of using my iPhone one-handed. I have two parrots that often like to join me on the couch when I watch TV. They cannot be allowed near each other as one of them detests the other one and will attack her if she gets too close to him. So I keep one on my arm while laying on my side, and the other one nestles in my hand.

This leaves me with one hand to use my iPhone if I need it for something. There's no way with two birds I can even begin to use two hands. Ha. Now I recognize that this use case is...er...unique and that there probably aren't a lot of people out there trying to balance two parrots and a phone. But it does underscore the importance for some of us of one-handed phone use.

I also like to read ebooks on my phone, and it's quite comfortable to hold the iPhone 5 with one hand while reading. It's very light and I can easily turn the pages with my thumb. I'm not so sure it would work as well if the phone was wider, I might not be able to easily wrap my hand around it.

Don't get me wrong, the iPhone 5 isn't perfect either. The current state of visual design in iOS 7 is pretty bad in some ways, and I can understand why somebody would pick Android instead of iOS for that reason. But the size of the iPhone 5 itself makes it work well for me in a physical sense, and I'd need an Android phone that could do the same.

I know there are some smaller Android phones out there, but they seem to lag behind their larger counterparts in terms of power and functionality sometimes. This is disappointing since a user really shouldn't have to give up hardware specs just to have a smaller screen. Hopefully the Android mini phones will catch up to their larger counterparts eventually, so I may yet make the jump to Android if they do.

I wonder if I'm just part of a tiny minority in liking smaller screens though, it seems like more and more people are getting giant-size phones. So perhaps that's why Android manufacturers are moving in that direction.

Have phones gotten too darn big? Or am I just a tiny screen phone luddite? Tell me in the comments below. I'm very interested in knowing if you prefer a larger or smaller phone.

Companies using Windows XP plan to switch to Linux
OMG! Ubuntu! reports that a significant number of companies using Windows XP plan to switch to Linux.

11% of organizations using Windows XP plan to switch to Linux soon, a survey conducted by Tech Pro Research shows. The research group asked organizations still using Windows XP about their plans post-April, when Microsoft ceases providing official support and security fixes for the 11-year old OS.

More at OMG! Ubuntu!

Companies Switch From Windows XP to Linux
Image credit: OMG! Ubuntu!

I'm very glad to see that some companies are getting ready to make the jump to Linux, it's a very smart move that will serve them well.

It is scary and mind-blowing to note that the article also mentions how 37% of companies using Windows XP plan to stick with it past the expiration date. Wow! Talk about a security nightmare over time. Good luck to those folks, they'll need it.

Microsoft barks about open source and the UK government
PC Pro reports that Microsoft doesn't want the UK government to switch to open source software.

Microsoft has hit back against the government's move to open source, claiming the change will cost taxpayers more and result in user "dissatisfaction".

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said last month that government departments should consider switching to the Open Document Format (ODF), giving users the option to flip from Microsoft Office to open source suites.

Microsoft said software shouldn't be chosen on the basis of the file formats it supports, but on user productivity. "This clearly transcends the cost (or otherwise) of any license," the company said.

More at PC Pro

You'll have to excuse me for a moment, I'm laughing so hard that I have to stop writing. Okay, much better now. Microsoft's comments are truly hilarious though, we all know that the folks in Redmond just want to save UK taxpayers some cash by blocking the adoption of open source. Good old Microsoft! Always watching out for the little guy! Ha, ha.

What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.

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