Big-screen smartphone shipments soar, now account for one-third of market

“When it comes to smartphones, these days bigger seems to be better,” Andrea Chang reports for The Los Angeles Times. “Worldwide shipments of smartphones with screens measuring 5 inches or more soared 369% in the first quarter compared with a year earlier, a growth rate substantially faster than that of the overall market. Worldwide big-screen devices represented 34% of smartphone shipments, according to market research firm Canalys.”

“‘The trend is unmistakably toward larger-screen handsets at the high end of the market,’ said Canalys analyst Jessica Kwee,” Chang reports. “She noted that Samsung held a 44% share of devices with displays of 5 inches or more.”

Chang reports, “‘Consumers now expect high-end devices to have large displays, and Apple’s absence in this market will clearly not last long,’ she said. ‘Apple plainly needs a larger-screen smartphone to remain competitive, and it will look to address this in the coming months.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote on January 3rd:

Some portion of [those who want larger smartphone displays than Apple currently offers] are too stupid, blind, or pathologically anti-Apple to have ever purchased an iPhone, regardless of screen size.

This is not to say that Apple, the world’s most valuable tech company, rolling in more billions of dollars than they know what to do with, shouldn’t have a larger screen iPhone available by now. They should. It’s criminal malpractice on the part of Tim Cook that they don’t. The sales Apple have left and continue to leave on the table should have been keeping Phil Schiller up at night for at least the last year.

Yes, Apple should have a bigger iPhone yesterday, but this is just simple logic: Not all phablet owners would have bought an iPhone even if a bigger iPhone was available.

We understand fragmentation. We understand the issues of producing apps that work on devices with various screen sizes (intimately).

None of it matters because too much of the market wants an iPhone with a bigger screen. Developers will simply work harder for the premium customers found on the premium platform. Period.

This omission – not iMacs and Mac Pros that miss Christmas or anything else – is Tim Cook’s biggest mistake to date. Apple should have a bigger iPhone on the market by now, but since, for some inexplicable reason a company with more cash at their disposal than Intel Corp. is worth doesn’t, the sooner the better.

And, as we wrote on January 23rd:

When Apple finally extracts their collective head from their collective ass and ships iPhone models with larger screens, they’ll do more damage to slavish copier Samsung than all of their endless, plodding patent infringement cases combined.

We believe that Apple became infatuated with the fact that only they could produce small, thin smartphones with an efficient OS that could work with the small batteries that these compact iPhones housed. “Nobody else can do such things.” Meanwhile, battery-hogging Android leeches like Samsung slapped larger screens on their phones to hide the fact that they needed significantly larger batteries in order to run for even a few hours (Android phones are notorious for running out of charge).

Far too many otherwise intelligent consumers saw little or nothing of Apple’s considerable engineering superiority (the iPhone 5s is simply the best smartphone anyone has ever produced), these otherwise intelligent consumers only saw iPhone’s smaller screens. They didn’t see Android’s inefficiency or inferior ecosystem, they only saw phones with larger screens.

If we’ve heard from one person who went with an Android phone for a larger screen who in fact really wanted an iPhone – “I’d have gotten an iPhone if only they had a larger screen” – we’ve heard it from a thousand. These are top tier, cream-of-the-crop customers (i.e. Apple’s target demographic), not low information cheapskates. They want to be Apple customers and participate heavily in Apple’s ecosystems, but, for a few years now, Apple has been blowing these sales by failing to deliver the product these high value customers desired. It’s inexplicable; any downsides (fragmentation, inventory management, etc.) are vastly outweighed by the vast sales potential to those who should be Apple customers, but are now carrying a plastic piece of crap from Samsung.

Bottom line: Apple screwed the pooch on this one. Shit or get off the pot, Tim.

Finally, as we wrote on January 28th:

No iPhone with a screen larger than 4-inches – it’s now 2014 – despite a plethora of high-value customers who obviously want to buy one, but have turned to other platforms in order to get a smartphone with a larger screen. Oops. Mismanaged.

One-handed interaction is a concocted load of bullshit attempting to cover for not having a proper lineup of iPhones offering customers varied display sizes at even this late date.

MacDailyNews iPhone screen size poll
Source: MacDailyNews

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “David G.” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Analysts expect Apple to finally offer iPhones with larger screens this year – April 21, 2014
Apple in April 2013: ‘Customers want what we don’t have’ – April 7, 2014


    1. Shipped is NOT sold. MDN should know better. Also Chinese sales to people with little money may use cheap big ass phones as their entire computer effort.

      When and of Apple ships a larger phone, they will have already solved any screen issues.

      Just saying.

        1. “MDN didn’t write the article.” Very true. But MDN did ramble on incessantly about how bigger phones are selling.

          Could larger phones be SELLING very well??? They could be but the people that are selling them (samsung) chose not to talk about it. For a company that takes lying to be a part of business, you have to wonder just how many people are BUYING and KEEPING those large phones. BOGO sales double the number but do not mean that the second phone is ever used (except as a back up phone). And when you go to the discount stores, you see TONS of large screen plastic cheap phones….. So everyone MUST want one….. cause they made their way to the discount bench.

          No arguments, just saying that facts are more important for business decisions than marketing rants. But marketing rants do get more anal….yst blog hits. LOL

    2. Actually if you actually took the time to look at the chart you will realize that what it’s considering ‘big phones’ is screen sizes larger than 4.5 so 1/3 of all smartphones sold have screens larger than 4.5″. However 2/3 of all phones sold have screens larger than what Apple currently offers which is 4″.

      1. You don’t expect blind idiots to believe in statistics they don’t like do you. Hey it could be 80% big screens and many will still be arguing its just a fad. Sadly some of them were clearly high up in Apple and seemed to believe their own hype about only Apple decides what the market wants. Oh well as with the mini iPad better late than never, they seem to have jumped the shark this time I just hope its a salutary lesson.

    1. Wow, just in time for Apple to swoop in and take the entire high end.

      Read MDNs second take – spot on. In particular the reason for those large screens, in the first place.

      Now, as anyone who’s followed Apple over the decades knows, Apple is always late entering the market, only to remake it in their own image. Can’t wait to see the carnage they’re about to release upon the fragmatoid followers. The Fandroids are in for a rude awakening.

  1. The extensive use of bitmapped controls in iOS through version 6 severely limited Apple’s flexibility with respect to screen resolution and app fragmentation.

    Apple most likely ousted Scott Forestall for being too slow to resolve this issue.

    iOS 7’s use of dynamic text, non-bitmap buttons, and parametric layout has solved the app fragmentation problem.

    Apple is now free to explore a variety of screen sizes and resolutions without causing nightmares for developers and preserving the top quality apps experience iOS users expect.

    1. What a shame that Apple couldn’t have bothered to use the advanced text options to the user’s advantage – i.e., offering the user complete text and readability controls from day one. While MDN followers are loath to admit it, iOS7 turned off a lot of would-be customers who are now using Android devices. The “shipped versus sold” argument doesn’t hold up. iPhone sales are not keeping up with the smartphone market — perhaps half of the lost sales are because Apple doesn’t offer the screen sizes that many people want, and half of the lost sales are because adults with less than perfect vision dislike the iOS7 whitewashed skinny sans-serif font GUI. Waiting for Apple to address these two HUGE issues is like waiting for Israel and Palestine to live in harmony.

      1. What a load of crap. If you went to android because you were turned off by iOS7, then you deserve what you got. We’ll see you back when your contract is up. Furthermore, if MDN would take the stick out of their as, they’d know perhaps it was Steve who kept the screen size at the current level until the mechanics could be worked out. What’s the point of a larger screen if the battery time runs out? God, you’d never hear the end of whining about that one. MDN would get their panties in a bunch and scream for someone’s head. Battery life is an art and Apple’s one of, if not the best at getting the best life out of a rechargeable. Until they solve that, I seriously don’t think we’ll see no 5 or 6 inch phablets.

        1. Agreed, battery life is paramount with a mobile device, far more immediate than any precious UI twerk for almost every user. Who cares about the font on a car’s dashboard more than its mileage?

        2. I also agree battery life is one of the most important factors in making a good phone. However, you are wrong about the bigger screen phones, they generally have a far better battery life than the iPhone which is pretty bad in any case, let alone for a phone with such a small screen.

      2. Baloney. Show any proof of your claims that half of the lost sales were due to anything you claim. In fact, it’s easier to read black text on a white background, plus Apple has advanced text size controls and contrast and bold controls in iOS 7. And san serif fonts have been proven to be easier to read than serif fonts, particularly in smaller font sizes.

        My wife is an optometrist, and she simply has people increase their font sizes on their phones, sometimes in lieu of changing/buying glasses. Any kind of smartphone, not just iPhones or Android phones.

  2. I’m not saying that some people don’t want larger screens, but at the same time a lot of this will be people taking what’s available. You could argue that if people are buying them (and paying more for them) it doesn’t matter, but are people upgrading and staying with large screens?

    My dream would be a larger screen but with a smaller bezel so that the overall phone size didn’t go up by the same amount the screen did. That’s a different proposition than just wanting a bigger screen.

    People are obviously buying these phones, but largely within markets that other reports say aren’t worth apple bothering with. I don’t think it’s as simplistic as Apple just not selling people larger phones when they want them.

  3. Consumers having devices pushed in their faces is not the same thing as consumer “demand”. When you take other options away, people are left with choosing, well, what’s left. And if OEMs are listening to analysts and consultants who ride buzz waves, of course they’re going to push more large screen devices on the market; it’s the in-non-Apple-thing to do.

    This reminds me of Samsung replacing all their feature phones with craptastic Android based phones just to bolster their smartphone shipments.

    If Apple thinks they can produce a product with a larger display without sacrificing the user experience, then they will do it, but they’ve never been a company that chases market share for the sake of market share.

  4. “Apple screwed the pooch on this one. Shit or get off the pot, Tim.”

    Apple didn’t screw anything. I hate these type of armchair quarterback rants passed off as absolute truths.

    As has been stated time and time again (even by the lord almighty himself, Steve Jobs), Apple will not release a product they are not happy with. Stop blaming Tim Cook for EVERYTHING. Steve Jobs didn’t even want a smaller iPad… Tim Cook released it. If there ever was a time to expect Apple to push outwards, it’s with Tim Cook running the company. But don’t expect Apple to release a product with a feature for the sake of having that feature. IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN.

    As they’ve stated time and time again, Apple firmly believes that these devices need to be one-handed devices and they won’t release a product on the market that isn’t. Having to use two hands is a huge detriment to usability and therefor experience. Apple has already added a feature help ease the move to a larger display by adding the slide from left gesture to move back a screen instead of needing to reach in the upper left corner to hit the “back” button. And they’ve also been working on moving towards a more universal UI layout positioning system since iOS 6, that would allow apps to fit into any screen size/ratio/density.

    Apple could’ve released larger phones.
    Apple could’ve released cheaper phones.

    Apple could rule the world by now!


    Better to concentrate on perfecting what have and then moving in new directions, rather than just running in every direction at once and getting lost.

    1. I agree with the don’t-release-until-ready.

      But… try typing with one hand, or more precisely one thumb. Especially in landscape orientation.

      Without something like Swype or the keyboard mashed to either left or right of the screen in landscape mode, how exactly are you supposed to *effectively* use all major iPhone features (and typing is definitely a big one) with just one hand?

      1. Typing in landscape mode is a convenience feature for the purpose of using two hands to type. That’s the point of the wider, larger keyboard – easier to type when composing longer messages, notes, etc. ..And that was even pointed out during the original demo.

        “One handed” use doesn’t mean for everything, obviously, it would be impossible to do any kind of multi-touch gesture with one hand, the point is that you can use the phone for almost everything with only one hand – except of course for apps that are designed for two hand use.

        Furthermore, anytime you can use two hands, why wouldn’t you? It will usually always make it easier, but creating a device that practically forces people to use two hands all the time is a step backwards in usability.

      2. That’s the most ridiculous statement yet — “try typing with one hand, or more precisely one thumb. Especially landscape orientation.”

        Really?!? The one-thumb/one-hand operation is for holding the phone with one hand upright. No one expects to be able to reach all the way across an iPhone 4S, and especially not a 5 or 5S, with one thumb.

  5. For a company filled with so many smart people, Apple still doesn’t seem to be getting the message. Apple’s coming out with a new model 4.7 inches in screen size still does not fully address the competition they are facing from Samsung and others. The new screen should be 4.9 inches, minimum. Why is Apple seemingly snow blind to the phone size that is their real competition?

    1. Did you ever think that maybe, just maybe, all those smart people at Apple know a little more about making smartphones, and in what sizes, than you or some dumb*ss blogger? That maybe, just maybe, sizes are not dictated by what Samsung sells but perhaps by usability, battery life, etc.?

  6. A lot of the 20 something kids my children know are jumping the Apple ship to Samdung, lured by bigger screens and 16 megapixel cameras. Apple can stem the tide by getting those larger screens out there, and keeping the current 4″ as an option. The sooner the better.

    1. I see just the opposite. Teens my kids know want iPhones because they have better games, better battery life, and are cooler.

      Plus, that 16 megapixel camera is just for the stat geeks. Have you seen someone trying to take a photo on their Samsung? The image on the screen jumps around all over the place, just like an old HP 3 megapixel camera I had about 12 years ago.

  7. Seems to me no one is losing sleep at Apple for lost sales to bigger screens. When Androids realize they have crap they will buy the larger iPhone when it is available. You can either be the tortoise or the hare. Anybody remember who won the race?

    Even Jobs said what he would do with the Mac (meaning pre OSX): he would milk it for all it’s got.

    1. For me, the 4″ iPhone 5/c/s already pushes the limits of one-handed operation and easy pocketability. Those things are important to me, and every time I’ve tried out a large screened Android phone, the larger screen just isn’t worth the tradeoffs.

      All of these debates about screen size can’t get around the simple fact that we don’t have any true apples-to-apples comparisons when it comes to screen size. Right now, consumers do not have true choices when it comes to screen size, because they are forced to make tradeoffs in other areas.

      With Apple, you have a state-of-the-art flagship phone that does not offer a larger screen option. And in the Android world, you have no choice but to go with the large screen in order to get the faster processors and newer features. The smaller screened Android phones are all gimped in some major way.

      If Apple keeps the 4″ form factor and maintains the high performance in the more compact package, I have no problem with them offering up larger options. If anything, this will finally demonstrate what the market really wants when given true options with no compromises — sort of like how the iPad Air and Mini retina differentiate themselves only with the screen size.

  8. MDN’s point is that Apple should release a larger iPhone for tactical reasons, i.e., to bring Samsung to its knees. While Apple rarely broadcasts its positions, perhaps the delay is due to its transition away from Samsung as a supplier, fine-tuning its prototypes, or other internal adjustments prior to launch.

  9. I ride the bus hone a couple of times a week. In my observation, 80% of those I see at the buss stop and on the bus re using iPhones. My employer recently gave up Blackberry for BYOD or a purchase subsidy. Most bought iPhones. I do a see a fee large SS phones occasionally, 1 02 at most a day. I’ll get my wife a iP6 since she carries a big bag, but i like the size of my iP5.

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