While many iPhone users have been hoping for a phone closer in size to that of larger smartphones, Google and Samsung are now planning to scale back the size of their phones to something closer to what Apple is producing. Samsung is releasing two “mini” 4.3-inch versions of their Galaxy S4, called the G4 zoom and G4 mini. The zoom features a 16 megapixel camera. Both phones have a screen size close to that of the Apple iPhone 5 and with a qHD resolution of 960×540. That resolution can’t compete with the iPhone 5’s retina display, and indeed it is even marginally lower than the older iPhone 4, which had a 960×640 display. Last year, Samsung similarly released a mini version of the S3.
Google’s influence over Motorola is having similar results. In a recent report by PCMag, Motorola’s Design Chief Jim Wicks explained that it was time for them to make something smaller as well: “Certain people like a large screen. But there’s a sweet spot for consumers that we’re currently exceeding in the market. There are some people that like a big display, but there’s also a lot of people that want something that’s just about right. I think ‘just right’ is important, and we’re designing so we don’t disappoint those people.”
Making a smaller smartphone isn’t always a good idea however. There is a reason the iPhone 5 is the only smartphone smaller than 4.3 inches. Taylor Martin of the PhoneDog blog explains how smaller sizes usually involve an inevitable performance hit. “If you want an Android device smaller than 4.3-inches, although whatever device you choose will undoubtedly be easier on your wallet, you’re looking to take a serious hit in performance, capabilities and quality.” He adds, citing the S3 Mini as an example: “The only resemblance the Galaxy S III mini has to its larger sibling is the name and outward design. Specifications are far from the original, making many scratch their heads as to why this device is even considered a miniature version of the S III, or why it has the ‘S’ branding to begin with.”