What is a big call in 2022? It has been a moving target for a number of years – albeit one that moves steadily in one direction. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact average display size, but most flagship smartphone screens generally fall somewhere between six and seven inches.
In 2010, Steve Jobs touted four inches as the ideal screen size. “There’s no getting around it,” he noted as Android phones slowly got bigger. “Nobody’s going to buy that.” The following year, Samsung released the first Galaxy Note. The 5.3-inch display aroused downright disgust in some. The first phablet was just too big for pockets and hands.
The intervening decade has made those comments strange. Technology has a way of doing that. Fast-forward to 2022, and the four new versions of the iPhone 14 come in two sizes: 6.1 and 6.7 inches. A lot of things have happened to get us here, not the least of which is a dramatic gain in screen-to-body ratio. As screens have gotten bigger, the overall footprint needed to support them has gotten smaller.
I’ve been using the regular iPhone 14 as my primary device for the past few weeks. I can’t wrap my hand all the way around it, but close enough. More importantly, it is easy to use with one hand. We’ve come a long way since the days when a 5.3-inch phone seemed almost impossibly large.
For my own daily use, I’ve really come to appreciate 6.1 inches as a sweet spot. It’s a good-sized screen in a hardware footprint that isn’t overwhelming. As always, your mileage may vary. Some people were understandably disappointed when the iPhone 14 lineup effectively marked the Mini’s death. Wanting a smaller phone is perfectly reasonable, and for now the SE will have to fill that role.
As you no doubt have guessed after reading this, I’ve since switched to the 14 Plus for everyday use. I’ll say right away that I can’t really wrap my hand around it. Using it in one hand is a bit more of a mixed bag. With face unlock enabled, there are certain actions that are perfectly possible to perform this way: checking emails, social media doom scrolling — basically the things many of us do on our phones most of the time.
For example, if you want to reply to an email, things get more complicated. In general, I can twist to select the specific message, but when I press Replay and type in Gmail, I need both hands. If you’re deep into the world of speech computing, you may have a solution that works for you.
As with all things in life, there is a tradeoff here. I quite like the 6.7-inch size for things like video. It’s also nice to have all that screen as a viewfinder while taking photos. I ended up moderating a panel at a Brooklyn bookstore earlier this week, and it’s a great size to serve as a sort of makeshift teleprompter. Admittedly, that’s a pretty niche need, but when you go from 6.1 to 6.7 inches, those kinds of benefits start to show up pretty quickly.
Besides the screen size, the biggest advantage of opting for the Plus over the standard 14 is the battery. The Plus is rated at 26 hours of video playback versus the 14’s 20 hours. In practice, for me, that meant going to bed with about 50% battery and waking up at about 37%. You should be able to get through the full 24 hours without any problems. There’s a nice peace of mind when you don’t have to worry about finding a charger during the day.
We’re not talking about an Apple Watch Series 8 to Ultra-sized jump here, but there’s a lot to be said for not having to worry about your phone dying when you’re out in the world.
The 14 Plus sits in an interesting kind of liminal space in the iPhone line. It is the entry-level model and not the most premium. It’s closer to the former and similar in just about every way except size. Interestingly, it’s actually lighter than the smaller 14 Pro. That’s something I noticed almost immediately, as I’ve also used the Pro a bit. That is certainly important for a large phone like this. At $899, it’s also $100 cheaper than the Pro and $200 less than the Pro Max.
The 14 is the device you get when you want a new iPhone but don’t need the latest bells and whistles. The 14 Pro sits on the edge of iPhone technology. The 14 Pro Max is a kitchen sink. The Plus is for the person who prefers the bigger screen but doesn’t need all of the above frills. The surefire way to find out which one is right for you is to custom fit them with a local brick and mortar.
I’d say the regular 14 makes the most sense for most users. Upgrade to the Pro if you want better photos and a faster chip (and/or are generally blinded by all that the Dynamic Island has to offer). However, if screen size is your main concern, that 0.6 inch makes a lot of difference.