One bit of news that went overlooked by most during last week’s Apple event was the fact that Apple has discontinued the iPhone SE from its lineup (along with the original iPhone X). The new iPhone lineup is as follows: iPhone 7/7 Plus, iPhone 8/8 Plus, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max.
While the discontinuation of the iPhone SE is certainly a bummer to small form factor smartphone lovers, it’s the iPhone XR that poses the biggest threat to small handed people (or people who just prefer smaller phones). Let me explain why: the iPhone XR is to last year’s iPhone 8 as the iPhone XS is to last year’s iPhone X.
The future of the iPhone
What the means is we’re moving into the future of the iPhone–a future that’s vision is getting as close to a slab of glass as possible. No more bezels, lips, notches, etc–just glass.
Think about it: next year, the iPhone 7 will be gone. The year after the iPhone 8 will be gone and each iPhone in the lineup will have a big edge-to-edge display. To many people this likely sounds amazing, to others it sounds bad. Some feminists have pointed out that the average female hand is an inch shorter in width compared to the average male’s, which according to them means women need the option to buy smaller devices.
When Apple released the iPhone 5 just over five years ago, the company said it was the “perfect size” for a smartphone.
Only 5 years ago, Apple said the iPhone 5 was the “perfect size” for a smartphone and that Android phones were way too big…. pic.twitter.com/O4AXmVHTyx— Buck-a Not Nice™ (@BuckTheWorld) September 12, 2018
Now I understand that technology advances and preferences change but people don’t evolve as fast as technology does. It’s certainly possible in a few hundred or perhaps thousands of years from now humans will evolve to have bigger hands overall, but right now, there are people with smaller hands out there. The issue arises from the move to a minimum screen size of 5.8-inches (6.5-inches if you get the Max model, 6.1-inches if you get the XR), which, even if the device enclosure size is exactly the same, it still makes it more difficult for people with smaller hands to use as the screen real estate has gotten bigger.
The reactions to the big screen future
As you can imagine there has been reactions on both sides of this issue.
“Welcome to the big screens” says Apple and women like me with small hands who need the most secure phone for safety reasons are stuck with something they can’t hold and constantly risk dropping. Company that designs $5 billion headquarters without a childcare center for the win. pic.twitter.com/Owzy51RsrH— zeynep tufekci (@zeynep) September 13, 2018
I support feminism but this is just plain bullshit. https://t.co/NtEHv75swU— nullpixel (@nullriver) September 13, 2018
If anything the quotes from the person in question are sexist…
Say what you will about all this but as a woman who has owned every iPhone (non-Plus models) since the iPhone 3G, the iPhone X (which I bought last year) was the very first iPhone where I felt the absolute need to attach a Pop Socket to the back of the case to make it easier to use and hold. Again, despite the enclosure dimensions being similar to a non-Plus model iPhone, the bigger screen real estate has made it harder for me to use.
We have used men as the default for so long, we don’t even realize—or care, in some cases—we’re doing it anymore.Alissa Fleck, reporter
“I think this reflects a larger problem we have in society—women’s needs are not considered when decisions are made at the top,” says Alissa Fleck, a reporter who covers brands as well as gender issues.
Are the new iPhones too big for women? What do you think?Click to Tweet
What’s the solution?
Will Apple reintroduce an iPhone SE-type model at some point? I mean, perhaps, but it doesn’t seem likely based on the trends we’re seeing in the smartphone space.
“We have used men as the default for so long, we don’t even realize—or care, in some cases—we’re doing it anymore,” says Ms. Fleck who suggests that one solution is getting more women at the top and in the decision making process. “It would also behoove Apple to say in this case, we hear you, we’re sorry, and we’re going to try harder,” she says.
It certainly appears bigger screens are here to stay and that’s fine with me. I just hope they don’t get any bigger or I’ll likely need to add a second Pop Socket to my iPhone in the future.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.
Jeff Weisbein contributed to this article.