We observed in 2017 that the ideal range for smartphone screen sizes was between five and six inches. That could have been wishful thinking in retrospect. Despite a brief reprieve, it appears that phones have continued to enlarge due to a persistent spec battle and panel producers like Samsung. Even Steve Jobs, who once pronounced the 3.5-inch screen to be the pinnacle of all screens, infamously missed the mark. He said of the Samsung four- to five-inch screen, “You can’t get your hand around it, no one’s going to buy that.”
The comparison isn’t really apples to apples, to put it another way. One improvement in the past 10 years has been the ability of hardware manufacturers to shrink the phone around the screen. In other words, a five-inch phone in 2010 is a totally different creature from one in 2022. Enormous phones are still big, though. In fact, they’re so large that it looks like the only practical way out would be to split the screen in half. Eric Migicovsky questions, “Where did all the little phones go?” The creator of Pebble and Beeper, who is also a partner in the Y Combinator program, is taking matters into his own (seen as large) hands.
Or, perhaps more accurately, he’s pushing it in someone’s direction in the hopes that he won’t have to launch yet another hardware startup, which is notoriously difficult. Migicovsky introduced Small Android Phone after seeing that the idea of a high-end, sub-six-inch Android handset is either dead or fading. He writes on the website, “My aim is that we can rally the community and persuade Google (ideally) or another Android vendor to make this phone. Google may have been the turning point in this situation, as the company notably abandoned smaller phones and redesigned their hardware to create the Pixel 6.
He said in an email to TechCrunch that he has already spoken with hardware firms and that he started the website and petition in an effort to persuade them of his point of view. I enjoy operating Beeper and am occupied. My intention is to inspire someone else to create one. Migicovsky thinks 50,000 is the magic number for persuading a manufacturer to go all-in on tiny, which is now at 20,000. He says, “Just some quick arithmetic, but it feels correct.” “Probably about $10 million [non-recurring engineering] means that 50K units produce a respectable profit at [an] $800 selling price.”
In the end, one may ask why uniformity seems to have been produced despite the proliferation of smartphones and greater competition. There is no doubt that effort was put forward. He responds when I bring up the Palm Phone, “I appreciate that they tried! The Light Phone 2 is also incredibly intriguing, but it’s not the best for use as a primary phone. He continues by saying that he needs a nice camera, at the very least. These days, that doesn’t seem like too much to ask for.
The establishment of a new phone company is not impossible. We are closely monitoring Nothing’s and OSOM’s work. But doing so in 2022, based only on a potentially small segment of the market, raises some serious doubts. Migicovsky makes it obvious on his website that he’d prefer someone else handle it. He writes, “I really, really don’t want it to come to that; if no one else produces one, I assume I will be compelled to make it myself.