For most of the last three years, I have been fighting a battle against “phablets” and losing it badly. Not only have people flocked to buy supersized phones after each negative review I hand down, the dimensions of these displays have steadily crept up.
The 5.3-inch screen of the first Samsung Galaxy Note, the one that I mocked at the time for its enormousness, now ranks as just a bit over medium-sized. And that 2012-vintage hardware seems positively compact next to the 5.5-in. LCD of the iPhone 6 Plus, the 5.7-in. screen of the Galaxy Note 4 and the 5.96-in. display on Google’s upcoming Nexus 6.
Minimum sizes have gone up too. The 4.7-in. touchscreen on my Nexus 4 once seemed quite the expanse of glass but is now approaching minimum-viable-product material.
All along, my core complaint against enormophones hasn’t changed: How do you use these things single-handed? Here are some common situations where it’s difficult or impossible to wield a phone with both hands:
- Holding a shopping basket at a store
- Pushing a stroller
- Wheeling your luggage through an airport
- Standing in a train or bus and holding on to a handrail or stanchion
- Eating a slice of pizza or other no-utensils-needed food
- Standing in a coffee shop, bar or restaurant with a beverage in one hand
- Holding your child’s hand
- Walking a pet
And no, wearing a smartwatch doesn’t help unless you’re willing to annoy everybody around you by issuing voice commands to your computer of a chronograph.
But with millions of people choosing to pay what’s often a non-trivial price premium for plus-sized phones, I have to allow for me being the person who doesn’t get it.
So I’ll ask this: If you have a phone with screen that exceeds five inches across, how do you work its touchscreen when you don’t have both hands free? Has the act of tilting the phone in your hand to let your thumb reach a corner become so natural that you no longer notice, do you put down or let go whatever has your other hand occupied, or is there some other trick I’ve been missing?