How to Choose the Size of Your Smartphone or Tablet – The Orange Box

The Orange Box Screen

Welcome to The Orange Box, where I review gadgets and provide opinions to engaging gadget-related topics.

This is for the layman adventurer, and as such the use of advanced technical terms and acronyms are minimal. But, of course, for those who wants to dive deep into technical details or cross-examine the facts, I have shortlisted reliable resources below, with The Orange Box serving as an excellent introduction piece.

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How to Choose the Size of Your Smartphone or Tablet - The Orange


Nowadays, smartphones are made increasingly large. When the Samsung Galaxy Note 1 first came out, I thought to myself who would buy such a large phone? But looking at the sales figures and the success that follows, I guess I was wrong. And it seems every other brand is on the bandwagon, with their own smartphones of overly-sized proportion – examples include Sony Xperia Z Ultra and LG Optimus G Pro.

Even so, I still know great deal of people who want smartphones that they can actually use with one hand. And this desire also applies to tablets, with mini-tablets increasingly gaining popularity over their full-sized counterparts, just take a look at how the sales of iPad Mini eats away at the sales of the iPad.

Choosing a smartphone/tablet of the right size is frustrating.

I am writing this post to put my opinion into the debate, to produce a pros and cons list for a smartphone, a phablet, a mini-tablet or a full-sized tablet, and ultimately to try and disgusting a specific groups of people that benefits most from each classification.

This is all from my own experience using the various sized devices. To ensure that my opinion is solely on the size of the devices and nothing else, ASUS was kind enough to allow me to use the ASUS Padfone Infinity and ASUS Fonepad together for a period of time to compare the user experience between each other, so a BIG THANKS to them!

I had also reviewed them on separate occasions, which you can find in the link below:

Defining the 4 Classifications

Well some of you may be wondering how the various names are actually classified. How big should a smartphone get to be called the phablet. Well see below for the classification.

Mobile Device Classifications

Nokia Lumia 900


Lets start with the smallest of the four. While there are many variations of smartphones in the past, Apple reinvented the way a “smartphone” should be when it unveiled the original iPhone back in 2007. The emphasis of the screen as your primary, and sometimes only, way to interact with your phone was due to the undisputed success of the iPhone.

As mentioned above, smartphones can be as big as 4.9″ in screen size before they become big enough to be classified as a phablet. Usually, smartphones in this “normal” range tend to use the 4.3″ and 4.7″ screen size, the latter being the former “big” smartphone before the phablet craze.


  • Able to use it comfortably with one hand
  • Put it in your pocket with ease
  • Usually the most powerful in terms of specifications compared to the other classifications
  • Usually has the highest pixel density (though as I said before, once it it over 300ppi, which is retina display quality, it is virtually indistinguishable to the naked eye)
  • Usually the one with the newest innovations


  • It has the smallest screen size compared to the other 3 classifications
  • Varies in prices depending on the smartphone in question, but it can be the cheapest and most expensive of the 4 classifications.

Who Benefits Most From This Classification

For just almost anybody; For those who prioritize the core functions of a phone, and value portability and comfort over anything else

Because of it’s variety, almost everyone can find a smartphone of their liking. The only reason as to why you would not want a smartphone is your desire for a bigger screen, in which you would find a phablet more desirable.

While there is no such thing as the “best” smartphone, I personally believe that a smartphone with a 4.3″ screen is the sweet spot screen size. 4.3″ is the optimal balance for a smartphone to delivering a great screen experience without sacrificing the ergonomic comfort of a one-handed phone experience. Anything larger, and it would not be as comfortable.

That said, there is some leeway for the screen size to increase as design improves, as I have seen phones with larger screen sizes fitting as well on my hand thanks to slimmer bezels and rounder edges. However, I am quite confident in saying that beyond 4.7″, some ergonomic comfort must be compromised.

ASUS PadFone Infinity Phone Diagional


Ranging from smartphones with screen sizes of 5″ to 6.9″, the phablet is for those who value a fantastic screen experience and don’t mind compromising some comfort when using the phone one handed. The term Phablet was popularised by Samsung when they unveiled thee Galaxy Note, a device they feel will satisfy a market between a phone and a tablet, thus the name “Phablet”. However, not everyone recognises this as an official classification, with some evidence that the market would still rather call it a big smartphone.


  • Great viewing experience that is still fairly portable without a bag/carrying case
  • Better for multitasking than smaller smartphones


  • Increasingly difficult to use with one hand
  • Usually the quickest to drain its battery given the need to power the larger screen size.

Who Benefits Most From This Classification

For those value screen experience and don’t mind sacrificing comfort; For those who pioritise watching videos and playing games

The great thing about phablets is the fact that it is usually just bigger than their smaller counterparts. Therefore, it is simple to make a decision between the two, would you sacrifice some comfort in using your phone for a greater screen experience? Whether you do or you don’t, you will have company in both camps, with it truly being about personal preference.

Most phablets can still fit in your pocket, and if you often have a bag around you, this would be no problem at all. Just be warned that phablets have a tendency to have shorter battery life due to the need to constantly power a bigger screen, this despite the fact that they usually have a bigger battery pack. As such, comfort is once again compromised as you will find yourself carrying a portable charger or extra battery quite often.

ASUS Fonepad Diagonal


This is not an official classification, however, I included this because of the increasing trend of brands releasing a “mini” version of their tablet some time after its launch.

Usually having a screen size of 7″ and larger, mini-tablets are increasingly desired over their larger counterpart because of its increased portability. Not only that, battery life on mini-tablets tend to be great compared to smartphones and phablets.


  • Relatively cheap compared to smartphones
  • Great battery life
  • Very suitable for reading
  • Comfortable to hold with one hand
  • Mini-Tablets with phone capabilities are becoming more common


  • Usually pixel density is not above 300ppi, with only a few exceptions (iPad mini, Nexus 7)
  • Usually the least powerful in terms of specifications compared to the other classifications
  • Camera is not as powerful as smartphones/phablets

Who Benefits Most From This Classification

For those who want a tablet experience in a smaller package; For those who read often

Do not be mistaken, having a mini-tablet is not the same as having a tablet. In most cases, you will find that the mini-tablet will have lower specs but much better battery life, the latter being one of the key drawing power for this classification. Not only that, it is also most suitable for reading.

This is because at that size, your eye’s do not need to travel much to read the text from side to side, and most articles will fit into the screen while maintaining a comfortable text size. Evidence of this is clear, with products like the Amazon Kindle and other ebooks utilising the 7″ screen size.

Mini-tablets are also light enough for you to hold it in one hand for extended period of time without feeling fatigue, a major disadvantage that is found in nearly all tablets.

ASUS PadFone Infinity Station Front


The largest of the 4 classifications, tablets have screen sizes from 9.7″ and larger. They are basically laptops without the keyboard. Most tablets focus on battery life with some sacrifice in performance, however there is an increasing number of tablets that are focusing on performance, with many being a detachable accessory to what would be a full-fledged laptop.


  • Usually cheaper than high-end smartphones
  • Yet, they usually have the best specifications among the classifications (e.g. Microsoft Surface Pro, Razer Edge)
  • Has the most enjoyable viewing experience in terms of video
  • Great for multitasking
  • Has the most accessories out of the 4 classifications (keyboard docks, covers, etc.)


  • The least portable out of the 4 classifications
  • Must use with 2 hands
  • Cameras not as powerful as smartphones/phablets

Who Benefits Most From This Classification

For those who want to work on the go

While the other classifications allow work to be done, tablets are unrivaled when it comes to working while on the road. With its wide range of accessories like wireless keyboards and other peripherals, tablets provide the ultimate support for those looking to do word documents, powerpoints, and even photoshop while not at a desk.

The large screen size makes the tablet the most suitable for these actions, and the processing power is there to ensure that the tablet is up to the task. You should not buy a tablet simply for its screen size, for that you are much better off buying a mini-tablet and saving the money.

For the mobile warrior that demands the most out of their device, there is definitely a tablet for you, especially since with Windows 8, companies are getting creative with their laptops, with many trying out new things to enable you to “transform” your laptop into a tablet. Notable mentions include the Levono Yoga and HP Envy x2.

Let Me Know What You Think

So that’s it! 4 classifications for 4 different groups of people. I hope this is helpful, and I know that some of you will have more to add to what is quite a brief list to a detailed subject. Why not tell me about your favourite classification and how to benefit from using it over the rest? I would love to hear from you! Comment in the section below, or join the conversation at Google+ or Facebook! See you there =)


About Ong Kah Jing

Just a guy wanting to talk about the wonders and facts like a vending machine that gives you a coca cola every time you hug it

One comment

  1. Pingback: How to Choose the Size of Your Smartphone or Tablet – The Orange Box | Padfone Infinity

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