What size screen does your smartphone need?

A guide to getting the best screen size for your needs

When it comes to the size of your smartphone screen there are a lot of options out there, from the positively dainty 4-inch Apple iPhone SE to the 6.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and beyond. But bigger is not always best and the right screen size can be a very personal choice.

So what should you consider, screen-wise, when you're looking for your next smartphone?

The carry factor

This is the physical form of the phone and it's an important one. A big phone (and be aware that 6.3 inches is a lot of phone) can be unwieldy and uncomfortable in smaller hands. If you're used to retrieving your phone and swiping it open, one-handed, that might not be the case when you move into bigger screen sizes.

The converse to that is that a bigger screen means more room for the keyboard, so if you do a lot of typing – more than just the occasional text – smaller sizes are going to feel fiddly.

You'll also have to think about how you carry the phone when you're not using it. Bigger phones can be uncomfortable when jammed in pants pockets and even too heavy for lightweight jackets. In colder months this might not be a big issue, but Australian summers can be a hassle if you're not a habitual bag carrier.

The small silver screen

A few years back only the most die-hard movie buff would make a habit of watching a show on their phone. Increasing data limits and the explosion of streaming media apps have made it more and more common.

Screen size will obviously be a factor in your enjoyment of your media consumption. A bigger screen has obvious benefits here, but you'll want a big screen that has a high resolution as well or your favourite Netflix original is going to look rather disappointing.

Smaller screens might actually have a slightly better pixel density than some bigger ones. This is measured in pixels per square inch or PPI and a higher number will make images and video look much sharper.

These factors also have an effect on using your phone's web browser and any Office-style applications you might use, but in these cases the greater screen real estate might be more beneficial than any additional crispness.

The battery life

You shouldn't be surprised by this, but your phone screen is a big suck on your battery life. A massive, high-resolution screen requires a lot of power, as does all the processing that's being done to make it look good. This means you want your battery to match your screen.

This can be hard with Apple products as the company is often quite cagey about the size of its battery. In the Android world, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 might serve as a good example. The 6.3-inch screen is backed by a 3,300mAh battery and the battery life on that is best described as "mostly ok".

Yes, we're all used to charging our phones multiple times a day if we're heavy smartphone users but a big battery is important for a big screen.

Use it

The best advice when it comes to how big your screen should be is to get your hands on a number of phones and try them out.

There's no right or wrong, but until you've actually played around with a few options and got a sense of how they feel in your hand, it's still just guess work because everyone's actual usage varies not only by individual, but it varies on any given day. Some days you might sail through with no battery worries because you're rarely on your phone, while on other days you might be lunging for a power adaptor before lunchtime.

After a new handset to meet your needs? Use our mobile plan finder to match the ideal handset to the most affordable plan here.

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