What size screen does your smartphone need?
A guide to getting the best screen size for your needs.
We’re reader-supported and may be paid when you visit links to partner sites. We don’t compare all products in the market, but we’re working on it!
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 massive 6.8-inch Samsung Galaxy Note10+. 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 physical size and form of a phone is an important factor in determining whether it's right for you. Big phones, like those with screens of 6 inches and larger, can be unwieldy and uncomfortable in smaller hands. If you're used to retrieving your phone and swiping it open with one hand, that might not be possibly when you move into bigger screen sizes.
At the same time, a bigger screen means more room for the keyboard, so if you do a lot of typing – more than just the occasional text – a smaller phone could prove awkward and 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.
A few years back, only the most die-hard movie buff would make a habit of watching a TV show or film on their phone. Increasing data limits and the explosion of streaming media apps have changed this, making it it cheaper and easier to enjoy entertainment on the go.
Screen size plays a prominent role in the value of watching videos on your phone. 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 blurry and disappointing.
This is where some smaller screens can actually have a slightly better pixel density than bigger ones. Pixel density 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 other applications you might use, but in these cases the greater screen real estate might be more beneficial than any additional crispness.
You shouldn't be surprised by this, but your phone screen is a big drain 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 Note10+ serves as a good example. The 6.8-inch screen is backed by a 4,300mAh battery and the battery life on that is solid but unremarkable.
For this reason, it's worth researching the battery capacity and performance of different phones before committing to buy one.
Test it for yourself
The best way to know how big your phone's screen should be is to get your hands on a number of phones and try them out.
There's no one "best" screen size – needs vary not only from person to person but from day to day. Until you've actually played around with a few options and got a sense of how they feel in your hand, it's mostly just guess work. 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.
Ready to compare?
Take a look at the table below for a comparison of large-screen phones. If you'd rather compare phones of all screen sizes, head over to our comprehensive mobile phones hub.