iPhone mini

A friend of mine is currently working on a study on cell phone usability. While we were talking about this, she asked me what I thought the five most liked cell phone brands were. My immediate response was that Nokia and Apple were most likely in the top five, which started a conversation about the iPhone.

«Why do you think the iPhone is so popular?» she asked. «It’s way too big!»

Of course, I didn’t really think so. It never occurred to me that the iPhone was actually larger than other cell phones. In fact, I think its size is quite perfect. I can hold it in one hand and easily reach any part of the screen with my thumb:

iPhone with large hands

Turns out she can’t. Her hands are quite a bit smaller than mine, which means she has trouble using the iPhone with only one hand. When holding the iPhone in her left hand, she can’t reach the top right corner without contorting her hand:

iPhone with small hands

When people discuss the mythical iPhone mini Apple is ostensibly working on, they always assume that such a phone would have to have a smaller resolution. I disagree. I think a lot of people with smaller hands would love an iPhone with the exact same resolution, but about 10% less tall and wide.

Size Comparison

In fact, it seems a lot of products are designed for adult male hands and could really benefit from a «small hands version».

Update

Wolf points out an example of this: Microsoft’s original Xbox was catering to a male American audience and had a huge controller. The company later released a smaller controller for people with smaller hands, prompting a funny Penny Arcade comic.

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designed_for_use_small

If you liked this, you'll love my book. It's called Designed for Use: Create Usable Interfaces for Applications and the Web. In it, I cover the whole design process, from user research and sketching to usability tests and A/B testing. But I don't just explain techniques, I also talk about concepts like discoverability, when and how to use animations, what we can learn from video games, and much more.

You can find out more about it (and order it directly, printed or as a DRM-free ebook) on the Pragmatic Programmers website. It's been translated to Chinese and Japanese.