Apple Disses Samsung: Phone Should Fit Your Hand

Early in the revelations about the new iPhone 5, Apple’s Phil Schiller took a swipe at rival Samsung, though he never mentioned them by name, of course. The dig came when Schiller began talking about the new dimensions of the iPhone 5. It’s longer, and thinner, but not wider. Amid the barrage of numbers it’s easy to lose sight of why any particular design decisions are made.

So Schiller helpfully pointed out Apple’s philosophy when it comes to phone design:

“Why did we make it this size?” he said. “It’s because of your hand. It should fit there. That’s how we designed the iPhone 5.”

Here’s the photo of the old and new iPhones side-by-side:

That comment seemed aimed directly at Samsung, and has been on my mind recently. I’m not the world’s biggest gadget fiend. But recently, T-Mobile leant me a Galaxy Samsung S III to try on their 4G network.

Let me say first, it’s a gorgeous device. There are many things I love about the design elements. As a media consumption device, the bigger screen is an advantage, whether I’m streaming a movie or reading a book.

But one drawback, and it’s a big one, is that the Galaxy phone is too wide for my hand. And not just mine. I’ve let other friends with larger hands play with it. And in general, we can’t quite stretch our thumb and fingers all the way around. The top photo is my hand holding the Galaxy.

Trivial deal, you say? Not really. The upshot is that the Galaxy becomes a two-handed device, especially when I’m typing or trying to open something. And that makes it harder to use in those in-between moments, like when I’m standing in a line. I’ve got to put down anything I’m holding to free up both hands.

As such, it’s a deal breaker in terms of switching between Apple and Samsung. Because believe me, just about everything else about the Galaxy S III feels near-perfect.

Still, it’s those little things that Apple manages to understand. They seem to have the edge on everyone else in terms of truly grasping just how technology fits into our everyday lives.


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  • nice post and not trivial.. i like the ads for the big galaxies.. but when they say “the next big thing” i think i want the next big SMALL thing.. i’m glad there is a counter trend now to bigger bigger bigger (there’s a tablet or a computer or a TV for that)

  • Robin

    I have small hands but absolutely no trouble of holding and operating a sgs 3 one handed.

  • Bell

    I have a large Samsung Charge and I can swype out tweets and texts with one hand. I don’t really think my hands are particularly huge either. I may have to adjust my hand position (so slightly I can do so one handed) but not to the point where I’m going to drop my phone or even notice when I’m not analyzing my hand interaction with my phone.

  • James

    Ridiculous blog entry. I have small hands and the width of my Galaxy s2 has never been an issue. And no, the Samsung Galaxy phones are not even close to perfect. There are many issues with them, but the width is not one. And i’d bet Apple has some hidden motive for not going to a wider phone. I think that because the stated reason is silly.

    • Guy

      S2 is smaller than S3:

      Samsung Galaxy S2 – 125.3×66.1×8.5mm, 116g
      = 70399.805 mm3 = 8282.33 mm2
      Samsung Galaxy S3 – 136.6×70.6×8.6mm, 133g
      = 82938.056 mm3 = 9643.96 mm2

      = 1361.63 mm2 larger face, or 13.6 cm 2 larger!!!!!!!

      • James

        Are you really saying less than a 1/4″ would make a difference? Am i interpreting your numbers correctly? If so, you are as ridiculous as the guy who wrote this blog entry.

  • Andrew

    My Galaxy S 3 firts my hand perfectly? Obviously the author has not used SG series yet.

  • John

    Ok, this is why they call people “isheep”. Apple people downed any phone that was larger then 3.5 inches saying anything else was too much when the 4s was released because Apple said 3.5 was the ideal screen size.

    NOW, that DEMAND from current iphone users was for a LARGER screen Apple in turn says that 4 inch is the “ideal” size. And Apple people now say 4 inch is the “ideal” size contrary to what they said last year.

    Every iphone person whos touched my Galaxy S3 has been simply amazed by the SCREEN size alone. To say, its too big simply BECAUSE the iphone is in reality TOO small is ridiculous! And the size of the whole iphone 4s is my screen with a little extra phone on top and bottome, which squashes the size argument. Apple just needs to lay the pride down and up the ante with its screen.

    After using an S3 the iphone 4s felt like a childs toy and literally useless with the small screen.

    Now, iphone 5 with same width taller screen is simply…..ugly.

  • Guy

    The author sounds like someone that is trying to find a reason to stay with an Apple device. I have the GSIII and I have no problem using it.

  • Guy

    This post is not trivial, but it could be more specific so users would not get confused. It “fits” in one’s hand, we own one, and we own an iPhone 3GS too. One cannot on the Samsung Galaxy III hold it in ONE hand, and reach all the way over to the far side of the screen with your THUMB. You also cannot reach the top corners with your thumb, which I would like to see someone test on the new iphone 5 as well. If you are going to compare anything let it by the processing power and LTE connectivity and global network support. I much prefer the user interface of the Galaxy to my iphone but the release of the 5 makes the decision to move to a galaxy as my next phone harder, but only just. Basically I am bored with my iphone and want something different and new and interesting, and as functional.

    • Guy

      Another point, try to hold the Galaxy in one hand backwards and sideways as you would an iPhone, with one hand, to take a landscape picture with one hand. Are you able? With the hotkey or otherwise (screen tap)?

      • Fiz

        I’m a small handed Asian and I can hold my gs3 phone with one hand at all times, touch the far side of the screen with my thumb and hold it on its side with no problem at all… besides, I can always say “cheese”, “shoot”, “capture” or “smile” to take a picture in landscape (or portrait) mode HANDS FREE.

  • trust me Samsung phones to me are way more better than apple phones display technology wat ever the arguement is Samsung took the lead and will continue to win the smart phone race more freedom and phone can be personalized to who u are more than apple

    Samsung the best

  • Linda

    I’m small but I love my galaxy – it doubles as a video player when i’m commuting on the train. ^_^ Besides even with small phones I always find that I need to use two hands to text, so I don’t know what this supposed big deal is with this “one handed device” gimmick.

  • Craig A

    Hahaha, I have to laugh at this article. Those in between moments when you are standing in line and you have to put something down to type with both hands? That is a deal breaker?? When everything else, as you said, is nearly flawless?? God forbid you have to set something down to type whatever is oh so important. So set it down, use both hands if you have to then enjoy your larger screen for all those other times you are not in line. You are standing in line so what is the big deal to set something down? Plain lazy.

    But I think the article really wanted to say that it’s harder to type when you are driving maybe? But if you were in fact really complaining about using two hands while in line, then my friend you have a bigger problem on hand…

  • BayAreaBiker

    You must have woman hands… SGS3 fits fine in my hands and I do not have Yeti like hands.

  • syunrii

    I have hands smaller than the average girl and even my Galaxy Note ‘fits’ in my hand. I may not be able to reach my thumb (which is also shorter than normal) to the other side of the device, but I can still comfortably reach 70% of the screen. A S3 is definitely manageable.

    Besides, maybe these bigger phones will discourage people from texting while driving

  • Neddy

    Apple will say the width of the iPhone is the perfect width until they make an iPhone that is wider. And the Applebots will sagely nod their heads in agreement.

  • Howard

    Don’t get me wrong. I will always love Apple for iphone1. You gave me what I longed for, voice,email,voicemail,calander,reminders,pics,music,wifi,youtube,maps all in my pocket.
    Then those Apps! I can see the planets! play word games with my friends. But I just cant read the screen like I used to. So I want a screen that will give me bigger TEXT, not just an extra row of icons, or full letterbox tiny movie screen.

    But according to Apple I don’t have any common sense to want this.

    Apple, if your listening, I would have paid a $200 premium for and iphone with a 4.8 to 5 inch screen. Preordered, no questions, Ill pay more! I have before! your giving so much already. (not sarcasm) I just need an overall bigger screen. My thumb will survive. I’ll trade you seri for the screen! Two hundred dollars Apple! A ridiculous amount! Almost all profit!