Too big or not too big, that is the question that has been raging ever since mobile device screens topped 4-inches, recently coming to a head with the release of the Samsung Galaxy Note, with its 5.3-inch screen.
Despite being deemed “just too damn big” in our brief hands-on at the beginning of the year, the Galaxy Note has already performed well, racking up more than 1 million devices sold in Korea and at least another million shipped worldwide.
Samsung has been pushing the Note hard too, culminating in an extravagant commercial which played during the Superbowl, in preparation for its US launch. Where Dell failed — or was just too ahead of its time — Samsung looks to be succeeding, and it seems those who want a phone that barely fits in a pocket outnumber those who do not.
LG looks to be the next company to go large, having released a teaser trailer for a 5-inch device themselves. Named the Optimus Vu, or the Optimus Sketch according to other sources, the screen will sport a 4:3 aspect ratio rather than the Note’s 16:10.
Ratio: A Fellow of Infinite Jest.
Because very few subjects sound as dull as aspect ratios, and in all honesty, in-depth discussion should be left to the bearded few who know the pixel-to-ratio conversion sum without needing to look it up; but its use on these smartphone/tablet hybrids could be a key differentiating factor.
When hearing 4:3 or 16:9, most people will think of their televisions, and equate 4:3 with old and 16:9 with new. While true to a certain extent, on a portable device with a smaller screen, a 4:3 aspect ratio could make good sense.
The Optimus Vu’s resolution is rumored to be 1024 x 768, meaning it’s more square than it is oblong. This ratio/resolution combination is clever, as many websites are optimized for this resolution, it’s great for reading eBooks in portrait, as it’s closer to a paper book’s look, plus almost all pictures shot with a point-and-shoot camera are 4:3 too.
LG isn’t the first to recognize that 4:3/1024 x 768 can be put to good use on a screen smaller than a TV, but larger than a smartphone. That’s right, it’s also Apple’s choice for the iPad 2.
Still Too Big?
Aspect ratios aside, anything with a 5-inch screen is still going to be a bit of a monster, and even though it’s 0.3-inch smaller than the Note, opinions on its practicality will be as split as the seams in pockets forced to accommodate such a device.
With the spec sheet said to feature a 1.5Ghz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM and an 8-megapixel camera with 1080p video recording, it’s looking like LG is banking on its 4:3 screen to draw customers away from the Note.
Few thought there was a need for one device with a 5-inch-plus screen, let alone more than that, so will LG’s 4:3 gamble pay off?
The Optimus Vu could make an appearance at Mobile World Congress at the end of the month.