iPad Rethought. My iPhone X is My New Second Screen

2 minute read
| Editorial
iPhone X.

iPhone X: Beamed from the future.

I used to always have my 12.9-inch iPad Pro in my lap while watching TV, but no more. My iPhone X has replaced it.  Here’s why.

There are classes of iPad and iPhone activities, and those activities cry out for a particular kind of device that best supports that activity. For example, one wouldn’t carry around a 12.9-inch iPad to make routine phone calls or take photos. Similarly, one wouldn’t try to routinely read one’s magazine subscriptions on a 4.0- or 4.7-inch display.

The Second Screen

Before November, 2015, I had an iPad Air. The display was 9.7-inches, and it didn’t weigh very much. It used to be my Second Screen. For those not familiar with this concept here’s the explanation. For me, an iPad in the lap while watching a movie allowed me to access a wonderful TV companion app called IMDB. Or else, I’d encounter a techical discussion or term that I’d want to explore more with Safari. Plus, using a DVR allows me to freeze the TV show in progress while I looked something up.

There are many other uses for a second screen described in the Wikipedia article linked to above.

iPad Pro(12) and OtterBox Hybrid

The iPad Pro (12.9-inch) & case can be a handful.

However, when I switched from an iPad Air to a 12.9-inch iPad Pro with its glorious (but weighty) OtterBox Hybrid case, the combination, the size and weight became a bit unwieldy. But I had no choice but to stick with the combo as my Second Screen.

iPhone X to the Rescue

Right away, when I got by iPhone X last year, I realized that the 5.8-inch display was noticeably bigger and easier to read than my old iPhone 7 with a 4.7-inch display. That little bit of difference was just enough that I realized something important. For the class of activities used in a Second Screen environment, the iPhone X could do the job. Completely. And it fit nicely in my shirt pocket instead of being on the coffee table where a tipped glass of wine might damage a large iPad.

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is still a great iPad, and I still use it. But for other tasks that exploit its size.

Just as an aside, I got to pondering how far we’ve come since the first iPhone. Here’s the iPhone X (2017) next to an original iPhone (2007) with a 3.5-inch display.

iPhone(2007)-iPhoneX(2017)

iPhone X (2017) is a giant compared to original iPhone from 2007.

In turn, that got be thinking that as display and GPU technology have advanced, Apple has been able to offer us the size display that we really wanted all along. In other words, there is nothing sacred about a 3.5-inch display at 320 x 480 pixels of resolution. This size was both an engineering and cost decision related to the technology at the time and Mr. Jobs’s own ideas about shirt pocket convenience.

Over the years, our technology and tastes have evolved. One manifestation of that is when the iPhone 6 Plus emerged with its, at the time, giant 5.5-inch display. The smartphone experience (readability, usability, navigation) has evolved along with technology.

That said, of course, there are those who still favor a smaller iPhone. Recognizing that, Apple introduced the iPhone SE with a 4.0-inch display. It’s wise to appeal to a wide range of preferences in a global customer base.

Evolution of the Species

However, returning to the original theme, I think there is a natural evolution of the largest size iPhone. We’ve learned how to carry one, and we’ve learned how to use it for new tasks.. And that’s how the iPhone X emerged to be my replacement Second Screen.

This trend will continue. Recent rumors suggest there may be a new iPhone in 2018 with a 6.5-inch display. When/if that iPhone ships, it’ll be time to say good-bye to the venerable iPad mini. I think Apple is simply biding its time until the evolved appreciation of a 6.5-inch display emerges. Then the iPad mini is gone.

My adoption of an iPhone X as a new Second Screen tells me this. Time and technology change. Our appreciations and sensibilities change. Ways of handling products evolve. New products begin to play new roles. And that will never cease.

8 Comments Add a comment

  1. geoduck

    I’ve thought for a while that once the iPhoneX+ comes out it will replace the iPad Mini. And the cost, let’s say for argument $1200, won’t be a problem because it will do the job of a $700 phone and a $500 iPad. A

    • John Martellaro

      That’s a great article by Neil. I hadn’t seen it prior to your link, but now it’s saved for Friday’s Particle Debris column. Thanks.

  2. paikinho

    I see the need and use for many people of the bigger iPhones, but I still almost chuckle every time I see teenagers waggling around those large turkey platters.

    I am hoping to downsize my 5S to a fully functioning Dick Tracy watch on a pendant.

    This race for ever-larger phones seems like it will be a passing fancy in some ways. I understand that people use them for all kinds of tasks and giant phones act as sort of a catch all for many people. Computer, video machine, audio machine, gaming system, and phone all in one compact device. …. but they are still giant and awkward.

    Probably needs to be some sort of paradigm shift for voice communication devices, but giant phones to me are still a bit baffling. What will things be like in 10 years?

    • geoduck

      Agreed. My first iPhone was a 5C. It was my wife’s 5C. I had bought a 6, but after using it a week suggested we trade. I just felt like I was talking into a dinner plate. It was very awkward. She still loves it, though usually she’s using it on speaker-phone. I now have an SE that does everything I need, and fits in my pocket. If I want a large screen I drag out the iPad.

      • paikinho

        My eyes started going a few years back and I almost always need readers. This is the only thing that bothers me about the smaller phone. Sometimes I find myself without them which makes me less inclined to use my iPhone for other tasks. I understand why people want a bigger format, but still the “phones” I see people lofting about seem awkward to me. But I too will likely have to “upgrade” to a larger format at some point. I still hope the iWatch 4 or 5 or whatever comes down the pipe will fill my needs for voice communications so I don’t have to carry about a small platter more generally.

  3. eolake

    I was lobbying for a larger iPhone after I tried the Samsung Note 1. The X is great.

    But: I also use the 12.9-inch iPad Pro by my easy chair. What makes it great is a FLOOR STAND. Whenever I need it, I just swing it in front of me. (With an external keyboard too, often.) It just hangs there right in front of me, love it.

  4. MMatz

    Prior to acquiring an iPhone X, I used my iPad Air 2 for most of my browsing and email, plus some writing and a little spreadsheet work. It’s interesting that I now find myself using the X a lot more than I did my old 6 (which was basically a phone, period), and my iPad less.
    The particular combination of screen size and screen quality seems to work. I still use the iPad, but mainly for content, as it has a keyboard.

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