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.
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.
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.