Ditched my phablet

tl;dr: I don't want a phone any bigger than the Pixel 4a.

Recently, I stopped using my Nokia 5.3 in favor of a Google Pixel 4a. The Nokia 5.3 was simply too big. I had reservations about getting a phablet, then decided I would give it a shot. I used it exclusively for about 10 months. The size really started to be a problem for me 3 or 4 months in. It was simply too big, and the large size meant it was a burden to carry around.

A visual size comparison of the Nokia 5.3, Pixel 4a, and iPhone 5.
Image courtesy of PhoneArena.com's handy phone size comparison tool

With bezels shrinking each year, it’s difficult to compare phones by their screen size alone. I’ve been using this surface area calculation to get a better understanding of the actual in-hand size of devices. (Simply multiply the phone’s width by its height, in mm.)

Phone Size (mm2)
iPhone 4 6,785
iPhone 5 7,316
iPhone 12 Mini 8,448
iPhone SE 9,313
Pixel 4a 9,936
iPhone 12 10,584
iPhone 12 Pro Max 12,559
Nokia 5.3 12,628

I really loved the iPhone 5 form factor, but I think the industry has moved on and won’t offer anything in that 7,500mm2 size range ever again. 10,000mm2 is a good landing point. I carried around an LG G6 for years, and it was about that size. Larger than the iPhone 5 for sure, but not too unwieldy. But once you go over 10,000mm2 the phone becomes just too big for me.

While I don’t think manufacturers will ever make phones again the size of an iPhone 5 (my favorite phone size), the Pixel 4a is the largest phone that I can see myself owning and enjoying. And because of my handy chart, I know that I want phones around 10,000 mm2 or less in size. So, I know to not lust over the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

It’s been about two months and I am much happier with the Pixel 4a. The size is perfect. It feels better in hand and is much easier to carry around.

I don’t regret buying the Nokia 5.3. It was a decent phone at a great price, and a good example of the benefits of Android One. Nokia is making good strides here for sure. During the 10 months I used it, I learned some valuable things – the size of a phone that’s best for me, and the features I truly need.