As screens in just about every mobile category grow, there’s more size overlap. Most smart phones in our Ratings (available to subscribers) have a display measuring 4 inches or larger, and some now approach or exceed the 5-inch mark, a size that was once exclusive to e-book readers and tablets.
Tablets come in more sizes between 7 and 10 inches, and soon there will be a Toshiba tablet with a 13-inch screen, pushing into laptop territory. LCD screens now fill the back of most point-and-shoot cameras, with more approaching the size of those on smaller smart phones. E-book readers are an exception to the rule: The displays on most remain 6 or 7 inches, the best compromise for easy reading and maximum portability.
Displays on smart phones and tablets have become more responsive to touch (a feature most have) and refresh more quickly, in part because of speedy dual- and quad-core processors. They also offer dazzling detail. Examples include the high-resolution Retina displays on the Apple iPhone 4 and 4S and the newest, third-generation iPad, as well as high-definition displays from HTC, LG, and Samsung.
Chances are that the screen on any mobile device in our Ratings of recommended models will suffice. But opt for a model with a higher-rated display to get the most enjoyment from color images on a tablet or to more easily read type in a smaller font size on a phone or an e-book reader.
The highly rated Samsung Galaxy Note phone (shown above) has the largest display in our Ratings. At 5.3 inches, it’s a full inch larger than those on many models. The extra real estate is great for reading, gaming, and the like, but it hampers one-handed use of the phone, which might also fit less easily in your pocket.