Last Updated: September 3rd, 2011

This is the latest in our Weekend Poll series. For last week's, see Can Google+ Succeed?

From a manufacturer standpoint, 4G (for the purposes of this post I mean LTE and WiMax, not 3G+) is a bit of a nightmare. The immaturity of the technology means that chips are expensive and bulky, and realistically offer benefit to only a small portion of consumers. (Compounding the issue, "4G" has become yet another buzzword that consumers don't understand but think they need anyway... but I digress.)

Consider a diminutive device such as the Samsung Galaxy S II. It's thin and light, but could a 4G chip be integrated without expanding the dimensions in one or more directions? I'm no engineer and it's hard to find details that are written in plain English (or my Google-fu is lacking), but I'd have to guess the answer is no. Assuming you had to choose one or the other, which would it be: 4G (but added size), or no 4G (and a sleeker/smaller device). Of course, I could be wrong, but hey - humor me.

You know what to do: vote in the poll and sound off in the comments below. (And since we always get a Melvin or two pointing out that this poll isn't exactly scientific: we know, thanks.)

Which Is More Important To You In A Phone, Size Or 4G?

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Aaron Gingrich
Aaron is a geek who has always had a passion for technology. When not working or writing, he can be found spending time with his family, playing a game, or watching a movie.

  • http://www.williamting.com William

    I'm kind of surprised that so many users want 4G.

    If it's not LTE, it's a half baked version that telecoms are pushing out so they don't appear behind.

    Also, regardless of which version of 4G it's going to kill your battery life because 4G chipsets are not power efficient right now.

    What advantages does 4G give us? More bandwidth, when in reality we want better latency.

    • Mike357

      Yeah I bought an Epic and I don't use 4G as much as I thought I would. I'm in Chicago and get pretty good 4G coverage, but it's just not a priority for me. Then again, I don't exactly want a smaller phone either: 4 to 4.3 on screen size is good for me.

      • james

        I got the Epic a day after launch and to me its more or less my ideal phone. Four inches is perfect for a screen(even the evo's at .3 inches larger is too big), and I am of a dying breed, I HAVE to have a physical keyboard. I can't have a touchscreen keyboard be my only option(granted, in using swype I have come to find them to be more tolerable). I don't have 4G in my area, I have used it when I was in AZ last year and it was slightly underwhelming.

        • John A

          I agree with you on the physical keyboard. I think the samsung moment had a better keyboard though compared to the epic,

    • David Ruddock

      If you had ever used LTE, you'd know the latency blows 3G out of the water (I'm talking consistent sub-100ms), so you're getting both a massive speed boost and latency reduction.

      And most consumers don't want reduced latency - they want more bandwidth. Netflix, Google Music, YouTube, Amazon CloudPlayer, increasingly large size of games, etc.

    • Kane

      I personally don't care whether it's a real 4G or not, as long as it gives me better latency and speeds. LTE most definitely does, and so does WiMax, at the expense of battery, sure, but it's a really noticeable different compared to 3G.

    • Raphael

      Have to agree. I have the Evo 3d and the Evo 4g before that with no wimax where I live. I have not missed it one bit and if we did have 4g, I would probably stay on 3g for better battery life. The Evo phones already have issues with battery life compared to other phones, I'd hate to see it running on 4g. I also have wifi at home and at work which is what I'm on most of the time anyway and its faster. I say the carrrier provide more wifi hotspots. Forget 4g

  • Ricky

    Well, I'm not a wimp, so the phone being kind of bulky isn't an issue (Thunderbolt user checkin in). All I want is 4g and decent battery life.

    People complaining about a phone being heavy or too bulky need to go to the damn gym once in a while.

    • GraveUypo

      question: what the hell do gyms even have to do with anything? its a goddamn phone, not an air conditioner or a fridge.

      anyways, i dont like carrying small sized tablets on my pocket. i can tolerate up to 4 inches, but the sweet spot is 3,7" to me.

      • JayMonster

        His point is (I believe) if you are so worried about weight, that a 1 or 2 mm of thickness and and ounce or so of weight makes THAT MUCH of a difference, you are suffering from some having really fragile hands/arms.

        Also, this isn't a question about the size of the screen, what is being asked here is whether you would trade 1 to 2 mm of thickness, and an ounce or two of weight (which is where "going to the gym as a comment comes in) or are you obsessed with how thin a phone can be

  • Alan

    People who get worked up over a 4G phone need to consider whether they live in one of the limited areas that have 4G service...

  • Montyboy

    4G acceptance/usability should not be about form factor as much as it should be about battery life and efficiency.
    Take the HTC Thunderbolt, for example, when it was first released you could get MAYBE 5 hours of battery life in a 4G area. I know there were all kinds of little tweaks one could do like extending the time between data synchs and forcing 3G. Great. That's exactly why I bought a 4G phone, so it could live in 3 G mode and keep me less connected. Something has to give. Until they can squeeze 8 - 12 hours of moderate usage and at least a day on standby "out of the box" - people looking for MOBILE devices should steer clear of today's offerings sporting the "4G" moniker.

  • David Ruddock

    Interestingly, this seems to be true:

    HTC Inspire 4G (for AT&T HSPA+): 11.7mm thickness.

    HTC Thunderbolt: 13mm thickness.

    Both are based on the same platform (Desire HD) - and you would think they'd be the same size. Apparently not.

    The DROID Charge is slightly thinner but also has a massively bulky bulge on the bottom of the phone near the speaker bar. The LG Revolution is 13.2mm thick.

    By comparison, the EVO 3D, with a dual-core processor and WiMAX, is a mere 11.9mm.

    This makes me wonder just how thick the BIONIC is going to be - especially with all that extra heat dissipation it's going to need for a dual-core processor. Though, the added 2-dimensional square footage from that 4.5" inch display could mitigate that effect to some extent.

  • TareX

    Most important thing in a phone, its screen (at least 4", with some sort of manufacturer enhancement).

    As for web speed; well if it's not LTE, I couldn't care less.

  • Jaymoon

    It's about a 2 hour drive in either direction for the closest 4G coverage area for me.

    With my Evo 4G, I connected to 4G, maybe twice. Yeah it was faster, but I could easily live without it day to day. 3G coverage in the town where I live is still pretty good. At least for casual surfing anyway.

    So I would say that the size (and even design) of the phone is most important, because that effects me every time I pick it up.

  • mskks64

    why isnt big screens an option?

    • JayMonster

      That is because this isn't a question so much about size but "bulk" the poll is asking (regardless of screen size) are you willing to give up a millimeter or two of thickness in order to get 4g speeds, or are you the type that obsessed on how thick the phone is.

  • Marshall

    I use an evo with an extended battery so size doesn't really bother me but, I do love the sleekness of phones like the galaxy s2. At the same time, I could care less about 4g in my phone. Not until it's nationwide (usa) and even then, 6500 does the job I need when I'm in the go. Call me old school but hd netflix us not a big concern to me when I am walking down the street. I'll use wifi at home for that. Plus 4g isn't actually4g. Well it is now that companies used the term for so long that the standards people (the exact name escapes me at the moment) lowered the requirements of 4g to meet the sub par speed lte and wimax give us. so until them neither truly concern me.

  • The Truth Squad

    I wouldn't really care today if it had 4G but why buy a phone that is already obsolete? I wouldn't buy one that doesn't have NFC either for the same reason.
    You should always get the latest and greatest because within a year you will regret it if you don't. If the s2 has Verizon 4g, I will get it, otherwise I will either buy the Bionic or wait until the phone I want is availabe. I think you will have to hurry because Apple and Microsoft are dedicated to putting Android out of business. If you can not beat them in the market, attack them in court. Is this a great country or what?

    • chris

      Yeah apple ans Microsoft only go after certain companies such as Samsung. Apple is behind and knows that so they are trying to slow everyone down.

  • Franco

    "I'd rather have a smaller/slimmer/lighter phone."

    That"s my vote.For me these attributes count for a lot,i work a manual job and cannot have a phone attached too me all day or in my hands.Neither sitting on a table etc,i have to have it in my pocket so the lighter and small the better.

    No point having a 4g phone that's big and cumbersome.But even if the phone was not 4g the smaller the better,but not losing touch of the screen size for ease of use.

  • L boogie

    Interesting topic; the android ecosystem offers choices that suit different tastes whether one wants a 3.5, 3.7, 4, 4.3 or 4.5. On the topic of 4g, it's just a matter of time before everyone enjoys the full potential of what 4g speeds have to offer. Hopefully by that time frame, phones such as nexus prime, galaxy s 3, bionic, evo 4d, sensation 2, incredible 3d (just kidding on the last 3) could deliver the latest and greatest in mobile bandwidth, latency & speed

  • Michael

    I've had plenty of 4g phones in my hands (some of them don't even appear to have public rumors yet) and all of them passed the pocket test for me. They were mostly heavier than 3G devices, but they weren't ridiculously large. I'm already partial to a phone with some heft, though.

  • Michael

    One other thing - to he poster concerned about latency, it is possible to get consistent latency under 100ms on EVDO rev a. Still, CDMA carriers haven't tried to move voice traffic to their data networks yet, and they plan to for LTE, so you'd expect latency will be improved even further.

  • matt

    I cant imagine buying a phone without either. After using an evo for a year and no owning a 3D there no way id buy a device without it.

  • tarman

    I would prefer to see leaps and bounds in the batteries that are being used for our devices. I would like a 4+ inch screen with a physical keyboard and not have to charge the phone multiple times a day.

    • dj

      Not sure if you're on Verizon, but the Droid 3 might fit your bill.

  • jbonics

    I want a bigger phone. I'm on a droid2 now scoring 3500's in quadrent no need to upgrade yet. Thin is in not smaller and 4g is cool if it's cheap, cheap, cheap.

  • Josh

    4g is the least thing i care about. I would rather have a big phone. I have big hands and i love the bigger phones. I can't wait for a 5'' screen.

    • JayMonster

      Dell already tried going to 5"... with disastrous results. There is definitely a finite end to " phone" size.

      • Josh

        What were the results? Was it in 16:9 format? I have a problem with the new evo 3d because it is smaller that the evo 4g. Same screen size but the 3d is in 16:9 and so the angle size is slimmer than on the 4:3 screen size.

  • tarman

    I believe somewhere in between 4.5 and 5 inches would make for a nice phone with a really nice keyboard. And have the ability to use touch & stylus. Would make it nice to use in the field.

    As to a "finite end to phone size", I'm sure we all thought that about 10 years ago. Never did I think we would have a portable gaming device and computer like hardware with internet built in on my phone.

    • JayMonster

      What you are talking about with the combo could have a niche, but doubt it would be a widely accepted consumer device.

      Actually 10 years so we did have large devices ( as the Audiovox Thera and XV6600 in my drawer will attest. It was at that time that the race for " thin and small" took over and peaked with devices like the Razr. Now we are moving in the other direction... but... sooner or later it has to stop. As Dell showed with their 5" device... a phone still has to fit in a pocket.

  • tarman

    I'm not talking about thick and bulky. And when the digital ink paper or whatever it is technology grows, one day we'll have phones that have a screen that either rolls out or folds out with no visible creases. When the Droid X first hit the shelves, people thought it too big. Now most phones coming out are the same size. What's a .2" more or even .5" more? as long as they can keep the phones thin and they work on battery technology, we may have phones that are thinner than the thinnest phone out there now.

  • better geek

    wow your a fucking idiot ever heard of SGS2? its smaller and has 4 g..or the NEXUS S 4g???

    • JayMonster

      Hey Mr. Genius... which one of those is currently sporting an LTE radio? Oh, that's right none of them.

      Thanks for showing your arrogant ignorance. Now please go crawl back under that rock.

    • hillbilliegreg

      what govt school taught you your debating skills

      • JayMonster

        Too many big words for ya, Hillbille?