Smartphone screens have gotten larger and larger in recent years. It’s increasingly difficult to find a phone with decent specs and a display smaller than 6 inches.  So last year Eric Migicovsky wrote an ode to small-screen phones and asked other folks who were interested in one to sign a survey to express their interest.

Now it looks like Migicovsky has assembled a small team of people looking to turn the Small Android Phone idea into reality.

Some camera layout/design concepts from the Small Android Phone project (via The Verge)

While anyone can just say they want to build a phone, Migicovsky has a bit of credibility in the hardware space. He founded Pebble, an early innovator in the smartwatch space (and early Kickstarter success story). Pebble was eventually acquired and killed by Fitbit… which was then acquired and killed by Google. Pebble watches developed a small but loyal fanbase – thousands of people were still using the watches as of a few months ago.

So Migicovsky and other folks from Pebble do know a thing or two about hardware and software development, and the Small Android Phone team includes a number of Pebble alumni.

At this point, the team seems to be kicking around ideas for the phone. Specs haven’t been finalized yet, but The Verge reports that the team has been showing concepts and talking to community members in “a small Discord.”

Among other things, the first Small Android Phone will likely have near-flagship specs and features such as a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 or a next-gen Snapdragon 7 series chip, a decent camera system headed by an approximately 50MP sensor, plus camera software that will allow users to snap high-quality photos.

Odds are that the phone will sell for around $850 despite having the kind of specs you might find from a $650 to $700 phone from a larger company. That’s the cost of buying a niche device from a startup that won’t be getting the same kind of discount pricing that comes from manufacturing high-volume components: the Small Android Team expects to manufacturer tens of thousands of phones for its first batch, while companies like Samsung and Apple manufacturer millions.

But in an interview with The Verge, Benjamin Bryant, one of the project’s leaders, says the team is already in talks with a “Tier 1” manufacturer, meaning the phone would actually be assembled by one of the companies responsible for many other high-quality phones on the market.

Of course, one of the hardest components to source will likely be the screen. Like I said, most phones these days have bigger screens, so it might be tough to find off-the-shelf displays that are appropriate for a small-screen phone. That could mean the team will have to develop its own screens, which would likely drive the price even higher.

Once the hardware, design, and potential manufacturing partner are settled on, the next step will most likely be a crowdfunding campaign to raise the money to actually build the Small Android Phone.

In other words, there’s no guarantee that this thing is actually going to get made. But there’s at least a chance that a small team of developers with relatively modest sales goals could pull off the production of something that larger phone makers are no longer interested in making: phones with small displays for the handful of die-hard loyalists who still call big-screen phones phablets.

You can read more about the Small Android Phone project at The Verge.

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  1. Wow – hard to imagine. I can barely read text on my 6 inch android. My next will be bigger – I fat finger all the time cause the phone I have to too tiny for me

  2. Been using iPhone mini and it’s about the perfect size. Don’t like the battery life though. The thing has more power than it needs. Only feature I’d like is a zoomed camera. I like taking pics of mountains from the side of the road.

  3. I would love to have a smartphone with a 5.5″ screen and mid-tier specs. My current phone is 6.5″ and always feels too big for comfortable one handed use.

  4. Brad, what about an article on Smart watches with sim and Android?
    I have just recently ordered Q668. It is Chines model, but hard to find an Android from MS companies.
    The issue I had with those smart watches was screen being to small. Although I wanted small they were to small at 1.54″ usually.
    Now manufacturers finally figured out and they started making 1.7 , 1.88 inch and finally my is 2,08 inch. Ok you can get gigantic 3 inch smart watch, but than I can strap my smartphone to wrist 😀

  5. I wish them well. The best case scenario for those of us who prefer a smaller phone is that this effort is successful enough that it convinces Samsung or one of the smaller players to start producing a ~5″ phone with midrange specs and a decent camera.

      1. I don’t think I’d like a folding smartphone form factor — in your pocket it’s really thick, in your hand it’s still a 6.5″ phone. And also the Z Flip 4 is a $1,000 phone, which is way out of my price range.

    1. The Unihertz Jelly/Atom are small, but at 4″ it’s too small for a lot of people. Their cameras are not very good either, and no one wants to be ashamed of the pictures they take.
      And while I know you mean non-smartphones, in case it wasn’t obvious, a 6.5″ smartphone is what’s regular these days.

      1. Daily Jelly 2 user here. The stock camera application makes the pictures pretty bad. Side-loading the Google Camera Go app onto it helped A LOT.
        Indeed 6.5″ is the norm these days and many people are happy with huge phones. I’m just frustrated that there is nearly no choice to buy a one-handed phone anymore.