Apple CEO Tim Cook gave a lengthy interview to Charlie Rose this week, following the company’s big event where it announced the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, and Apple Watch.
In one segment, Cook explains why Apple waited so long to make phones with big screens even though Samsung and other manufacturers had been making them for years.
According to a transcript of the interview, which airs Friday night on PBS, Rose asked Cook if the iPhone 6 was a response to Samsung’s phones.
Cook said no.
“Honestly …we could have done a larger iPhone years ago,” Cook said. “It’s never just about making a larger phone. It’s about making a better phone in every single way.”
Cook went on to say that Apple wanted to make sure the display, battery, and software were ready for the bigger form factor before shipping. For example, Apple developed a one-handed mode for the bigger iPhones that pops the top portion of the screen down so the user can reach it with one hand.
Cook’s answer is similar to one he gave in 2012 when asked by Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher at the AllThingsD conference why Apple didn’t make a bigger iPhone. At the time, Apple’s best phone was the iPhone 4S, which had a relatively tiny 3.5-inch screen. Cook said Apple thought it was important for iPhone owners to be able to use the device with one hand. He also said there were other considerations like battery life to take into account.
Still, there’s reason to remain sceptical of Cook’s response. Samsung phones come with excellent displays. Its Galaxy Note series of phones have 5.7-inch screens and really good battery life. If Samsung was able to do that for so many years, why couldn’t Apple?
On the other hand, Apple’s new big-screen phones are thinner, sleeker, and more attractive than Samsung’s devices. That could’ve been what Apple was waiting for.