Originally published at The Atlantic

“Big news,” Apple’s website reads today, in text set over a photo of the new smartphone models the company just announced. Two big iPhones display what look like gaseous planets. Big ones, like Jupiter, but maybe bigger than that, even. These phones are big.

Big money, for one thing—almost $1,500 for the top-of-the-line. But more than that, big screens. The biggest one boasts a 6.5-inch display. But even the small phones are big now. The “entry” model, the iPhone XR, has a 6.1-inch display, almost three-quarters of an inch bigger than the iPhone 8 Plus, the previous large-screen model. The iPhone 8, which has the same footprint as models made since the 2014 iPhone 6, rocks “only” a 4.7-inch display.

All these numbers and letters muddle matters a bit. Here’s the message: The new iPhones are huge. Absurdly huge.

What’s going on? Bigger, costlier devices generate more profit, for one part. But for another, consumers seem to want bigger phones. They also want big houses, big cars, big televisions. Big is good, small is bad. But Apple also has been pushing bigger models on its customers, so calling the trend a consumer choice is misleading and incomplete.

Instead, Apple is making a statement about how you ought to use your smartphone. Not casually, but wholly. With your entire face and body involved. Both hands gripped fast to the device, held close, so the external world can recede and the smartphone’s can take its place.

published September 26, 2018