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Smartphones have outgrown the average pants pocket, designer says

  • smartphone pants 2.jpg

    Supersize phones like the Samsung Galaxy line are forcing clothing designers to rethink the capacity of pants pockets. (FoxNews.com / Jeremy A. Kaplan)

  • smartphone pants.jpg

    Supersize phones like the Samsung Galaxy line are forcing clothing designers to rethink the capacity of pants pockets. (FoxNews.com / Jeremy A. Kaplan)

They're too big for YOUR britches.

Like flat screens and french fries before them, smartphones have been supersized, swelling in length and girth as more Americans use them to surf the web and send emails.

The Samsung Galaxy S from 2010 was 2.53 inches wide and 4.82 inches tall; the newly announced 2013 edition is 2.83 by 5.5 -- too big for the average pair of American khakis, said Doug Conklyn, senior vice president of global design for Dockers.

'How well does it fit in my pants? It doesn’t.'

- Nick Sullivan, fashion director for Esquire magazine

“We recently increased the size of our ‘coin pocket,’ which is the pocket-within-the-pocket on the wearer’s right, from 3x3 to 4x4 to accommodate today’s larger phones,” Conklyn told FoxNews.com.

“We have an amazing technical design team at Dockers that takes the time to ensure that the latest phones fit in our pockets,” he said.

A standard pants pocket is around 13 inches deep, Conklyn said. And with phones growing quickly to fill that space, designers are keeping a wary eye open.

“We don’t have fit sessions without having a smartphone on hand or an iPhone to make sure that the pockets are all designed to be perfectly functional,” said Simon Kneen, creative director and executive vice president of design for Banana Republic.

Kneen carries two phones, an iPhone 4 and a 4S -- usually in his rear pants pocket, a bag or his sportcoat. “Chest pockets you can get a lot into,” Kneen told FoxNews.com. Still, Banana Republic hasn’t had to work around the size of the smartphone just yet.

“We’ve been designing around technology [for years],” he said. “We don’t think we’re behind the curve at all on this.”

Just wait for the next crop, however.

The gargantuan Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3, unveiled April 11, has a body 6.6 inches long. Chinese company Huawei announced an enormous phone called the Ascend Mate in January that’s 6.44 inches.

Oddball beasts aside, the leading phones from top manufacturers today are already seam-stretchers: The Galaxy S4, to be unleashed on unassuming pockets at the end of the month, measures 5.38 inches from tip to toe. HTC’s First (that’s the “Facebook phone” to you and me) is 4.96 inches tall, while the iPhone 5 is 4.87 inches.

And that’s just phones. The “phablet” market -- the merger of tablets and smartphones into enormous, wildly popular hybrids -- are bigger giants. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 is 5.78 inches tall, for example. And the LG Intuition is 5.5 inches long and 3.56 inches wide -- try squeezing that in your pocket.

Conklyn suggests the company’s Mobile Pocket Khaki, which has a special phone pocket.

“It has a subtle, almost hidden side zipper that easily conceals today’s larger smartphones,” he told FoxNews.com. But even that wasn’t big enough. Dockers updated the Mobile Pocket Khaki in Spring 2013, for both “aesthetic and practical reasons,” Conklyn said.

Don’t expect smartphones to shrink anytime soon either, explained Nick DiCarlo, a vice president at phone giant Samsung.

“They’re going to keep getting bigger, for sure,” DiCarlo told areporters last week.

Sascha Segan, lead mobile analyst for PCMag.com, confirmed that sentiment.

“Phones are getting bigger and bigger because people are primarily using them for Internet access and touch applications, both of which benefit from a bigger window onto the world. But at a certain point, the device just isn't handheld anymore; it gets unwieldy,” he told FoxNews.com.

And then there's Apple. Like the chicken option at a steak house, the iPhone has stubbornly resisted the supersize trend. The first iPhone was 4.5 inches tall and had a 3.5 inch screen. The newest model has a half-inch bigger screen and is 0.37 inches taller.

Even that won't always fit, said Nick Sullivan, fashion director for Esquire magazine.

“How well does it fit in my pants? It doesn’t,” Sullivan told FoxNews.com. He carries an iPhone 4S and a Mophie battery pack -- a combo he said simply doesn’t work. Sullivan said a better option is the inside breast pocket of the jacket.

“These are usually suspended from the inside of the canvassing, which means they are built structurally to carry weight. Putting anything inside pockets of a jacket can create unsightly bulges and ruin the line of the jacket,” Sullivan told FoxNews.com.

There's one last resort, of course: the belt clip. Please don't, Sullivan said.

“Once it's true they were the show-off badge of the early adopter of the PDA. But rarely are these people also interested in style.”

Jeremy A. Kaplan is Science and Technology editor at FoxNews.com, where he heads up coverage of gadgets, the online world, space travel, nature, the environment, and more. Prior to joining Fox, he was executive editor of PC Magazine, co-host of the Fastest Geek competition, and a founding editor of GoodCleanTech.