Friday, May 4, 2012

This Bigger Better iPhone Screen

After yet another round of iPhone 4" screen rumors that I simply refuse to believe, I've decided to throw my thoughts into the wild-ass speculation machine. I am not going to predict whether or not the new iPhone will be taller than the old one, that could be the case, but it's not really relevant to my argument. The claim I take issue with is the idea that the new iPhone screen will have a new aspect ratio. 

The reason I don't buy the "It'll just be taller" argument is because it wouldn't really help with the biggest problem people face using tiny screens—making small text easier to read. Text in a website, PDF, or any other document that has content at a set width will appear no larger on a +height screen than on the current one. Kind-of defeats the purpose of giving people a larger screen. Not only that, but photos (4:3) would not display as well on a +height screen either. They would need to be letterboxed, or cropped even further. Pretty much the only thing that would benefit from a +height screen would be widescreen video in landscape mode. I can't believe Apple would be stupid enough to go that route. Hell, they had their chance to do that with the iPad (a much better video consumption device), but decided the squarer 4:3 aspect ratio made more sense overall.

I find it much more likely that Apple will just keep the phone the same width (as claimed in all the rumors), get rid of the dead space on both sides of the screen, and keep the aspect ratio 3:2. A 4" 3:2 screen would roughly measure 2.22" wide by 3.33" tall. (The current iPhone screen is 1.94" wide by 2.91" tall.) According to Apple's tech specs the iPhone 4S is 2.31" wide. This means they could keep the iPhone the exact same width as the iPhone 4S if they figured out a way to run the screen extremely close to the edge. I've illustrated this below…

The resulting screen would be approximately 0.4" taller than the one on the 4S (+1 for the rumor), and the phone would be the same width it is now (another +1 for the rumor). Not to mention it would make developers extremely happy by not requiring them to support a new screen resolution. Why would Apple unnecessarily complicate things? Makes no sense to me…

Thanks to Marshall Bock for the great iPhone template.