Earlier on I was reading an interesting article put together by The Verge, based on one of its forum user’s impressions of what an iPhone display could look like if it was 4″ diagonally instead of 3.5″. The conclusion was that if the next iPhone was to have a 4-inch display, without losing any pixel density, it would need to have a longer/narrower ratio. Instead of being 3:2 like the current one, it’d be 9:5. That way, it’d still have enough pixels squashed close enough together on screen to be classed as a Retina display. (i.e. over 300ppi.)
My only issue is: I like the current ratio. Sure, it’s not Widescreen 16:9, but for iOS it works really well. There’s a nice balance between using it and typing in Portrait or Landscape. Granted, this is my own personal preference, and not some deeply researched argument in to the world of pixels and app development.
In most cases of native software screen shots, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a longer and narrower display. You can fit more info on it – looking at the screenshots and mockups above. It might be nice to see a larger list of contacts, or tweets (for example). But, for me, it’s the little things, like the phone keypad. It’s so stretched out, it just doesn’t look natural, or iOS-y. I’m ready to admit, I’ve just become accustomed to how it is now, and that perhaps I’m not as ready for change as I though I was.
Many will argue the case that Apple won’t change anything to keep developers happy. I approach that argument from another angle. iOS is very popular, any developer in his/her sane mind would climb through rings of fire to get their app in to the App Store. Historically, it makes the software designer much more money than the Android market, and is perceived by many as being a much classier place to sell apps. Even RIM has decided to block the ability of users to side load the
Android Market Google Play store/thing on to its Playbook tablet, calling it a “cesspool”.
If Apple’s designers decided that the next iPhone had a ratio and pixel density identical to the current iPhone, but on a larger screen, it would mean that software devs would need to create yet another version of the app to go alongside the iPad and current iPhone one. Why? Simple, to have the same aspect ratio and same pixel density would mean needing a much higher resolution display. Approx – 730 x 1095 pixels versus the current 640 x 960. Those extra dots on screen need filling, which means more work for devs. More work = more frustration. In time it would lead to more money for wires and code making machines, or whatever software guys spend their cash on. (Maybe a scale model of the Delorean being driven by Marty McFly.) We know that Apple has a certain arrogance, and once it deems a resolution, or ratio as being “better” the opinion will rarely change.
On the flip side, if Cupertino’s team decide to build with the interest of developers put first, they could always make do with the same resolution stretched over a larger display. It would be 288 ppi. That’s 38 pixels per inch lower than the iPhone 4/4S, but it’s still 24 ppi higher than the new iPad, which is far from fuzzy. Personally, I’ve grown to like larger displays over the past year or so. Despite being based on PenTile technology and appearing a little fuzzy around the edges, the Nexus’ display was a lot more impressive to me than Apple’s – due to its size. It makes any experience more immersive. A 288ppi 4-inch display wouldn’t be a market leader, but, it would still be better than the current, smaller screen.
What would you be happy with? Should Apple change the ratio to make achieving a higher pixel density easier? Should they play on the side of developers and just stretch out the same resolution over a larger area? Or, should they keep the sharpness – and force devs to make new versions of apps – keeping ratio and pixel density the same over a 4″ display?