Apple’s Next iPhone Could Feature a Taller 4-inch Display

BY Jason

Published 10 Apr 2012

There has been several rumors that have indicated that Apple’s next generation iPhone could come with a larger 4-inch display.

But as we have pointed out earlier, a larger screen brings some complexities to the iOS ecosystem depending on whether Apple decides to introduce a new screen resolution for the larger screen or drop the pixel density to keep the screen resolution the same as the current iPhone. If Apple decides to introduce a new screen resolution then it would result in a lot of work for developers.

But modilwar, a member on The Verge forums has come up with an interesting solution based on a comment from a caller named “Colin” on The Vergecast show, which could allow Apple to retain the pixel density of the Retina Display and increase the screen resolution in such a way that will not have any impact on developers who have used standard interface elements in their apps. He explains:

Here’s where the Verge reader Colin’s ideal comes into play. Change the aspect ratio. As I mentioned above, all iPhones (and iPod touches) have had an aspect ratio of 3:2. Could Apple change the aspect ratio to increase the screen size while maintaining the same 326 ppi? What aspect ratio would need to be to hit that 4 inch mark? And most importantly how could app fragmentation be avoided?

Colin’s idea was to keep the shorter side of the iPhones screen the same, i.e. 640 pixels at 1.94 inches. With that in mind how much would the longer side need to increase so the that diagonal measurement was 4 inches. The answer, derived using simple algebraic rearrangement of Pythagorus’s theorem, 1152 pixels and 3.49 inches. That leaves the the diagonal length measuring a little over 3.99 inches, I’m sure Apple PR could round this 4.

For those of you who are good with numbers I’m sure you’ve noted that 1152 x 640 has an aspect ratio of 9:5 and the 1152 pixels is and increase of 192 from 960 and that’s 20% more than on the iPhone 4 and 4S.

As seen in the image below, the increase in height of the display could allow Apple to add one more row of app icons to iPhone’s home screen.

modilwar explains that apps that use standard interface elements such as tab or navigation buttons at the bottom won’t have to make any changes as iOS 6 could auto-magically stretch expand vertically to show more content than the current iPhone. Here are some examples:

Twitter app


He points out that developers of apps such as games that use custom UI elements will have to update their apps for the taller display, but until they update their apps, such apps could be displayed with a 96-pixel bar at the top and bottom of the taller 4-inch display, which may not look too bad.

iPhone Game – Doodle jump

modilwar also explains that the larger 4-inch screen with 9:5 aspect ratio would also be better to view videos that are encoded at a 16:9 aspect ratio.

The large majority of videos nowadays are encoded at a 16:9 aspect ratio. The 3:2 arrangement on the current iPhone leads to a big comprise needing to be made when viewing video.

To see the entire picture of a 16:9 video from YouTube or iTunes, one has to view it in letterbox mode with 940 x 50 pixel black bars on the top and bottom of the screen when viewing in landscape.

If however, you want to make the video take up the entire screen, you have to sacrifice 640 x 89 virtual pixels on either side of the screen.

So how would these 16:9 videos render on 9:5 screen. Let’s take a look.

When you want to view the entire content of the video this time you actually get black bars on the sides. Unlike the 3:2 screen however, these bars are only 7 pixels wide compared to 50 pixels thick ones before.

Interestingly, John Gruber of Daring Fireball, who has a good track record when it comes to Apple related news thanks to his contacts in Apple, has chimed in with his thoughts on modilwar’s solution, which was inspired by Colin’s comment.

Methinks “Colin” wasn’t merely guessing or idly speculating.

Gruber seems to indicate that the next iPhone could indeed feature a taller 4-inch display. It would be a smart way to increase the size of iPhone’s display without impacting all developers.

But it remains to be seen if users will be happy with just a taller display. What’s your take?