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How Apple Could Make the Move to 4.7" iPhone Displays

Amidst the flurry of iPhone 6 rumors coming from KGI Securities' report last week, Ming-Chi Kuo presented the first possible screen resolution for Apple's 4.7" iPhone 6. Kuo lists it as a 1334x750 Retina display with a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch.

Historically, Apple has been very cautious with resolution changes in their iOS devices. The original iPhone was launched with a 320x480 resolution. Eventually, Apple moved to 640x960 Retina display, doubling the linear resolution in each dimension. That allowed existing apps to simply be pixel-doubled to fill the entire screen. Developers could then take their time to update their apps to fully support the higher resolution display. When Apple moved from 3.5" to 4" screens in the iPhone 5, they simply added vertical resolution. This allowed existing apps to run in a letterboxed format with black bars at the top and bottom of the screen.

iphone-screen-sizes
Relative iPhone display sizes by Redtech

Right before the 4" iPhone releases, Apple began encouraging developers to use AutoLayout in designing their apps:
Auto Layout is a system that lets you lay out your app’s user interface by creating a mathematical description of the relationships between the elements. You define these relationships in terms of constraints either on individual elements, or between sets of elements. Using Auto Layout, you can create a dynamic and versatile interface that responds appropriately to changes in screen size, device orientation, and localization.
AutoLayout paves the way for apps to more easily adapt to changes in display sizes and resolution in the future.

If Apple were to adopt a 1334x750 4.7" display as predicted by Kuo, it would preserve the same pixel density (326 ppi) as the iPhone 5s. That means that all existing user interface elements, such as icons, would be the same size but would allow for more screen space.

Our designer found that using the exact same icons and spacing them out to fill the screen, 1334x750 pixels allows Apple to fit exactly one extra row of icons onto the iPhone home screen. This mockup shows the relative size of the 4.7" iPhone screen and how much extra room there would be using the exact same icons as on the current iPhone:

iphone5s-64" home screen (left) vs 4.7" home screen (right)


Meanwhile, existing unoptimized apps could function in a "letterbox" style with black borders for unused screen space. TheVerge forum user Pi is exactly 3 created a mockup showing this exact scenario. This image shows how an "unoptimized" app would appear (left) compared to one that has been optimized for the 4.7" display (right):

settingsMockup by Pi is exactly 3

Given Apple's past reluctance to blur or break existing apps, it seems that this resolution choice could provide Apple and developers a reasonable upgrade path for a larger factor iPhone. Apple has acknowledged that customers want larger iPhones and all iPhone 6 rumors are pointing to a larger iPhone device this year.

Related roundup: iPhone 6

Top Rated Comments

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24 weeks ago
Another row! Yeah!
Rating: 35 Votes
24 weeks ago
but Apple and all the fan boys said 3.5" is the perfect size :D
Rating: 26 Votes
24 weeks ago
I still think they will double the iPhone 5s resolution, 326 ppi on a 4.7" is good but is not future proof. If they make a bigger iPhone in the future like 5" it would have around only 300 ppi, then will need to get ANOTHER resolution change! I talk about this in detail in a thread I made if your interested.
http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1699542

The iPhone can also handle the higher resolution, just look at the Retina iPad Mini, same specs and much higher resolution.

And they better come up with something more productive and creative to take up the extra space on the iPad and the iPhone 6 with IOS 8. The iPad just got the hand me down features the iPhone got on IOS 7, The iPad needs features that take advantage of the huge landscape,
Split screen? Widgets? Live larger icons? SOMETHING!!!!!
Rating: 25 Votes
24 weeks ago
that letterbox looks terrible...
Rating: 18 Votes
24 weeks ago

that letterbox looks terrible...


would look even worse if the graphics are stretched and blurred
Rating: 16 Votes
24 weeks ago

Just horrible as an Apple phablet. That's a mistake if it ever is made. So many Apple phablet rumours these days. We have 2 options:

1. The rumours are all wrong. No harm done.
2. Apple will make the mistake of making an Apple phablet.

If No.2 happens I will be upset. I want to buy an iPhone 6 maybe. But if Apple only releases the iPhablet 6 then I'll be forced to buy old tech or stick with my iPhone 1.

And making both an iPhone 6 and an iPhablet 6 is a no go as well. Apple already have enough SKUs. Too many is what ****ed Apple up in the 90s. No going and repeating that all over again.

Apple is on the cusp of me not buying the iPhablet 6 (or any iPhones anymore). Even though I do like the iPhone line, I don't want to buy a phablet.


Whatever dude nice rant but 4,7 is not a phablet especially if they make a clever design not even close.

Try again.
Rating: 12 Votes
24 weeks ago
As an iOS developer I cant wait to have a new screen size (or two) to play about with when designing apps, the additional real-estate could pave the way for making similar UI's for both the iPhone and iPad
Rating: 11 Votes
24 weeks ago

Maybe they should introduce on-screen buttons.


No.

A 1334x750 is stupid and doesn't make any sense. It will make app development harder since there is really no relation to any of the other devices.
Rating: 11 Votes
24 weeks ago

but Apple and all the fan boys said 3.5" is the perfect size :D


It is for me. Whenever I have to go back to using my wife's iPhone 4 I just love it. It fits in my pocket. It's super easy to use because I don't have to do some crazy thumb stretch just to tap a button.

3.5" is the perfect size screen. There is no reason to make a bigger screen. The "bigger is better" crowd is ruining UX time and time again.
Rating: 11 Votes
24 weeks ago

Having nothing but rows of icons on your home screen made sense when the original iPhone came out because the power just wasn't there. Phones these days are desktop class machines of yesteryear and Apple needs to get you more functionality out of the home screen. People multitask and having to go to the home screen every time I want to do something else is getting very bothersome.

The only reason I still have an iPhone is that my jailbreak gets me the functionality I want (and allows me to stick with the wonderful ecosystem). Apps like BiteSMS, activator, flipcontrolcenter, springtomize are the only reason I'm still using an iPhone!


The reason the home screen is a row of apps is because Apple's focus has NEVER been the home screen.

It's all about the apps.

Actually, now that I think about it - my "desktop" is a big grid of "apps" and folders. So what exactly does being "desktop class" have to do with some additional "functionality" on the home screen.

Its a portal, a screen you aren't meant to be on long. Because all the work is done inside the apps. They are the stars in iOS - which is why app quality has always been better on iOS (though the gap has closed). Apple focuses on letting the OS retreat so the user can focus on the apps. Android tries to do everything in the OS, while the apps are secondary.

You like the way Android works, go buy Android.
Rating: 10 Votes

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