Transition to '3x' iPhone 6 at 1704 x 960 Likely Smoother Than Move to Retina

With an expected transition to a larger screen on the iPhone 6, MacRumors forum member pgiguere1 has taken a look at how non-optimized apps would appear on a rumored 1704 x 960 display that would move from the current "2x" pixel doubling technique to achieve Retina quality to a "3x" technique.

In Apple's earlier transition to 2x Retina displays, it was relatively simple for non-Retina assets to be scaled up using automatic pixel doubling techniques to represent a single non-Retina pixel as a 2x2 grid of Retina pixels until developers could get up to speed. But with a potential move to 3x (or 1.5 times current Retina), many have wondered if that transition would be awkward.

As pgiguere1 shows, while developers will undoubtedly want to optimize their apps with new 3x graphical assets, automatic scaling of current 2x assets will look considerably better on this new iPhone display than non-Retina assets did during the transition to 2x.

icons_3x_enlarged

Keep in mind however that unlike with the @1x -> @2x transition we had in 2010, this time we’d only have a 50% enlargement rather than 100%.

The thing is, a 50% enlargement with interpolation doesn’t look worse than a 100% enlargement with pixel-doubling, despite the loss of details due to the interpolation. [...]

As you can see, older non-@3x-optimized apps would actually look better on an @3x iPhone than non-@2x-opitmized apps did on an @2x iPhone. Add to this the fact that the screen's pixel density would be higher this time around, and the perceived image quality difference would be even smaller.

text_3x_enlarged
While Apple is unlikely to announce a new resolution for the iPhone 6 at next month's Worldwide Developers Conference, the company is likely to begin providing more tools and encouraging developers to speed a push toward resolution-independent vector graphics and other changes that will facilitate a smooth transition to denser displays. But for those developers who are not ready by iPhone 6 launch day, their users are likely to still have a decent experience with unoptimized apps.

Top Rated Comments

ionjohn Avatar
101 months ago
Apple is awesome at making unknown resolutions!
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Bathplug Avatar
101 months ago
I wonder how many developers will still release paid updates because they've "re-written the app from the ground up"
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
taptic Avatar
101 months ago
Hey hey! Who knew!? You can actually post stuff that doesn't involve a mockup?!
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sualpine Avatar
101 months ago
Any perception of how "rough" or "smooth" this will be is irrelevant.

The complaint originates from developers who spend more time complaining than developing.

Remember how "rough" it was getting native iPad apps in 2010?
Remember how "rough" it was waiting for retina iPhone apps later in 2010?
Or how "rough" it was for iPad retina apps in 2012?
Or how "rough" it was for developers to move to the iOS 7 design language?
Or my personal favorite, how "rough" the Intel transition was?
And the "rough" transition to OS X retina apps for the rMBP?
And why stop there? Remember how "rough" System 7 to Mac OS 8 was? And OS 9 to OS X?

The point is, they'll always call it "rough", and it's never as bad as they say it is.

They're always going to complain.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nerdAFK Avatar
101 months ago
No doubt about that.

My One M7's 1920x1080 res is obviously much sharper than the 1136x640 of my 5s. People keep telling themselves higher res is pointless, and most of them have never tried.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
aaronsullivan Avatar
101 months ago
Any perception of how "rough" or "smooth" this will be is irrelevant.

The complaint originates from developers who spend more time complaining than developing.

Remember how "rough" it was getting native iPad apps in 2010?
Remember how "rough" it was waiting for retina iPhone apps later in 2010?
Or how "rough" it was for iPad retina apps in 2012?
Or how "rough" it was for developers to move to the iOS 7 design language?
Or my personal favorite, how "rough" the Intel transition was?
And the "rough" transition to OS X retina apps for the rMBP?
And why stop there? Remember how "rough" System 7 to Mac OS 8 was? And OS 9 to OS X?

The point is, they'll always call it "rough", and it's never as bad as they say it is.

They're always going to complain.
That's a nice list. Where is your evidence that it's not rough? It was and is. It often multiplies the time and effort that is needed to complete a project. A limited number of screen resolutions is an advantage that iOS developers have enjoyed for a long time. Customers on the platform value a pristine look and polish and the competition is very heavy. When someone tells you your job is about to get twice as hard and you aren't getting any more time or money to work on it, it's not such an unusual thing to complain.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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