Next iPhone and the 4-Inch Screen: The Debate Goes On

 iPhone 4S

If you follow iPhone news as closely as we do on a daily basis, you may have noticed that there is a lot of talk about the 4-inch screen on the next iPhone. The Wall Street Journal and Reuters have each reported through their own sources that the next iPhone will have a larger screen.

However, that doesn’t answer all of our questions right now.

Larger Screen?

We will start by saying that the Wall Street Journal has an excellent track record when it comes to Apple rumors. We wouldn’t be surprised if their source actually happened to be a major person at Apple offering them controlled leaks in order to keep people interested. That said, we are 90 percent sure that the iPhone will have a larger screen.

The real question right now is how Apple will go about it. There are two possibilities:

1) Scale it up – This is the easiest solution, but the entire iPhone would be larger as a result. However, it would not interfere with currently-developed apps, and it would not fragment Apple’s device line as the handset would maintain the same aspect ratio. Developers would likely have no problem with this.

2) Stretch it – This would involve a 4-inch screen at roughly 16:9. While this is also entirely possible, it would mean that the handset could need a new version of iOS to function properly. It would have to accommodate the extra pixel space. Developers would have to rewrite their apps to fit the new aspect ratio as well. This would essentially mean that they have to create several versions of each application: iPad, iPhone 4S and below and then everything for the sixth-gen iPhone from here on out.

What Websites Are Saying

Anthony Wing Kosner for Forbes seems to believe that the 16:9 screen is happening. He offers his own insight, and  reasons for why he thinks Apple will introduce such a screen. One of the biggest indications, is that Jony Ive once told The Evening Standard that Apple does develop products that “seem somehow inevitable,” and somehow the larger screen is in fact inevitable in the smartphone industry. Link

John Gruber of Daring Fireball had a few things to say about the longer screen. He doesn’t seem entirely convinced that the 16:9 screen will happen, but he offers his own speculation. First, he paints a scenario in which Apple is likely to show off iOS 6 at WWDC in June. Would this create a problem for Apple if they are showing off features for an operating system in a handset that hasn’t yet been announced? After all, the new aspect ratio would require apps to be reconfigured. Right? Gruber explains how most well-built apps could work through that.

Will Hains over at Good Will Blogging feels much like Gruber. He doesn’t believe developers will have to do all that much in order to update their apps, since many apps place objects relative to the size of the display. For instance, rotating your iPhone between landscape and portrait requires the applications to adjust to the new aspect ratio on the fly. He explains that only certain apps, such as games with “pixel-for-pixel” art would need to be adjusted. However, this can be done easily with some black padding above and below (or to the right and left) of the screen.


What do you think?

Gruber and Hains offer compelling arguments for how the new aspect ratio can work. Do you think is’t the route Apple will take? Keep in mind that developers seemed eager to adjust to the Retina Display when the iPhone 4 was released.

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