Wednesday, September 10, 2014

iPhone 6 screen sizes

One of the bigger design pains in our neck is that iPhone 4 screens are 4:3 and iPhone 5 screens are 16:9.  The sensors in the iPhone (and almost all other portables) are 4:3.   The design considerations for a 4:3 image on a 4:3 screen and a 16:9 screen are very different, and Apple has solved that nicely with its own photo app.  So I was interested to see what the iPhone 6 aspect ratio was (the number of pixels doesn't matter that much for writing the software other than memory pressure).

It turns out the new phones are about 16:9, but in confirming that I was interested to see it is not always exact.  Those integers are pesky and thank goodness square pixels seem to be here to stay.  The exact numbers (from this chart) are:

iPhone 5 models
  •  1136-by-640-pixel
  •  326 ppi
  • 15.975:1 aspect ratio

iPhone 6
  •  1334-by-750-pixel
  •  326 ppi
  • 16.008:1 aspect ratio 

iPhone 6 plus
  •  1920-by-1080-pixel
  •  401 ppi
  • 16:1 aspect ratio

I doubt that being exactly 16:1 makes any real difference in practice, but I'll be curious to see if 1080p content looks noticeably better on the 6 plus.  Such content looks much better on 720p screens than I would expect.

A side note is I have heard a lot this morning that Apple has not added a "revolutionary" product with the watch, "unlike the last one, the iPad".  I recall the disappointment that the iPad was just a big iPod, which is why it was revolutionary in practice: a big screen information appliance.  I think the watch will be even more huge and is revolutionary, and I have bet a bottle of bourbon with John Regehr on this (and have not sold my Apple stock).

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