The Problem With a 4-inch ‘iPhone 5′ Display


Recent rumours from Digitimes indicated that the next iPhone will sport a 4″ display and house a next-generation A5 chip. Other rumours from the WSJ hint at an iPhone ‘Nano’ with and ‘edge to edge’ screen. We won’t know if any of these come to life until they happen. But in regards to the 4″ display, TUAW breaks down the math as to why this won’t happen anytime soon:

To maintain 326 ppi, the pixel dimensions on a hypothetical 4-inch, 3:2 screen must increase to the neighborhood of 1080 x 720, plus or minus a few pixels.

…App developers would then have three sets of resolutions to support for the iPhone instead of two, and scaling from 960 x 640 to 1080 x 720 wouldn’t be anywhere near as simple as the pixel-doubling that got developers by in the early days before they were able to scale apps up from 480 x 320 resolution. Worse, any apps kept at a 960 x 640 resolution and “zoomed” to fill the new pixel dimensions would probably look pretty terrible; instead of doubling the pixels as happened in the early Retina Display era, the scale works out to 1 1/8 “zoom.”

So there you have it. For iOS developers, it’s hard enough to make that next ‘killer’ app. To support yet another resolution, that would further complicate the mix. What do you think?



  • The screen is big enough as it is. I don’t think a 4″ screen is necessary and definitely not worth the effort.

  • Couldn’t they just keep the same res but increase the size? It would still be pretty solid res.

  • User7c

    at 1 1/8 zoom factor only. just leave existing apps as is. use the new rez going forward.

  • Anonymous

    App developers aren’t Apple’s primary concern. If they make a device that sells like the the current/past versions of the iPhone, developers will update their apps in order to stay competitive. Comparing the current iPhone with most flagship Android phones out there, the Android phones have more screen/less bezel so this would seem like an obvious step for Apple to take.

    Plus, it’s not unlikely that Apple will start dropping support for the 3GS with iOS 5 like they did for the 3G with iOS 4. So once app developers force users to be on iOS 5.x.x for an update, which would potentially no longer support the 3GS, they won’t have to support 480 x 320px resolution.

  • Ryleylamarsh

    Uh. Ya. Just keep the same effin resolution and increase the size. Why is this so hard to understand!?

    For example. All HD TVs are a set resolution of 1920×1080 and come in a huge range of sizes.

    Why would taking the resolution of the iPhone from 3.5 inches to 4 be such a big deal. The resolution is so high I doubt you would even notice! App developers wouldn’t have to change a godamn thing.

    I for one would welcome a larger screen.

  • Ryleylamarsh

    Size of screen I meant

  • Anonymous

    It’s UGLY

  • Bruce Riddick

    Not likely to fit in one hand and still be able to easily access commands with the thumb on the same hand.

  • AnonymousGuy

    Sure, increasing the resolution 720P will force app devs to upgrade their apps. This change is a pain if you are an app programmer, but if you are a consumer – who cares? If anything, this is a major step forward, and any app devs that can’t keep up with hardware upgrades shouldn’t be in app development at all.

  • AnonymousGuy

    I too would welcome a 4″ screen. Along with the relocation (or even elimination) of the home button, it wouldn’t be that much bigger.

  • Megavidiot

    Yes but the problem is for developers now needing to have different versions of the same app, graphically, for users of older phones. That will increase development costs and we wouldn’t see nearly as many 99 cent app or other cheap prices.