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iPhone 6 / iPhone 6 Plus Display Resolutions Explained [Infographic]

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Apple introduced the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus this Tuesday, opening up a new chapter in the company’s history: it launched two different models, each with two display sizes. While both models have Retina HD display, the iPhone 6 has a display of 1334 x 750 pixels at 326 ppi, and the 5.5-inch version sports a 1920 x 1080 pixel, 401 ppi display. The new models substantially change the way graphics are rendered, and PaintCode has put together an infographic for us to better understand it.

Right after the first information leaks surfaced claiming that Apple would opt for a bigger, 4.7-inch and maybe 5.5-inch display, the next obvious question was: What resolution will that display(or displays) have?

So a wave of speculation and guesswork has started, but the most detailed explanation for Apple’s possible choices came from John Gruber before the Apple event.

While he tried to explain in plain English what Apple’s strategy would be, now that the iPhones are here, it is much easier to understand it in the light of the actual resolution the company opted for.

To get started, we need to understand what those “points” – often mentioned in iPhone resolution reports – are. As the infographic posted by the guys behind Paintcodeapp highlights, the coordinates of all drawings are specified in points. These are abstract units, which only make sense in that space, but in our case, the original iPhone’s points corresponded perfectly to the actual pixels on the screen (remember that 320 x 480 display?) Well, that’s no longer true.

You’ll find the rest of the explanation here.

Screen Shot 2014 09 12 at 18 09 35

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  • That’s annoying that they used “points” as an abstract unit in this chart, since points are an actual unit of length in graphic design.

    As for the actual information though, that’s very interesting. I didn’t know that the iPhone 6 Plus interpolates ALL of the imagery that you’re seeing. That’s really annoying. I suppose the resolution is high enough that it doesn’t really matter, but it would bug me knowing that nothing I’m seeing on screen is being rendered and displayed pixel-for-pixel. Weird.

  • Then again, I just realized I’m already doing that on my Retina MBP. It bugged me at first, but eventually I got used to the sharpness of it, and it just seems normal now. I suppose the same would happen with the iPhone 6 Plus, although because of the higher pixel density and the lack of an option to see anything ever rendered pixel-for-pixel, it’s likely no one will ever notice.

  • Julien

    Why is it annoying that they are using points ? That’s what Apple uses as the unit of length for the apps interfaces. They ask the developers to then provide assets (images etc) 3 times the size in pixels that they should be in points (a 5×5 points image in the interface should be sent as a 15×15 pixels image) and it’s the device’s job to render it on screen as shown on the article’s chart.

    As for pixel-for-pixel rendering I suppose that the videos and real-time graphics will be rendered that way.

  • It’s annoying because I already know points as a specific unit of measurement (they’re actually used for fonts all the time). It’s like Apple choosing to use the word “yards” to talk about it. When I hear that something is 414 points wide, I can picture that width roughly in my head, but then I look at the chart and think “there’s no way the iPhone 6 Plus is 5.75 inches wide!”

    Based on this chart, it sounds like everything is rendered at 2208×1242 and then downscaled to the screen resolution. Although you’re right, it would make much more sense for 1080p videos and real-time graphics to be rendered and mapped pixel-for-pixel.

  • Julien

    Oh ! True ! I see your point now (pun intended :D)

    Anyway… Sooo which one did you pre order ? 😛

  • Julien

    To quote Apple: “The purpose of using points (and the logical coordinate system) is to provide a consistent size of output that is device independent. For most purposes, the actual size of a point is irrelevant. The goal of points is to provide a relatively consistent scale that you can use in your code to specify the size and position of views and rendered content. How points are actually mapped to pixels is a detail that is handled by the system frameworks. For example, on a device with a high-resolution screen, a line that is one point wide may actually result in a line that is two physical pixels wide. The result is that if you draw the same content on two similar devices, with only one of them having a high-resolution screen, the content appears to be about the same size on both devices.”

  • Stefan

    Eventually everything gets rendered pixel by pixel. Point is exactly what is says it is. One of the reasons why apple picked a point is that there is no way user can touch specific pixel with a finger, especially on a high DPI screen. When dev are reading those inputs the coordinates are in Points.

  • Shameer Mulji

    Regarding the 6 Plus specifically, I wonder what kind of hit on battery life, CPU / GPU performance, and RAM (given that rumors say the A8 chip has only 1GB of RAM) will be? Hopefully the UI performs smoothly and doesn’t stutter.

  • Stefan, I understand what the purpose of the “points” is and that all makes sense. It’s a great idea to use an abstract measurement to define the layout grid of the interface. All I was saying was that I wish they had come up with a term that wasn’t already an established measurement of length. I just think it should be called something different to avoid confusion with the graphic design measurement that is exactly 1/72 of an inch. Too late for that now, but I just found it irritating.

    Also, according to this infographic, nothing is rendered pixel-for-pixel on the iPhone 6 Plus. It’s all rendered at 2208×1242 and then interpolated (downsampled) to 1920×1080. You can see this in the example of the 1-point wide line at the bottom of the infographic. The line on the 6 Plus does not have sharp edges like the lines on the other two phones because it’s been interpolated.

    (…and see, there’s another thing that’s frustrating. A 1-point wide line in design software would be exactly 1/72 of an inch wide. I use them all the time, actually. But it’s not the same width on an iPhone. See? Frustrating.)

  • Ha ha. Thanks.

    I didn’t actually pre-order anything as I’m currently living in Uganda for a few months. When I get home I’d love to get a 64GB iPhone 6, but it would depend on our budget and what Fido wants to charge me for an early upgrade.

    I don’t like big phones so I was never interested in the Plus. Knowing that the screen is displaying interpolated content just makes me that much more content to not have one. 🙂

  • Stefan

    I see your point now. :

  • Julien

    I doubt (or at least hope not cause I preordered one lol) it would be that much of a hit… At least not on CPU/GPU performance. They tend to use the same CPU/GPU (a bit clocked at slightly higher frequency though) on the iPad which needs to render even more pixels than the 6 Plus. Based on last generation the iPad Air UI was still pretty smooth and it had only 1Gb of RAM too.
    I suppose that the 6 Plus’ A8 will be clocked higher than the 6’s one to make up for the difference of screen size but I trust Apple as they tend to really optimize the hardware.
    As for battery life… What they announced is good but time will tell…

  • Julien

    Let’s hope they don’t charge you too much !
    I preordered the 6 Plus cause I plan on taking a lot of pictures/video and the better battery life and OIS were key factors in my decision… I’m still anxious about the size of the phone though… I hope I will get used to it 🙂

  • sukisszoze

    Wow, I actually learned something from discussion between Ryan and Julien..and nobody is bashing each other 🙂

  • Julien

    Downsampling is actually used in gaming to get a sharper and less aliased image instead of using conventional anti aliasing methods …
    If you look at the infographic, yes, the line does not have sharp edges in the 6 Plus but the ‘a’ letter is way sharper in that same iPhone…
    And I’ve heard people who were at the hands-on saying that the 6 Plus’ display is actually sharper than the 6’s one so downsampling may be working well for them… or It could actually be because of the higher pixel density or a combination of both things.
    We will find out in 1 week 🙂

  • Julien

    I have some news coming from the developer documentation at Apple: “In a graphics app that uses Metal or OpenGL ES, content can be easily rendered at the precise dimensions of the display without requiring an additional sampling stage. This is critical in high-performance 3D apps that perform many calculations for each rendered pixel. Instead, create buffers to render into that are the exact resolution of the display.” 🙂

  • Oh, cool. Sounds like you were exactly right then. If they’re doing that for graphics rendered with Metal or Open GL ES, then I would assume they’d also do that for 1080p video content.

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