The next iPhone’s screen size

This is a mockup of what an iPhone would look like with a 16:9 screen, keeping the same width and resolution. Source: MacNN

There are lost of rumors about the next iPhone primarily centered around the screen. The leading rumor says that the screen will:

  • Keep the same resolution (pixels per square inch) as the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.
  • Keep the same width: 640 pixels
  • Increase the height: from 960 pixels to 1136 pixels

I think it’s plausible. Some ramifications of this rumor are:

  • A new 16:9 screen ratio, like an HD TV, which is good for watching movies but could make some apps to feel awkward while in landscape mode.
  • A lot of iPhone apps are already “elastic” when it comes to screen height. You can test this today by making a VoIP call and switching to another app. The menu bar doubles in size. Some apps will adjust just fine to that.
  • But many other apps will need developer work in order to look good on the new screen.
  • By making the screen longer but not wider, Apple could possibly keep the same phone size. In a world where Android phones are becoming ridiculously big, this would be a welcome example of Think Different. See artist rendition above.
  • Because of the way LCD screens are manufactured, it makes sense to keep the same resolution as today’s phone and just cut the panels to a different size. Changing the resolution which would require a new production line which can be complicated and expensive.

One thing that most people don’t understand, however, is that making such a phone is not just as simple as slapping the parts together. Rather, it’s a balancing act. Increasing the screen size – all other things equal – implies higher power requirements thus shorter battery time. Apple will also want a faster processor, a thinner form factor, LTE, etc. Can it be done? Maybe –  there are other variables: new thinner and lower power screen technology; more advanced chip manufacturing processes; a smaller Dock connector could all help.

We’ll see soon enough.

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