Why a 4 inch iPhone screen isn’t as Big as You Think.

Why a 4″ iPhone Screen Makes Sense.

Since the launch of the original iphone, it has sported a a modest 3.5 inch display. However amidst growing rumor and speculation about the next generation iPhone coming Fall 2012, it has been all but confirmed that a 4 inch screen is coming, multiple LCD manufacturers are building these displays right now.

It has long been argued that the 3.5 inch screen is built the way it is to be operated easily and comfortably by the user. It has been argued that a screen any bigger would throw off this balance and be too large and cumbersome for most users with normal sized hands. See this graphic:

source: http://www.androidauthority.com/why-the-iphone-never-went-beyond-3-5-inch-displays-and-probably-wont-ever-30895/

However, it is my speculation that the 4″ jump on the upcoming iphone won’t be just a jump from 3.5 inches to 4 inches, it will also be accompanied by a jump from 3:2 aspect ratio to a 16:9 aspect ratio.

What does a 16:9 aspect ratio mean for the new iPhone?

Lets see some calculations:

Current iPhone (4/4S) Screen Specifications:
Aspect Ratio | Resolution | Height | Width | Diagonal
     3:2                 960×640       2.912       1.941         3.5″

The current iPhone is less than 2 inches wide, which is some of the reason it is so easy to use with one thumb.
What does a 16:9 aspect ratio with a 4″ screen mean?

Proposed 16:9 iPhone Screen Specifications
Aspect Ratio | Resolution | Height | Width | Diagonal
       16:9             1138×640        3.483   1.961           4″

What does this mean for the magic thumb range number for typing on the keyboard? As it seems… not much, look at the width numbers between the iphone4/4S and the proposed iPhone with a 4″ screen and 16:9 aspect ratio… we are moving from 1.941 inches to 1.961 inches, hardly an issue. Despite a screen size diagonal jump of 14%, the actual width of the screen (and therefore the device as well) is only 1% wider! The width of the 4″ iphone essentially wont grow at all.

Here is an overlay comparison of the current iPhone 3.5″ screen with the proposed 16:9 4″ screen:

Looking at that graphic makes you think that the extra bar of space on the top or bottom will make it easy to incorporate the multitasking system of iOS (doubletaps). Existing applications could be used on the new device leaving a status bar or multitasking icons along the top. New applications will be able to take advantage of the full screen if coded for iOS 6.0

So the takeaways are:

  • A 4″ iphone makes sense, using a 16:9 Aspect Ratio
  • doesn’t fiddle much with the thumb reach for typing
  • expands vertically rather than horizontally (The iphone’s current shape does the same thing; look at it)
  • There is ample space by moving the camera and earpiece higher and the home button lower. This leads me to believe the next iphone will be a longer device, but not wider.
  • moving to a 4″ 16:9 screen, only increases width of iphone screen by 1%


Please note, I am in no way affiliated with Apple, nor do I have any insider information. This article is purely speculative.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *