Apple's next iPhone: 4-inch display; 12.5% more productivity

Apple's next iPhone: 4-inch display; 12.5% more productivity

Summary: Could a slightly bigger iPhone display make business users more productive without turning the device into -- gasp -- an Android device?

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The folks at the kerning-challenged 9to5Mac say that they believe Apple is in the process of testing "multiple next-generation iPhones," at least one of which has a larger, higher-resolution display.

The stats:

  • Today's iPhone 4: 3.5 inches diagonal, 3:2 aspect ratio, 640x960 pixels
  • Tomorrow's iPhone: 3.999 inches diagonal (can't we just say 4, people?), almost 16:9 aspect ratio, 640x1136 pixels.

These numbers sound awfully precious for a company as decisive as Apple, but interesting nonetheless. 9to5 says Cupertino isn't just enlarging the display at the existing resolution, but actually adding pixels.

How this will play out in practice -- again, this is all hypothetical, as these things tend to be -- could be interesting. 9to5 suggests more real estate for video watching; what comes to mind here at ZDNet is more real estate for PDFs, Powerpoints and all matter of business documents that leave much to be desired on a smartphone's screen.

There remain several variables:

  1. Apple could pick any of the three known test device models, meaning that the bigger display could still be killed off before introduction.
  2. Will it develop iOS 6 accordingly? More icons and notifications legroom on the home screen, sure. But what will developers say? Seems like a slight break in developmental continuity.

In general, I worry about a conceptual boost in display size. A bigger phone is not necessarily better -- sorry, Android fans -- and pocketability remains important. On the other hand, a slight increase could relieve a few nagging issues (e.g. multimedia viewing, scrolling) with the smaller format without turning the thing into an iPad-like device -- after all, there's plenty of room for more screen on today's iPhone, preserving its physical dimensions and eating away only at the sizable bezel.

But the more I dig into the details of this, the more sense it makes. It's an incremental change, and it might let us see one more row in Excel spreadsheets. If that's all it is, why not?

Illustration: Niilo Autio

Topics: Apple, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility, Smartphones

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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110 comments
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  • Probably still won't go back

    I moved off Iphone for a 4" galaxy S (WP7) and have now moved on to a 4.7" HTC One X. Sorry I can't go back to that teeny weeny Iphone display. I agree with the pocket comment and that's why I don't have a Galaxy Note, but the One X fits in my pocket fine.

    If you want something easy then use WP7. It's easier to use than IOS and you have hardware options. If you want more power and flexibility then Android. Iphone isn't a good choice anymore. This comes from someone who had the original Iphone 2G and it was the best thing ever in 2007, but not anymore.
    alderran
    • Dude

      "I moved off Iphone for a 4" galaxy S (WP7) and have now moved on to a 4.7" HTC One X. "
      If you're going to lie, and make things up to support Window Phone 7, at least don't say you bought an Android phone. You went as far as to list Android phones not once (Samsung Galaxy S), but twice (HTC One X). Neither of those phones run Window 7.....
      Jumpin Jack Flash
      • Oh yeah, this one

        Funny, as soon as I read, "I moved off iPhone," I knew the Windows Phone sales pitch was coming. The Munchkins don't realize that when they follow templates like that, their notes are so similar that they give themselves away. The detour into Android was cute the first time, but now we've seen it too many times not to recognize it as Munchkin Template #3057.
        Robert Hahn
      • @Robert Hahn

        I actually do have a WP7 and I love it!! What template does that follow, genius?
        kstap
      • kris_stapley

        When someone is making a case for WP 7, why claim to have bought, not one, but two different Android phones? "I moved off Iphone for a 4"[b] galaxy S[/b] (runs Android, not WP 7) and have now moved on to a [b]4.7" HTC One X.[/b] (also runs Android, not WP 7) ". like I said, if someone needs to make up a story, at least make said story plausible. Another hole in the fabrication is the second generation iPhone was released in 2008. I've also noted the Microsoft fanboys are starting to show up, as they're voting my post down simply because I'm questioning one of their own...
        Jumpin Jack Flash
      • Windows phone sales pitch?

        Okay, now I know you guys have lost it. You are picking this guy apart and failing because he clearly wrote:
        [i]If you want more power and flexibility then Android[/i]

        This is your proof that he is pitching WP7?

        He chose Android because he wanted more power and flexibility. Makes sense. Android is the most "open" which has its advantages and disadvantages. You guys really look bad for accusing him of doing something that is clearly not supported by what he wrote. Out of 7 sentences, only 1 had anything to do with WP7.

        But go ahead, I'm not sure either of you can damage your staked reputation any more than you already have.
        toddbottom3
      • Trollbottm3

        What part of the WP 7 sales pitch did you miss. "I moved off Iphone for a 4" galaxy S (WP7) " Even though a Samsung Galaxy S runs Android! "If you want something easy then use WP7. It's easier to use than IOS and you have hardware options. " which is an untruth, WP 7 is not easier, just different. But in your Zeal to point your finger and claim "I'm a Window Phone 7 fan, and I'm better than you" you missed that your fellow fanboy screwed up the delivery.
        Jumpin Jack Flash
      • Like I said, you guys have lost it

        If someone wrote a huge long post about how much they liked Toyota and how fuel efficient Toyota cars were and how they own a Toyota and how Toyotas are safe and reliable and in the middle of it, they write: [i]Ford is okay too, I used to own one a few years ago. Ford is better than Chevy, I hate Chevy.[/i]
        then you and Robert would be the only ones to jump down his throat and accuse him of being a Ford astroturfer in a vain effort to defend the Chevy mothership.

        But please don't stop. Your posts are a perfect reflection of who you and Robert are. If you see Tim in the hallway, say hi to him. Tell him that I like my iPhone 4 and I'm really hoping that the iPhone 5 is a bigger improvement than the iPhone 4S was.
        toddbottom3
      • Yeah, a Windows Phone sales pitch

        C'mon, Microsoft has been paying their PR firm, Waggener Edstrom, to conduct 'astroturfing' campaigns in online forums for at least 15 years. The Munchkins receive regular talking-point updates, quite obviously with suggested verbiage. I say 'quite obviously' because it happens frequently that a pack of Munchkins will arrive in a forum using exactly the same turns of phrase, e.g. describing iOS as "a grid of static icons" and The WP interface as "fluid".

        Munchkin packs are just as obvious in manipulating the ratings system. Nothing in all of ZDNet scores anywhere near as high as a known Munchkin delivering a talking-point-laden sales pitch for Microsoft. Those notes get into the teens or twenties. Do you really think that convinces anyone of anything, except that Munchkins are cyber-thugs?

        "I used to have an iPhone but its static grid of icons looked so old, besides it blew up and killed my dawg so I got me a Windows Phone with a fluid interface and now I'm so happy." What, we're supposed to fall for that? The tenth time the same basic thing has been posted? Please stop.
        Robert Hahn
      • Robert: laughable that you think this doesn't happen in reverse

        [i]I say 'quite obviously' because it happens frequently that a pack of Munchkins will arrive in a forum using exactly the same turns of phrase, e.g. describing iOS as "a grid of static icons" and The WP interface as "fluid".[/i]

        Likewise, it happens frequently that a pack of Apple fanbois will arrive in a forum using exactly the same talking points about Windows (registry bad, bit rot, viruses) and Apple (ease of use, innovative, revolutionary, profit, profit margin, marketcap, stock price). This whole Metro attack reeks of Apple astro-turfing.

        [i]so I got me an iPhone and it is so innovative and easy to use and now I'm so happy." What, we're supposed to fall for that? The tenth time the same basic thing has been posted? Please stop.[/i]

        Anyone posting anything about ease of use is a paid Apple astroturfer. See how easy that was?

        In the end though, you can't prove it and I can't prove it. Truth is, I don't really care if you are getting paid by Apple to sound like an id10t. I'll still call you out on it. If you are getting paid by Apple to astroturf in order to accuse Microsoft of paying people to astro-turf, that's fine. Good for you. But you look like an id10t when you accuse someone of astro-turfing in a post where he spent most of his time talking about how great Android is.

        Now, I wonder when scorpioblack, someone who is paid by Apple to have multiple accounts here, will flag and downvote multiple times all posts that aren't Apple lovefests? Or are you going to suggest that this doesn't happen? Please suggest it. I don't get money here, I come here for the laughs and your posts have often been a great source of laughter.
        toddbottom3
      • I remember when you used to make sense

        @Robert Hahn
        now all you do is make the same lame excuse as the rest of the AMBers.

        [i]Munchkin packs are just as obvious in manipulating the ratings system[/i]

        Of course - Munchkin packs! it's clear that if you don't like it, nobody does.
        What ever happened to the trolls of yesteryear - you new ones haven't yet mastered your magic spells, as there was a time you could pass yourself off as human for years. ;)
        William Farrel
      • toddytroll: laughable that you think this doesn't happen in reverse

        I'm right here toddytroll. I've been away at Apple asking for a raise.

        lol... :D

        PS: Flagged you (and sock puppet Wilie) for being the liar(s) that you are.
        ScorpioBlack
      • I don't know if these are astroturf postings but..

        Microsoft is the worst offender in the industry and it wouldn't surprise me at all. Anybody here remember Gene@zunechannel and his cronies who used to mercilessly spam these message boards for months and months before and after the Zune's release. It was the same messages repeated again and again. Zune astroturfing was on every article regardless of topic.
        Tigertank
      • Nonzealot, just google "Microsoft astroturf" and see what pops up..

        Hell, just wiki "astroturf" alone and you will find Microsoft appear in it's [i]examples[/i] section.
        Now google "Apple astroturf" and see what pops up. Mostly stories about how Apple is constantly the victim of astroturfing often from Microsoft.

        See the difference?
        Tigertank
    • Hmm

      I use a Galaxy Note and it fits perfectly in my back pocket without issue.
      slickjim
      • So what happens...

        when you sit down? That doesn't seem like much of a solution.
        kstap
      • Here, have a seat...

        Crunch!!!
        boomchuck1
      • 5" Phones

        I've been using a Dell Streak 5" phone for nearly 2 years. Fits in my front pocket with room to spare. I even had a 2nd phone in the same pocket as the Streak for about 6 months when I had to use two SIM cards.
        Had it in my shorts pocket, my tracksuit pants pocket, my jeans pocket, cargo pants pocket. I haven't really had any front pockets that couldn't take the 5" phone.
        The Dell Streak is also slightly heavier than the Galaxy Note, so if I was able to live with the Streak in my pocket all this time, I'm sure the Galaxy Note is easily accomodated.
        Those who have never used a 5" phone (let alone own one) have no idea what they are missing.
        warboat
    • Mr Munchkin you forgot to mention how fluid

      is the interface; I agree with R. Hann, that pitch "i moved of iphone" is geting oversused, better come with something fresh..
      theo_durcan
    • Biggest screen in a pocket

      I think I speak for quite a large number of people when I say I want the BIGGEST screen that I can fit in a pocket. I want to have it with me EVERYWHERE so I won't feel the need for carrying a tablet at all.
      Devices like the Samsung Note and Dell Streak hits this mark spot on. Using a 3.5" phone after using a 5" phone for nearly 2 years feels super retarded. I also have a Galaxy S2 and even that 4.3" screen is too small to use websites in desktop mode without a lot of zooming and scrolling.
      I also don't care what people think when I hold the huge phone up to my ear. I'm talking on it!
      If you have never used a 5" phone, you have NO IDEA what you are missing. Try it for a week and then try to go back to 3.5" - the compromise hits you hard!
      warboat