Apple's Tim Cook 'rules out' iPhone 5 with 4-inch screen

Apple's Tim Cook 'rules out' iPhone 5 with 4-inch screen

Summary: Apple's chief executive Tim Cook appears to have poured cold water over suggestions the next iPhone will have a larger screen. Strangely, he outright said it. On air. Live.

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TOPICS: iPhone
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Apple's chief executive Tim Cook has apparently ruled out may have hinted that the next-generation iPhone will not have a 4-inch screen.

He reportedly said, according to The Verge, speaking at the D:10 conference (emphasis mine):

"One thing is that we're not fragmented. Look at the percentage of users who upgraded to iOS 5. We have one App Store. We have one phone with one screen size, one resolution. So it's pretty simple if you're a developer."

And that was it.

Considering everything else he said was laced with subjectivity, it certainly came as surprise to me, only minutes after he said Apple would "double down on secrecy".

Interestingly, Cook's comments seem to have gone against Reuters and the Wall Street Journal, who both said the iPhone 5 would get a 4-inch screen "or more".

But this one has quietly irked me for a while.

All iterations of the iPhone has had the same screen size. They've had proportional screen resolutions so applications can scale up and down as per the Retina display in the iPhone 4 and 4S, but ultimately it looks the same. You don't have overhangs and naff looking applications that vary in size and shape across older versions of devices.

It's a one-size-fits-all policy. To use an Apple-ism: "it just works." There's no reason, however, why Apple can't roll out a "Retina-display killer" screen of the same dimensions and aspect ratio, as ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes explains.

"Small tweaks to the screen resolution or aspect ratio could break the way current apps are displayed, requiring developers to rewrite their apps to support the new screen."

I think one of the things people need out of the iPhone going forward --- and the iPad for business productivity --- is consistency. The design can change, the features can be added to and taken away, but screen-size is the killer focus of the device.

Application developers need to be able to keep writing for the same platform year after year, iteration after iteration, without having to return to the drawing board because a company wants to give developers more space to do stuff with.

Image credit: Sarah Tew/CNET.

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136 comments
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  • Screen size

    Screen size - Apple's new backwards compatibility problem.
    Jeff Kibuule
    • Keeping up with Jones' eyes

      They'll need to change the screen size eventually because the size of people's eyes, and the distance between them, keeps increasing.
      Robert Hahn
      • No they don't.

        "They'll need to change the screen size eventually..."-Robert Hahn

        They might. But they don't have to.
        Falkirk
      • It's called a lob

        See that? Not only are the Munchkins vindictive, they're really, really stupid. Sarcasm goes right over their puny little heads.
        Robert Hahn
    • A good "problem" to have

      "Screen size - Apple's new backwards compatibility problem."-dagamer34

      I doubt that Apple, Apple's developers or Apple's customers view a retina iPhone and a retina iPad with compatible resolutions as a "problem".
      Falkirk
      • Not necessarily true

        I know some people care about screen size. Plenty of people refuse to touch a phone with a screen under 4". Potentially that's a lost current iPhone user that was hopeful the screen would finally grow or missing out on a potential customer.

        Here's the funny problem that they really have- they have to make sure everything scales correctly, otherwise Apple would literally break their main advantage: biggest app market. What do you call an iPhone with no apps? In my opinion, that would be worse because I doubt developers will spend the money to optimize for two different screen sizes for the same device (as in potentially an iPhone-3.5, iPhone-3.5+, and iPad).

        Everything has an Achilles heel.
        ikissfutebol
      • Not such a good problem

        I love the iPhone's 3.5" retina display, but my husband has to wear reading glasses to surf the web, etc. with it. He plans to go with Samsung's 5" (unfortunately lower resolution) display which he can use glasses-free.

        He'd rather own an Apple product complete with the iTunes app store, but since he can't easily read the smaller display, and he can't fit an iPad in his pocket, Samsung wins.
        ancillaDomini
      • Not true at all

        They lost me as a customer as I want a 4"+ screen and LTE.
        I dumped them at the 4S and if true with the "5" they will permanently lose me as an iPhone customer.

        My iPhone 4 is currently my backup phone. My next phone will make my Skyrocket my backup.
        rhonin
      • If larger screen size is so all-important...

        ... then feel quite free to choose anything else on the market. It just won't be running on iOS. Personally, if something so minor is a deal-killer for someone, then that someone needs to get a life. I take my glasses OFF to read on my iPhone and I use a very, very tiny text. Ok, so it makes me look stupid (or incredibly near-sighted (which I am)) but I have no problems using it and it really helps me to keep others from trying to read over my shoulder.
        4" wide-screen? Simply looks ridiculous.
        5" standard aspect? Too bloomin' big for comfort.
        iPhone? I've used 'em since the 3G model and been quite happy.
        Vulpinemac
        • The iFool example

          Anybody that considers screen size to not be important is clearly an idiot. I guess that it would be ok with you if your precious crap phone burst into flame because hey, ios.
          beau parisi
      • Iphone fans

        could only be iphone fans if they never used anything else.
        They simply don't know and don't want to know any better.
        warboat
      • Screen size....

        To be honest, I can't stand vulpine and rhonin's constant support of their favorite platforms and trashing the other one. Personally I prefer Android as a tablet platform but for this screen size issue, I think there is no need for Apple to enlarge it. Besides Tim Cook's stated reasons:

        1. Hey I'm a male. I don't carry a handbag with me. I hate to put it in a holster which gives you fits when you sit. It *has* to fit in my jeans pocket where it competes for space with a wallet and quite a number of keys, not to mention a packet of pocket tissues.

        2. Really if you have to read that much stuff from your phone, you're choosing the wrong device. That's something you use a TABLET for.

        2.
        CyberGuerilla
      • Competition is good

        If Apple does not produce iPhone with screen larger than 3.5" and you demand at least 4" "phone" screen, then by all means go buy that other stuff.
        This is why there is competition, different makers of different devices. There is something for everybody. Just don't insist that Apple (or whoever) bends over to your own wishes of the day.

        Having said this, I am perfectly ok with my iPhone 4S's screen size. I actually wish it was slimmer, like the Nokia E51 it replaced, but realize that one had much smaller screen anyway :)

        About reading. Most of the time I can read on the iPhone ok, if I can't see enough details, then I would use (in order of their decreasing mobility): the new iPad at 10", my Macbook Air 13", my 20" or 30" desktop. Needless to say, if I am on the road and need just quick glance, I won't care less if the iPhone had 3.5", 4" or 5" display!
        danbi
      • Well, I do.

        I'm sick of half baked iPhone apps that don't scale to my iPad. I don't have or want an iPhone. But when I look at some apps, I have only part of the screen. I don't see the iPhone and the iPad having "compatible" resolutions at all.
        notinkeys
      • @warbot

        Or iPhone fans could be iPhone fans, simply because they've used other phones and felt that something is lacking in the interface and how it performs. Even the fastest Tegra-based phones feel somewhat clunky compared to the older iPhone 4 from time to time.

        I personally feel to each his or her own. People try stuff out, figure out what they like and don't like, and buy accordingly to their needs.
        Champ_Kind
  • Screen Size

    I like the current screen size. I'd be happy with a 4.0 inch as well. Anything bigger I don't think I'd like. Those huge android phones with the ginormous screens seem silly to me, for a phone.
    bkohler
    • preference

      My last phone had a 3.5 inch screen. Couldn't read the words anymore and swiping the screen left and right got old fast. Current phone is 4.5 inch. After using it 6 months when I look at my old phone it looks like a toy that I can't take seriously anymore. I wonder how I was ever able to squint my eyes to read those tiny letters now. Its all about getting used to the display. Once you get used to it all else will seem like a itty bitty woman's phone.
      rengek
      • That's resolution ... not display size

        You're talking about the resolution - pixels per inch (or even characters per inch), not the physical size of the display. You have a larger physical screen, but lower resolution, so everything on the screen looks bigger. Apple's way of doing it (as they've done countless times with displays over the years) is to increase resolution in the same physical size. That's the point behind the Retina displays -- resolution that's so high that your eyes literally don't perceive the individual pixels (at normal viewing distances). But items on the screen often get smaller, as a result.

        Fwiw, Steve Jobs had commented years ago that Apple did extensive research to identify an "optimal" screen size -- which turned out to be 3.5 inches -- for most users. That was what its research indicated provided the best balance between viewing, usefulness (for touch), portability, battery life, etc. Is it ideal for everyone? Of course not. But several hundred million customers don't seem to be complaining too much.

        Fwiw, I do agree with whomever mentioned that programming shouldn't be done to fixed dimensions, though, when percentages would seemingly allow infinite flexibility for different display sizes and even different resolutions.
        imalugnut
        • Rubbish

          I can't believe the rubbish you are talking about larger screens. The competition, for instance the Samsung Galaxy S3, has both vastly larger screens and an HD resolution.

          The Samsung's screen stats are 1280×720 pixels at 306 ppi versus the iPhone 4S' 640×960 resolution at 326 ppi.

          From a foot away the human eye cannot resolve those 20 extra pixels per inch in the Apple device. It is just too little.

          This is the case with all of the other flagship models out there. The HTC 1 X, the Galaxy S3, the Nexus and the Panasonic Eluga Power all have 720p HD displays.

          So your argument that the competition have low resultion displays is dated. Very dated.
          Johann Fourie
      • @imalugnut

        The increased resolution on an iPhone on 3.5 inches actually makes it MORE difficult to read than a lower resolution phone with a bigger screen.

        pixel density is one aspect, I agree, but screen size is also important.
        Bozzer