iPhone 5 rumored to have a bigger screen? Unlikely

iPhone 5 rumored to have a bigger screen? Unlikely

Summary: If people wanted a smartphone with a jumbo screen, they'd be buying them in preference to the iPhone. They're not.


Rumors are circulating that Apple's next-generation iPhone will see the current 3.5-inch screen replaced with a 4.65-inch, putting it on par with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

I find this move unlikely for a number of reasons.

First, scaling up the current iPhone 4S 960×640 Retina display screen from 3.5-inch to 4.65-inch while keeping the same resolution would mean that the pixels per inch number would fall from 326ppi for the iPhone 4S to something in the region of 250ppi for a 4.65-inch screen.

That would be a huge drop in pixel density. It's unlikely that Apple would bump up the screen resolution to accommodate for the larger screen because this would introduce a whole host of scaling problems for existing apps.

Doubling the resolution of the iPhone's screen to 1920x1280 would make scaling easier. It's what Apple did when it went up to Retina display on both the iPhone and iPad. But it's highly unlikely that Apple could pull this sort of density off for the next incarnation of the iPhone. A screen like that would have a pixel density in the region of 500ppi, which would be incredibly dense.

A bigger screen means a bigger iPhone, and I covered why this is a bad idea in a post last week.

Apple might be able to bump the screen size up a big - say to 3.75-inch or 4-inch in size - and stick with the current resolution, but both would mean a drop in pixel density compared to the iPhone 4S. Having said that, at around 300ppi and 280ppi respectively, the screen would have a higher density than the new iPad.

There's another killer reason why Apple doesn't need to mess with the iPhone's screen in that the device is selling phenomenally well with the current screen size. If people wanted a smartphone with a jumbo screen, they'd be buying them in preference to the iPhone. They're not. There's a valuable lesson contained in that observation.

Why mess with something that sells so well?

Image credit: Apple.


Topics: Hardware, Apple, iPhone, Mobility, Smartphones

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  • More and more archaic, then?

    If Apple doesn't adopt a larger screen for the iPhone, it'll keep looking more and more like it came from the 90s, especially when held against other phones with larger screens - and that's most phones out there.

    Last thing Apple needs is for its fans to start to want other devices, I mean, iPhone sets the standard but keeping a smaller screen would allow all others to eclipse it.
    • Umm

      What standard is that? Most Android phones crossed that bar when Apple released the iPhone 4 and the 4s did very little to correct that.
      • The standard is...

        ...making people say "I want an iPhone."

        But if the iPhone remains tiny compared to Android or other phones, iPhone users will want a non-iPhone phone.

        BTW, I have an Android phone, and it seriously does not make me miss having an iPhone. Apple needs to catch up in some (not all) respects.
  • Where do you get your information from???

    A lot of people are buying larger screen phones as opposed to the iPhone so, I don't know where you get this info.

    Android has more than 50% of the world smartphone market and 90% of the phones sold are 4" or larger... Guess what, that number means they are being bought at a higher rate than the iPhone.

    Honestly though, I think ideal is between 4 and 4.3" for a smartphone as these just seem comfortable all around. 3.5-3.7" become a challenge as you get older and, 4.6-5"+ just seem crazy big for a phone.
    • SGS was just 20 million among about 100 million Samsung's smartphones last

      ... year. Most of smartphones were Galaxy Y-like cheapo devices with screens 2.8-3-3.5".

      As to Apple, they can safely increase the screen to 4" without making device wider -- by increasing only length of the screen. The resulting resolution would be 1132 x 640 and additional space would be reserved for wide-screen video viewing, web browsing, iOS system functionality -- to avoid fragmentation.

      Home button would need to be done narrow and moved to the edge of the enclosure.
      • Bull

        You have nothing to support that claim...
  • "Why mess with something that sells so well?" is hardly the Apple way.

    I don't expect the iPhone to change screen size anytime soon, either, but I don't expect Apple to just "leave it as it is" without any reason. Apple isn't afraid to kill a product or change a core feature just because it's selling well. It may very well be that iPhone (late 2013) incorporates a different screen size, resolution, and/or aspect ratio, but if it does it will be because Apple has a good reason to do so.
    • ADvances in models

      Do a 4.65" screen with the same pixel density as the 4/4S then follow it up the year after with a "retina" display.
      The 5 and 5S.......

      chuckle :D
      • Clueless

        The pixel density of the 4/4s is what makes it a 'retina' display. A larger screen with the same pixel density is just a larger retina display.
  • I will go back

    to iPhone from Android if they introduce a 4.5" screen. Every iPhone owner who sees a 4.5" device says "I wish Apple would make one". They may not give up their iPhone for a bigger screen, but they sure would be happier if Apple made one. 4.5" provides a far superior experience when viewing web content. Consider also the shift in demographics as America ages, presbyopia is a fact of life. "Large print" cell phones will be hot.
    • "Every iPhone owner?"

      Really, every one?

      Please fill us in on the methodology of your survey.
    • They will never do 4.5"

      That is way to big for a phone IMO. I think they will increase the size but not go above 4". Apple doesn't go after the niche community who doesn't mind looking silly holding a large brick to their ear. Leave that to Samsung and others to expirement with 4.5" - 5" phones.
    • I agree

      To think everyone likes the screen size just because they bought it... is delusional thinking. My wife loves her iPhone 4 but tells me all the time that she hates how small her screen is. She would choose a larger model in a heartbeat if one were available.

      And if anyone asks me about the methodology of my conversation with my wife, I will slap them.
  • it will have a bigger screen

    It will have a bigger screen. They already shipped 100 iPhone 4's with screens from edge to edge from china to california for testing. Look it up it was written about 3 months ago with recourses strait from china where they were manufacturing it
  • Can you explain what you mean by this?

    "If people wanted a smartphone with a jumbo screen, they???d be buying them in preference to the iPhone"

    What you are saying then is that everyone who buys an iPhone thinks it is perfect, that there is not one thing they would change. People who bought the iPhone 1 didn't want applications and didn't want 3G.

    Of course not. Just like any other product, consumers weigh the pros and cons of every device before settling on the one that is the least imperfect. People buy a package as a whole and since people cannot choose to buy a 4" iPhone, you can't state as fact that people prefer 3.5" screens.

    In fact, it appears you are actually wrong:
    (ZDNet not letting me post link but search for huffington post smartphone screen survey)

    What this tells us is that people buy the iPhone DESPITE it having a 3.5" screen and not because of it.

    "Why mess with something that sells so well?"

    This I agree with. Since Apple is selling so many iPhones and iPads, they shouldn't make any changes to those devices. Wait. What?
  • Screen size is perfect

    Jobs got it right, it should fit in your hand comfortably. It just fits.
    • Lame thoughtless comment

      It was noted long ago that Apple could put a 4" screen on a phone of the same size.

      That said, go compare it to 4" plus phones and see how the measure up.

      btw: this supposed size OMG it is huge thing is so untrue unless you have those really small Burger King makes my hands look smaller paws,
  • AKH, you're right...

    The next iPhone screen size is not going to change dramatically. Apple just cannot do it for few reasons:
    - They are stuck with a power of two scaling factor to preserve the screen ratio and avoid ugly artifacts when stretching the legacy content.
    - To keep the "retina display" attribute on the screen, they are limited to a very small size increase bracket.
    - Stretching the current screen by a factor of two while increasing the size to something in the 4.3 inches range would be an overkill. The energy requirement to drive such a display would also be prohibitive.

    Fans will have to be more realistic as it won't happen.
  • Apple is always right

    What this article boils down to is another writer saying "Apple is always right".
    I watched my friend operate an iphone 4 the other day and with his big fingers it was quite entertaining. Then there was the need for him to squint at the text on the web site he was viewing.
    Yes, Apple was right in 2007 to have a 3.5inch screen. I remember saying at the time what a big phone. But hey we have all moved on and Apple are usually the first to recognise when the market has shifted. People will now accept a bigger screen and perhaps even demand it.
  • 4 inch phones aren't that big

    Seriously. They're not. I find myself saying "Gah, this screen is tiny" all the time, which makes me wonder how I ever used a 3.5 inch screen. My hands are smaller than an average person's and I don't seem to have a problem manipulating it with one hand. Maybe if you were a child it would be a problem, but I don't see how an adult could have trouble with it. Not to mention there's absolutely nothing wrong with using two hands. I'm rarely in a position where I can't use both hands, and if I am, I'm obviously not doing too much with it at the time. My dad has a 4.5" phone and I will admit, it looks a bit big, but he doesn't seem to have any problems with it. Indeed, he bought it specifically because it was large, as his eyesight's not exactly the best.