So far we have seen a lot of rumors, arguments for and against an iPhone with a larger screen. Back in 2007 when the first iPhone was introduced, Steve Jobs remarked that is a full touchscreen with a giant screen. Back then, it sure was and that too with an awesome capacitive touch-screen. Fast forward to 2012, the iPhone rules the smartphone industry and the 5th generation of the god phone is on sale.
Will Apple change the one spec that has always been static, a 3.5″ full touch-screen?
Apple’s competitors are selling every variety ranging from a 3″ to 5.2″ and given the sales of Galaxy Note, there sure is a demand for a larger screen in the market. Apple supporters have argued that reaching the entire screen (all corners) with the thumb is difficult on a large touchscreen and while that’s true, there are more reasons for Apple to stay focussed on a 3.5″ display.
a) Economies of scale:
Apple manufacturers just one new model every year and gets crazy demand for the same. Maintaining a common display for the 1st gen, 3G and 3GS helped them align their LCD supplies, same for the Retina Display on 4 and 4S. Imagine, Apple a single company, manufacturing hardware is pitched again Android, WP etc which has multiple manufacturers and OEM’s with hundreds of hardware designs. For Apple to full-fill the demand, they need to use the economies of scale and a very simple thing is to keep the same screen size.
b) Developers, Retina and Apps
When Apple launched the iPhone 4 or the new iPad recently, they doubled the resolution on the same display size as the predecessor and made it easy for developers to port their apps. In fact most apps worked fine without any changes and that was the magic of doubling the resolution and not increasing it by any other ratio. At the same time, with double the resolution, Apple reached the PPI level that it defines as Retina Display.
Now if they tamper the display size say from 3.5″ to 4″ and keep the resolution at 960X640, the PPI would drop below the Retina Display threshold. And if Apple wants to increase the resolution again, going by previous track record, it would need to double again, which would mean 1920X1280. Not completely impossible on a 4″ display, but that would be ridiculously high. Just for records in that case the PPI would be 576. Even on the 4.3″ display, that is 536 PPI.
That looks difficult!
Another angle could be going 1280×720. On a 4″ screen that translates to a PPI of 367, which is more than what the iPhone 4 / 4S has, but looks much more doable. Apple might have some hooks to get apps on 1280×720 working, but the question on why would they do it remains. Samsung has the Galaxy SIII which is already delivering 1280×720 and Apple isn’t known to follow the competition with such specs, they might well aim for 1920X1280.
Sooner or later Apple has to jump to a resolution of 1920X1280, would that be with the 6th gen iPad? That is debatable. We usually like to take sides, but this is a difficult bet. Given the intensifying competition in the smartphone world, we would expect Apple to make a big move with the iPhone 6 / HD or whatever it is eventually called.