The Possibility Of A 4″ iPhone Potentially Lies In The Height

It’s April, and we’re at a month since the new iPad was released, and at least a few months away from the next iPhone, which leaves a little lull in Apple news. There’s always app news, but it seems Apple news is the biggest attention drawing subject. The next iPhone is probably slated for October like the 4S, but could make an appearance in June at WWDC like the 3G, 3GS, and 4, but either way it leaves us plenty of time for speculation. What does that leave us in April, well rumors of course.

The hottest topic related to the next iPhone is screen size, and the possibility of a 4” screen. The questions revolve around how Apple would accomplish the screen size without effecting aspect ratio, pixel density, and overall size of the device. Apple doesn’t want to effect developers too much by adding another format to design for, and “Modilwar” has posted an interesting idea on The Verge forums.

Last week, while watching the Vergecast episode 24, came the Eureka moment. A caller named Colin (apologies if I got your name wrong) mentioned how he thought apple could increase the iPhone screen size without effecting the external form factor or pixel density…

Colin’s idea was to keep the shorter side of the iPhones screen the same, i.e. 640 pixels at 1.94 inches. With that in mind how much would the longer side need to increase so the that diagonal measurement was 4 inches. The answer, derived using simple algebraic rearrangement of Pythagorus’s theorem, 1152 pixels and 3.49 inches. That leaves the the diagonal length measuring a little over 3.99 inches, I’m sure Apple PR could round this 4.

For those of you who are good with numbers I’m sure you’ve noted that 1152?×?640 has an aspect ratio of 9:5 and the 1152 pixels is and increase of 192 from 960 and that’s 20% more than on the iPhone 4 and 4S.”

When you look at the current iPhone you can see that there’s room for the bezel to be reduced to accommodate a larger screen while maintaining the same overall size. Apple could create more of an edge to edge screen, but the real question is what’s displayed on that screen. The Verge post includes mock-ups of stock apps to show how the additional pixels at the top of the screen could be utilized. The extra space would allow for a fifth row of icons on the home screen, more items shown in a list, more tiles shown in maps, and longer web pages being display at once, etc. Even some third party apps with fixed elements at the top and bottom could take advantage as seen with Twitter and Facebook.

These could all offer relatively easy changes, but the dilemma would come in third party apps with fixed UIs, like in games. The post suggests grey bars on the top and bottom until developers tweak their apps, which is the only downside presented. Videos would obviously benefit as well with a 9:5 aspect ratio much closer to 16:9 of HD video. It’s also interesting to note that Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, who’s on and off with inside info, chimed in with the following while citing the above information,

Methinks ‘Colin’ wasn’t merely guessing or idly speculating.”

This seems like a really good start, but knowing Apple, if they do make a change it won’t have any compromises whatsoever. An edge to edge screen iPhone though seems like what we’ve all been waiting for, and the next evolutionary step.

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