The new iPhone won't have a gigantic screen

The new iPhone won't have a gigantic screen

Despite the latest rounds of super-gigantic iPhone screen size rumors, iMore is hearing that, as of last month, plans for the new iPhone (iPhone 5,1) called for the same 3.5-inch screen as previous generations. While we're told that isn't set in stone, and it's possible Apple could go slightly bigger, there's doesn't seem to be any chance for anything even approaching the size of a Galaxy Nexus.

Not only does that come from a good source, but it stands to reason. First, Apple has put a tremendous amount of time, energy, and marketing into the concept of a Retina display. With a Retina display, density can get lower as distance increases -- that's why the new iPad's 2048x1536 Retina display at 264 ppi doesn't need to be as dense as the iPhone 4S' 960x640 Retina display at 326 ppi. -- but Apple probably wouldn't push a 960x480 display to 4.65-inches and settle for 248.12 ppi.

They probably wouldn't bump up the resolution either, because it would break compatibility with existing software. That's something they deliberately avoided in the past by exactly pixel doubling the older screen resolutions to get to the Retina display, rather than going with an arbitrary size or standard resolution like 720p.

Apple has also paid attention to one-handed ease of use, keeping every inch of the iPhone screen easily accessible -- if held in one hand, most people's thumb can still reach the opposite corner without much difficulty.

Surveys have suggested users would appreciate a larger screen on the iPhone, and perhaps Apple would consider something up to 4-inches. At 960x640, a 4-inch screen would be 288 ppi. A 3.75-inch screen would be 307 ppi. Both are lower than the iPhone 4S but still higher than the new iPad, but they'd let Apple maintain the current resolution and much of the one-handed ease of use.

Nothing bigger than that seems likely, however. Apple also has a way of disregarding market research. The late Steve Jobs liked to quote Henry Ford: "If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse."

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

The new iPhone won't have a gigantic screen


You just made that up. You don't have insiders or tipsters in Apple. Not fooling anyone with the linkbait.

They are pretty much up front with the fact that the only info they have from a source is that a smaller screen is unlikely. The rest is the writer's opinion based on historic precedent, what do you have a problem with?

Do you even know what linkbait is, idiot? iMore has been right about many different things. Including the iPad 3 announcement.

Hmm... I would suggest you research the definition of linkbait before trying to use it in a sentence again.
Issuing an opinion is not linkbait. Neither is informing our readers of what we've heard from sources we've found to be reliable in the past.
Are they always right? Of course not. But we're entitled to our opinion just as Reuters and every other site out there is.

Maybe read the article again before insulting. Rene is entitled to his opinion as is everyone else on any other blog. After following the iPhone blog..sorry imore for four plus years I must say they have a pretty good track record as far as their opinions go. If you want an example of linkbait go to BGR.

I would recommend reading the article again David, what Rene is giving is his opinion on the old rumor mill about screen size. Rene has never been known to throw rumors out for the hell of it. He is very calculating about these items and is rarely ever wrong. IF Rene says will see a 3.75 or 4 my money is on him, he might want bigger, but he knows how Apple behaves.

We had a highly reliable source tell us the next iPhone wasn't anywhere near that big. We reported it, then ran the logic. :)

I have a SGS-2 and I am desperately hoping that they atleast match to my current phone screen size 4.3 inches So I am desperately hoping and waiting for the iPhone 5 to launch with this features so that I can buy it. It was only for the smaller screen size that I did not go for the 4 &4's

It's certainly worth the upgrade to the iPhone 4, the retina display is the single greatest hardware bump an iPhone has ever gotten (except maybe the 3G radio). I didn't get the 4s because I didn't need the speed as I don't play a lot of games and I would only get limited use out of Siri since I almost never drive.

I have the SGSII as my second phone, and hands down the iPhone screen, keyboard and responsiveness beats it. My cousin wanted to get it because of the large screen, when he used my 3 keyboards on the SGSII he said how can it be so crappy. I said it's a Samsung.... Which is weird cause they have great TVs...

I'd like to see it bump to between 4" and 4.3". I love the pixel density of the iPhone 4 and 4s but would be willing to take a slight resolution hit for a larger screen. 3.5" blew people away in 2007 but 4" or slightly larger seems to be the smartphone sweet spot in my experience.

So, I guess you're not buying the latest news story
from Reuters saying, " iPhone will have a sharper and bigger 4.6-inch "retina" display and is set to be launched around the second quarter..."

No, we were told by a source that's been incredibly reliable in the past that the next iPhone won't have a screen anywhere near that big.

Thanks for the inside scoop. I hope this time your source is wrong .. as i would love to see a bigger screen on the iPhone.

I don't care what size they make. I just want it to be soon because my daughter cracked my 4 screen today and I would rather have a cracked screen then get an iPhone 4s at this point.

Never let a child play with a phone a cracked screen will be the result. Everyone I know who lets their kid play with their phone has this result. That's never going to happen to me.
I hope you're wrong Rene. A 5" screen iPhone would rock and eat Android's lunch.

I'm not sure what survey you guys used to calculate that iPhone users prefer a bigger screen size but I actually like the current size of the phone and so does all of my friends who own one. Personally, I like the fact that its compact and slim enough to fit just about in any of my pockets and it doesn't look like a mini tablet or phablet lol. The only thing I'd like for them to change would be the design meaning lets go all aluminium like the MacBooks jk lol but something along those lines.

I actually would prefer a larger screen. Would not want it to be 4.5 inches, but 4 would be nice. A bigger screen size would be the only compelling feature I would upgrade to the next iPhone. If they don't increase the screen size, Apple must do something amazing or risk losing market share to Android. A thinner model with a better camera is not going to cut it.

Agreed. I don't doubt Rene but I do hope things change. I love my iPhone but my big fingers need more real estate to type on. Plus, I'm getting blind in my old age. I will not go back to Android but i hear many of my friends grumbling. Cmon Apple, give us at least a 4 inch screen!

Guess I'll be getting the HTC One X then. I was hoping Apple would get with the program and put out a decent sized screen. I like the iPhone's stability, but the screen is too small for me.

However, if the Reuters report is true, and they go to a 4.6 inch screen, the iPhone 5 (new iPhone, whatever they will call it) will be my next phone.

Hell yeah, they really need to up their game. They hardly sell any these days. Oh, except the 37 million last Qtr. Still, up your game Apple. Dave says so.

Dave you know what I find funny is that people never had a problem with the screen until Android started release phablets, now people want one. I prefer a phone that fits in my pocket, wouldn't mind a 4" screen but don't want to sacrifice pocket carry. I saw people with the Note, it was just stupid, she though she was so cool, and look like an idiot people where laughing at her, one guy said go back to the 80s...

I have the Galaxy Note too (and an iPhone4 as a second phone and iPad2).
I don't think it's stupid. It's a freaking awesome device actually. I rarely touch my iPad now except when I want to play Infinity Blade 2.

Nobody had any problem with horses too until the car came out. Nobody had problems with manual typewriters until the electrics came out. Nobody had problems with whole loaves of bread until someone figured out how to sell.....wait for it.....sliced bread.

I have been a die-hard iPhone fan since the first one. But this news (if true) along with AT&T throttling my unlimited data plan might push me to the droid.

No, but if you must cope with a throttled phone, you may as well have the screen size you want..
I happen to like the ip4 screen myself, but if i didn't i would change brands as well..

I personally don't see Apple going anywhere near the 4.3, 4.6 maybe 4.0 Apple is going to do there best to keep the retina display or stay as close as possible. Also I like the ease of one handed use especially seeing that I came from a Evo 3D and Epic 4GT. But I can say that If they stick with the current display size a lot of people will be upset but honestly how many people will give up there iPhones because of that? I would love to see higher specs and bigger screen personally.

My Galaxy Nexus can be used with one hand. I love the 4.65 inch screen too. Youtube HD videos are jaw dropping, crisp and look amazing on this screen.

I would be blown away if they doubled again, even in a larger display, but doubling would not be 1920x960, it would be 1920x1280, basically a 1080p screen, albeit with a 4:3 ratio rather than 16:9

3:2, not 4:3. iPhone has a wider (or taller) display than the iPad (which is indeed 4:3). iPhone has the same aspect ratio of 35mm film frames, while iPad has the aspect ratio of classic movies and standard definition TV.

sempre pi interessante, srmaipeo che continuino a lavorarci sopra ancora un bel po'. oltretutto la grafica sembra anche migliorata rispetto le vecchie immagini.Anche the conduit ci stanno lavorando molto sodo sopra, e si vede anche dal fatto che la grafica in generale migliora sempre pi .se tanto mi da tanto, dovrebbe essere un capolavoro all'uscita.Anche perch scordatevi di avere un nuovo zelda da qui ad altri 2 anni.

WOW... you guys can't wait to shred Rene, can you? He never once said the word "insider" or "tipster" or "inside information". And with iMore being and iDevice fan site, you have to expect that there is some level of propaganda throughout the site, this is LARGELY due to the fact that NOTHING is true until Tim Cook holds it up on stage (or employees leave it in a bar, lol). Rene merely said "we're hearing" and "we're told" and "good source." You DO know that that could be ANYTHING from a local Cupertino newspaper to Tim Cook, himself, and EVERYTHING in between. It could have come from ANYWHERE. Give it a rest, guys. As soon as I read the 4.65" screen rumors, I immediately threw the BS flag, too. As most of Rene's arguments pointed out: it is not Apple's style, nor is it their history to do something like that (save for occasionally, drastically changing their minds at the last second). Calm down.

Apple has hardly spent any time justifying the name Retina. Apple fans have been desperately producing all sorts of exotic math to justify the name for the new iPad, since it is below 300 dpi. Apple hardly said a word about it.
I dont think Apple really cares, and at this point Retina just means really good, and it would not matter if the display was 3.75 or 4".

My prediction - a 1024x768 resolution on a 4 inch screen. This would net you 320 ppi and wouldn't really be an issue with scaling as its iPad 1 & 2 resolution.

There is so much wasted empty space on the front of the iPhone. They could increase screen size without having to increase device size.

This article isn't even based on opinion. It's based purely on the fact that all of the constant Fanboi defense of the current very small screen is about to look VERY, VERY Stupid in just a few short months and all of the dudes with the tiny hands will only have their beers to cry into.

Perhaps you missed the part where it isn't just dudes who use iPhones, but women as well. You know, ~51% of the population of Earth? Perhaps you've even met one. They tend to have smaller hands than men.
Apple's marketing strategy has a far wider scope than perhaps you're aware.

It always amuses me when people use words like "desperate" when writing about future iPhone technology. "Desperate" is when you can't feed your family, or you are homeless, or have a terminal illness. Sheesh, people...get some perspective.

I call BS on that Reuters article, 'cos I find it highly unlikely that Apple would ever make a 4.6" screen on an iPhone. It'd be nice if they did, but I'm not counting on it. But 4" is much more plausible. I agree (with several comments above) that a 4" screen is the sweet spot and should fit most people's hands just fine, as long as they keep the overall dimensions of the phone more or less the same. I sure hope they do bring it up to 4" as that would be enough of a screen size bump to justify the upgrade for me. But if they still keep it at 3.5", then I'll have to leave iOS and go with a Nokia Lumia 900.

Agree. Apple should make screen size an option. But if they don't I'll be on the Nokia Lumia 900 bandwagon. Lumia already looks like a better phone.

I would hate having a 4.5" screen. I would be happy with 4" but going much larger than that is a bit much in my humble opinion

I think they are going to make it smaller like the iPod nano, you will just hook it to your ear and use Siri to give it commands.

Why not keep the width as is, but add pixels to the next phone's display to move it from it's current 1.5:1 aspect ratio closer to a 1.77:1 (16x9) aspect ratio? Say 1138x640?
There is plenty of room in the current phone's bezel to expand the screen in this manner, and you would be left with a phone which is dramatically better to watch video content on.
All existing apps could still be displayed in their native 960x640 pixel area (letterboxed like SD content on an HD display) with no loss of fidelity.
The extra pixels could then be used for Notification Center notifications that don't intrude on the app's head space, a multitasking bar that doesn't reposition the active app (cutting off its uppermost contents), or iAds that don't intrude on the available UI space of ad-supported apps.

That's a really interesting idea. I like it... Tho I would like to see the width increase just a bit (in portrait mode), to make one-handed typing easier for those of us with big fingers & thumbs. If every app supported landscape mode this wouldn't be as much of an issue, but as it is, some apps are still portrait mode only, and that's annoying.

Whats the odds that they will have two different sized phones? Keep a new 3.5 and a new 4.5! Give people some options to choose.

No matter what, apple will not introduce a resolution that isn't an exact multiple of the current lineup. If it kept the same resolution and increased the screen size, the pixel density wouldn't be "retina.". Any screen size change would be a difficult thing to manage using the developers tools. It's a safe bet that there will be no screen size change and certainly no resolution change.

Typo in the first paragraph " there's doesn't seem", i might be wrong though, english isn't my first language.

It's not the perfect size for everybody, tho. Many of us really would like a reasonably larger screen. Not a huge phone; certainly not a "tabphone" like the Galaxy Note; just a reasonable increase up to 4" would suffice.

"Everybody" doesn't matter. The majority does. Until someone create some magical technology that can change the physical size of a cellphone, everybody will never be pleased.

I know. There is no one size that will fit all. But I'm pretty confident that an iPhone with a 4" retina screen would be welcomed by the majority, especially if the overall size of the phone remains more or less the same.

"Apple has also paid attention to one-handed ease of use"
...except for the whole punch to zoom bit, huh? Yeah, that bit's important when you're trying to navigate while driving & trying to zoom in. I think the retina thing is pretty but I like landscape more. Go big or go home.

Bigger screen = bigger keys on the keyboard. God, I wish that had been planned but it wasn't. I'd have been clever. Now, I'm just another victim of FFS (Fat Finger Syndrome)

If this ends up being fact I truly believe it will be a huge mistake (yes I realize they will still sell millions). Having owned every iPhone up through the 3GS I jumped ship this year and now have an HTC Rezound. IMHO the 4.3in screen is the perfect size, not too big and the larger size is something you'll love. I loved my iPhones and I'm open minded enough to never rule out going back. But, not with that sceen size...

I hear many people saying they would like a 7 inch IPad. I hear people ask for a bigger screen for iPhone. What I think that some "i" company (Apple or after market) needs to give us a 6 or 7 inch tablet screen with a dock for me to plug in my iPhone so I have a bigger screen with having to buy a iPad too.

No one BUT Apple knows for sure... All I know is I'm sick of people acting like their opinions and preferences are "fact" - or the only views that make sense. Let's just wait and see...
To ME, I don't think Apple can match that "perfect storm" of success they had with the 4S if they release another indistinguishable version of their iPhone. I also don't see Apple ever making hardware/form factor changes, just for the sake of doing so. As such, I see a slimmer phone, same width/height, with a larger screen... maybe 4in. And hopefully some creative, seamless LED notification system. I'm pretty confident that Apple's tech teams and design teams can make all of that (and more) a reality. Coupled with an obligatory spec bump, that would be good for me. Most of the updates I'm hoping for have more to do with software anyway - I'm a bit bored with iOS. I'm really hoping iOS 6 is completely new, while maintaining that "intuitive" DNA.

Well said. I'm tired of hearing people say that the current 3.5" screen size is "perfect" just because they say it is, like their opinion is the only one that matters. It's simply a matter of personal preference and there is no perfect screen size for everyone (tho I think 4" comes pretty close). That obligatory spec bump plus a 4" screen would seal the deal for me. If the 4S would've had a bigger screen, I would've gotten one a long time ago. But I decided to skip it and wait for this year's model, to see if Apple decide to give it at least a 4" screen. If not, then it's Nokia Lumia 900 time for me.

You're right -- but the majority probably likes the size it is now, which is probably why Apple has not jumped the gun on it yet. If people want a larger screen, get an iPad. I know business people (a growing base of users) could probably care less about the extra half inch of screen-space to shoot birds out of slingshots or catch up on the latest episode of Jersey Shore.

Well, to be fair, the "majority" don't have a choice as to what screen size they get with iOS. As it stands now, if you want iOS, it's either this little 3.5" screen or an iPad. And some of us (like me) don't want or need an iPad. I'd venture to bet that if Apple were to make a 4" iPhone, it would sell even more. The reason I went with iOS had little to do with the screen size; I actually sacrificed a bit of screen real estate coming from a Samsung Vibrant with a 4" screen. While I loved that AMOLED screen, I just had way too many issues with that phone. And I didn't want to have to keep hacking my phone just to get timely software updates. I don't know if it was due to Samsung (getting Samsunged) or just the whole Android OS. I didn't really care, either; I just wanted a reliable phone that worked and didn't randomly reset itself. And T-Mo USA had nothing else I wanted. So I switched to AT&T and gave the iPhone 4 a try. The smaller screen size is a little annoying (I still miss my 4" screen, text reflow, and Swype keyboard), but I've been tolerating it as the retina display resolution is so nice and rest of the iPhone has been pretty rock-solid and reliable. And I like how it syncs so nicely with my Mac. But... it's time for a bigger screen. I'm tired of squinting and struggling to type with this cramped keyboard (big hands make it a challenge). And I think a lot of business people (read: older users like me) would find it easier to read and type on a slightly larger screen too. Just because the iPhone sells so well, it doesn't mean that the majority wouldn't like a bigger screen, given the choice. But I guess we'll never really know what the majority would prefer until Apple finally does release a bigger-screened iPhone (if ever), and then we could see how well it does in the smartphone market.

I'm a huge apple fan... But no bigger screen... I have to switch phones, something I dread. I'm sick of the little screen... I hope you are wrong Rene.

Steve Jobs in his authorized biography addressed the increasing size of Android phones. He said the iPhone would not get larger because of screens larger than 4 inches would not permit easy use with one hand. From a design perspective, he didn't seem to believe customers wanted to fumble with two hands.

Interesting point. I can see how a huge phone would be awkward for some people using it with one hand. I tried it with the Galaxy Note and just couldn't do it (despite having big hands). The Galaxy Nexus felt fine, tho.
Yet regarding a design perspective, I see people using various phones (including iPhones) with both hands all the time, especially typing with their thumbs in landscape mode, as I tend to, or while watching a video or playing some game. So there's a case that can be made for both uses.
I also think it's interesting how Steve mentioned 4" as a practical limit on single-handed usability, while all along in this thread many of us are saying things like, "Just bring it up to 4" " and "4" is the sweet spot." Maybe Steve was on to something there.

There's another dimension (pardon the pun) to consider here as well: The next iPhone might also be thicker due to the addition of an LTE antenna, similarly to the new iPad. Then we might be dealing with an iPhone that's slightly bigger overall, which would likely require a significant redesign and could strengthen the case for a 4" screen. But who knows; a lot can happen from now until October or whenever they release it.

It might be thicker -- but Motorola did just outmaneuver everyone with the Droid RAZR. If Motorola can do it, surely Apple can.

Yes... I've played with a Droid RAZR Maxx at a VZW store, and was impressed by how thin and light they made it, the battery life, and the overall solid, high-quality feel of it. It's actually thinner than my iPhone 4, except for that bit at the top where it's thicker due to the camera. And it has a 4.3" screen, which I found very finger-friendly (even with one hand). If it were GSM, unlocked, and had ICS (Android 4.0) on it, I might have gotten one right then and there. But then I discovered WP7 and the Nokia Lumia 900, and now am waiting for it so I can try it out.

I actually prefer the 3.5" size. If they do go bigger, I don't want my UI elements to be stretched out. They should remain the same physical size (as in millimeters), only spaced out. As you can imagine this will cause a minor redesign on all apps.

"Apple also has a way of disregarding market research."
Not a fan of this statement. Their astronomical sales definitely say otherwise.

I'm not getting it then. I want a bigger size and higher resolution. I will jump ship to android if apple doesn't fix anything for three years straight.

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if a iphone came out with a larger screen it would be the greatest thing since sliced bread

They should make it a option. Make one with a bigger screen for the people who want that and make one with the same size screen for people who like it the same.

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