Apple rumored to increase iPhone screen size to 4-inches

Apple looks set to increase the next generation iPhone’s screen size to at least 4-inches according to information coming from people familiar with the situation. According to the sources, Apple has already placed orders for the larger screens from its Asian suppliers and they are bigger than the screens used on the current iPhone.

Production is set to begin next month for the screens, which measure at least 4 inches diagonally compared with 3.5 inches on the iPhone 4S, the latest phone from Apple, the people said.

The rumor states Apple has ordered the larger screens from multiple suppliers, LG, Sharp and Japan Display Inc. Production of the next iPhone is scheduled to start in June with it becoming available at a similar time to last year; sometime in October. We have already heard that Apple is slowing down production of the iPhone 4S in anticipation of the new model iPhone.

The latest rumor does line up with what we heard at the end of last week, namely that if the screen does indeed increase, it would be to a maximum of 4-inches but no larger. We heard Apple hadn't yet decided on a final design, but given both The Wall Street Journal and Reuters are reporting the 4-inch screen size today, that decision could now have been made.

If accurate, several questions remain. Will Apple reduce the size of the current iPhone bezel to allow for a bigger screen, or increase the size of the phone itself, or a bit of both? There's also nothing in these rumors that suggest an aspect ratio change from the current 2:3 to something closer to 16:9, which some other rumors have suggested. That kind of change would be far more problematic for developers than a simple increase in scale.

It would, however, reduce the density of what Apple's has marketed at the Retina display from 326 ppi of the current iPhone 4S and iPhone 4, down to 288 ppi, which is only slightly better than the new iPad's 264. Not only would buttons and other touch targets be physically bigger, its possible the pixels would once again be visible as well.

The alternative, to increase the amount of pixels, would force old apps to be letterboxed (like iPhone apps are on the iPad), and open the door for the creation of "bigger" apps that wouldn't really work on older iPhones. That's a level of fragmentation Apple hasn't been willing to allow thus far.

Until more information surfaces, or until Phil Schiller holds one up on an Apple event stage, we'll simply have to wait and see.

What's you preference?

Source: WSJ, Reuters


UK editor at iMore, mobile technology lover and air conditioning design engineer.

  • I think I could live with 288 ppi.
  • I couldn't. I'd just keep my iPhone 4 and wait for something better. Besides, I seriously doubt that Apple would ever downgrade the screen resolution for any reason. They'd most likely either keep the current 3.5" screen or figure out a way to increase the screen size without sacrificing pixel density, even if it means delaying the release of the phone.
  • Why? They sacrificed thinness on the iPad - probably out of necessity.
  • Because making the device just a hair thicker doesn't affect the overall user experience the way changing the pixel density would. The difference in thickness between the iPad 2 and the "new iPad" is negligible (I really couldn't tell the difference), but a decrease in pixel density would be a lot more noticeable. Especially if it were noticeable enough to create an impression (justified or not) that Apple were somehow cutting corners on their displays. Apple likes to put a lot of emphasis on the user experience, so that's why I don't see that happening.
  • Honestly, I'm happy with the size screen we have now & would rather the expected boost in performance than a larger scree.
  • I want a bigger screen, even if there is a hit to the ppi.
  • Would accept a bigger screen as high as 4 no bigger
    Would not want to be able to see pixels. At any cost.
  • If you don't wanna see any pixels then you need to have a very very very old cellphone :lol: :twisted:
  • It is time for Apple to increase the screen size. Hopefully, OS6 will offer new functionality with some kind of widget set up, the need for a bigger battery will also be necessary. Bigger battery, bigger phone, bigger screen.
    By today's standards, the Iphone is tiny.
  • By today's standards, 4 inches is still tiny. And 2:3 is outdated.
    Bottom line is unless there's something really special in iOS 6, it's not enough.
  • 4in is plenty for the millions upon millions of NORMAL iPhone users. Hell -- those same millions are probably more than satisfied with the size it is now.
  • I want a bigger screen as well. 3.5" was fine in 2007, but it's 2012 now. With that said, I'll still get the 6th gen iPhone even if it retained the 3.5" screen. But 4" sure would be great.
  • What does the year have to do with anything, by that logic in 10 years time you'll want a phone the size of a tablet ye? I swear some people don't have the brains they were born with.
  • It has to do with the fact that specifications that were perfectly ideal at the time of a product's release may not be ideal in the following years. Phones have become the primary media consumption devices for many people, and the extra screen real estate would make it an even better experience. The way people use their devices change over time. That is what that means. Are ad hominem attacks really necessary?
  • I remember when phone's were getting smaller. I don't understand why people want bigger screens. It's plenty big as it is. If you want a bigger screen, get an android phone, or an iPad. But, oh well, Apple will do whatever the market is demanding.
  • Phones were getting smaller until they began to be capable media consumption devices. People want the extra screen real estate for watching videos and browsing. And we want to do this with our phones without having to bring another device with us.
  • ^ This.
  • Apple has spent the last few years marketing the magic of having a retina screen. It'd be a nightmare for them to suddenly release a nonretina iphone. No matter how they spin it, it'd mean a lesser quality screen. Not good considering the competition has already leaped past them in terms of screen quality.
    IMO, double the res if increasing the size or don't do it.
  • What are you talking about? The iPhone (and new iPad) have the best screen quality of any mobile device out there. There might be android phones out there that possibly come close to resolution but the retina display still looks better than all of those.
  • No it doesn't, Samsungs Super Amoled + screens look every bit as good as the iPhone and iPad, I take it you believe the hype and because Apple bombarded you with refernces to pixels that you think more is better ... Lol pixels alone don't make for a quality screen, just as more pixels on a camera doesn't make it better.
  • It doesn't matter how good the screen is of the opperating system is ugly, like Samsung's. Apple will be just fine.
    PS pixels do matter, a 7 ppi phone would be horrible.
  • Is this post the result of not being able to see what you typed very well on a 3.5" screen? Just wondering.
  • Are you literally HIGH right now? In what way have android screen quality leapt ahead of Apple? There bigger sure but I'd never want to sacrifice resolution. My wife's Incredible 2 has a nice 4 inch screen but Its not even close in quality to my 4s.
  • All I want is lte. I am happy with the current screen size. Software side let there be 3G FaceTime. Without the need for jailbreak.
  • bigger screen BUT same size phone - or there abouts
  • +1.
    Same sized enclosure could fit a larger screen if it were flush with the edges. That's why I keep saying 3.9." The width of the actual front panel of the 4/4S is slightly less than 2.25 inches. There's a narrow plastic edge around both the front and back glass panels, presumably to prevent chipping. Estimating, then subtracting the thickness of the plastic edge, I get roughly 2.20" of actual glass surface as the maximum width. (This may not be possible, of course, depending on the LCD technology Apple uses.)
    Doing a little math, I get 2.20" x (960/640) = 3.30" as the height of the screen area if it were increased to the full width of the glass with no aspect ratio changes (i.e. still 3:2.) The diagonal would therefore be SQRT((2.20 x 2.20) + (3.30 x 3.30)) = 3.97". (Didn't use asterisk-asterisk notation for "squared" because that's how you italicize words in this particular forum.) That rounds up to an even 4" but it may not be possible to get the LCD display perfectly flush with the edges of the glass touch panel.
    Doing a little more math, let's guesstimate the minimum bezel width (the distance between the left and right edges of the screen in portrait mode) to be just 0.05" on each side, for a sum total of 0.1". That gives us 2.10" x (960/640) = 3.15" as the height of the screen. And SQRT((2.10 x 2.10) + (3.15 x 3.15)) = 3.79" diagonal.
    So, with zero bezel we get 3.97" diagonal and with an ultra-thin 0.05" bezel we get 3.79" diagonal, assuming no increase in the physical size of the glass touch panel. Hence my guess that the "new iPhone" will have a screen somewhere around 3.9". Of course, all bets are off if the physical glass is a different size.
  • I'd like to try almost the same size case and screen dpi, but with a higher resolution screen that goes right to the edges, at least on the horizontal.
    The "extra pixels" in the bezel could be utilised by updated "fullscreen" apps (such as the home screen, email and video playback apps) with older apps running exactly as before with a 1:1 pixel ratio in the centre area.
    It should be fairly easy for developers to support the new configuration as well as iPad and iPhone, especially for apps using the standard iOS UI.
    I guess the question is whether that would be enough difference in size and user experience to make it worthwhile.
    Peter Johnson
    Soluble Apps
    (developers of MailShot Pro- group emailing built into your favourite apps.)
  • I want a bigger screen with the same aspect ratio, 4G and a little thinner. Enlarging the screen to 4" by just a new aspect ratio but keeping the same width does nothing for me, that would be a no sell for me. They will probably enlarge it to 4" and say with a slightly bigger screen you hold it a little further away and still have the retina display or maybe they will just increase the screen size to get to 300 dpi say 3.85 or something and call it almost 4".
    If they don't make the screen bigger I will probably not upgrade and just keep using my iPhone 4. There would be no advantage to me to upgrade for the same size screen, the 4 works just fine. I would like a larger screen (wider) like my son has on his Android.
    The other thing I would like to see in iOS 6 is a Notification Center type Home Screen with developers able to create widgets. Make the search screen into a Notification Screen and make the search bar a Widget. Give us the option to make that our main home screen, and add Siri to the search results.
  • I'm ready for a larger screen so much so that as much as it pains me to say it, if they don't make it larger this year there is a very good chance of me switching to Android. Yes I may come running back with my tail between my legs but I'm willing to give Android a chance.
  • I Agree, they need a bigger screen or they will loose a lot of upgrade customers. Everybody knows someone with a bigger screen phone and that is the thing that they want most for the next upgrade along with LTE, which is a given. I wanted it on the last update and didn't get it so I skipped the 4S. I will not wait another year if it doesn't come out this year.
  • It's "lose" not "loose" .. They'll lose just as many customers when or if they make phones as big as tablets like most Android handsets. Considering they make 1 phone a year I doubt that they'll make a bigger screen and bigger phone just to please you and the others who want a phone anything but mobile anymore than they'll keep it the same. The fact is they could re-design the phone and increase the screen size to 4" without even making the phone bigger.
  • It's "redesign" not "re-design". And what's with the two periods?
    Now that the arrogant grammar police crap is out of the way, I think it should be obvious that they are much more likely to increase the screen size to please all the people that are demanding it rather than keeping it the same. They would be foolish not to.
    You won't find many people complaining on the Android forums about their phones being too big. You will find a lot of people who have never owned one saying that though. I used to think 4.25" was too big. Until I bought my EVO. Now, I wouldn't consider anything less. It makes the phone so much better to use. And believe it or not, it's still very mobile.
  • I'd be happy if they kept the current form factor so that my existing accessories (battery bike mount case, eg.) wouldn't need to be replaced. It'd be fine to push the screen size up to use more of the current form factor. It could get a bit wider, but mostly, the aspect ratio could be extended. There's no need for this to be a problem for developers as non-updated apps just wouldn't use the extra space (perhaps use it for extra system info or a larger clock or something). Updated apps could take advantage of the additional space, and video (landscape) would benefit immediately.
  • Changing the Aspect Ratio is a big problem. It creates more space and newer Apps will utilize that space and then those newer Apps will not work on older phones. It fragments the system so that you have different apps for different phones. If they keep the same aspect ratio then there is no problem, the old apps fit fine on the larger screen.
    Changing the Aspect Ratio is the worst thing Apple could do, yes older apps could still run on the newer phone screen boxed but developers could not write to the new Aspect Ratio without making it not fit properly on the millions of existing phones.
  • Forgive me, for I really just don't know much about screen resolution/aspect ratio, and I've seen so many people bringing up this "changing the aspect ratio will be so hard for developers" argument. I guess I'm confused because Android phones come in virtually every screen size and can all run the same android apps. What are android developers capable of that iPhone app developers aren't? Furthermore, why can't apple increase the screen size and just add more pixels to keep it retina? Again, I ask these questions because I am just truly ignorant on the matter.
  • It's not so much a matter of whether the iPhone developers are "capable" (as I am sure that most would be) but technically it is far simpler to design for just one or two screen sizes.
    This means that time that would have been spent making it run on a dozen different screen resolutions, and testing that it works on hundreds of different devices, can be instead spent more productively on the app itself..
  • They will have to do it at some point. 16:9 is the standard and what most people expect on a media device.
  • I'm on the fence with the bigger screen idea. I think Apple really hit a home run with the case re-design when the iPhone 4 came out. I totally get that, aesthetically, they like to refresh the look every two years.. but I really hope they keep the form the way it is.
  • I had the 3G iPhone and now have the 4. I much preferred the feel of the 3G in my hand to that of the 4. I would like to see the new iPhone get the feel of the iPad. It looks and feels much thinner that it actually is because of the way they do the edges. I don't really like the Glass on the back, almost everyone covers it up with a case anyway so there is no need for it.
  • I still have the original iPhone and my "daily driver" iPhone 4, and I actually prefer the look and feel of the original iPhone over the 4; it's similar to the 3G/3GS but with a metal back (except for the black plastic antenna cover at the bottom). I like the look and feel of the 4 too, but I sometimes wish I could take the inner workings of the 4 and put it into the original iPhone's casing; it just has such a nice feel in the hand. That way I could have the screen resolution and performance of the 4 in the shell of the original. But I doubt it would fit in there right.
  • 4" is a great choice, but I hope that the device size will not increase too much. Apple could have a bigger display by reducing the borders around the glass for example.
  • A 4" screen could fit by only adding 1/4" to the width. They could keep the height the same or possibly even reduce the height a small amount. With the newer glass and battery technology they can also make the phone thinner and lighter, or they could keep the same thickness and weight add longer battery life because of the newer technology.
  • Honestly, if the ppi drops, I'm not interested. Period.
  • I am not a scientist nor tech geek? But why would the PPI ever decrease? Apple would NEVER do that? Increasing the size of screen, is just that, the size of screen gets bigger. It has nothing to do with PPI (Pixels Per Inch). There would just more pixels in the overall screen. Which should not be hard, it is not making them anymore dense or anything? Just a bigger screen.
    Now if you are talking about the term Retina display, then that is a different question issue. From what I can figure out, the Retina Display derives around what the eye can actually see on the screen. And the factors for that are about the PPI and then the viewing distance? I believe the PPI on the new iPad is less than the iPhone and both are still Retina display. Other commentors can correct me on the details? But unless the viewing distance on the iPhone changes, and they keep the same PPI, it would still be considered a Retina display?
    So the only real issue is the overall size of the phone, and if the ratio changes.
    Obviously making it bigger is not great? Simple.
    But the ratio discussion has got me boggled? Sure the developers would have to rescale their products for each device? This already somewhat happens with the iPad and iPhone apps. There are different apps for each a lot of the time? Sure there would be another one?
    But other option is to just make that extra screen space usable by the Apple specific apps. Like maps, safari, photos, video, etc. Or for iAds so that the ads take up less space of the app?
    Other option and more devious, is for apple to just do it. And then apps that use the extra space, those apps get letterboxed on the old phones? What better way for Apple to get people to buy new phones? Sure you can keep your 4S that does everything you want. But the usable portion of the screen gets smaller because the apps need to be scaled to its ratio? So more people would want to upgrade to get ALL the features, of the new apps?
    Just my $.02
  • No ofenese but I think you haven't got the basics clear. I'd suggest you read about resolution, display size and PPI. If they increased the display size then they'd either keep the resolution and decrease the PPI allowing apps to stay unchanged or increase the resolution that would, depending on the new resolution, decrease, keep or increase the PPI although apps would need to be adapted
  • Pretty soon we will be carrying HDTV sized phones that will require its own satellite! Every time I see a person pull out a massive screen I can't help but to look. Id rather something that doesnt beckon my privacy to be invaded. The current screen size is perfect and personally I'd prefer a faster processor better battery life and an improved Camera, and of course more freedom to tweak personal preferences within the iPhone settings without having to resort to jailbreak. But that will most likey never happen.
  • They do the bigger screen, change the ppi, add a capacitive home button, and label it "the new iPhone".
  • What distinguished Apple all these years is their focus on QUALITY (ex. retina) over QUANTITY (thus having more inches like if its some macho contest).
    Screw a beach-sandal-sized phone if it will take away from the retina quality.
    For those who are into "mine is bigger than yours" arguments, you guys are very cool but please just grab an Android.
  • I don't thnk anyone here is asking for a beach sandal-sized phone, or a drop in pixel density. And I don't think Apple would actually do either of those things.
    I'd like a bigger screen, but I personally think that the screen size one-upmanship is getting out of hand (looking at the 4.8" Galaxy S3 and the 5.3" Galaxy Note). The 4.65" screen on my Galaxy Nexus was about as big as I'd ever go (sadly, I had to send that phone back due to signal issues). It's still very pocketable due to the thinness and light weight, and is much easier to read, browse, and watch videos on. Pixel density was comparable to the 4/4S (316 ppi vs. 326 on the 4/4S; not really noticeable).
    But in certain cases it did get a little unwieldy (e.g. when using it one-handed), and I wouldn't have minded one bit if Samsung would've made it "only" 4.3" like the S2. And finding a big enough holster for it was a bit of a challenge. So a 4" screen on the next iPhone would be fine. I trust that Apple could figure out a way to bring it up to 4" without lowering the pixel density or significantly increasing the overall size & weight of the device.
  • There are many android users who think 4" is the sweet spot when it comes to screen size. I am considering a jump from Android to iOS and this would surely be a factor. I currently use a Galaxy S Fascinate w/ a 4" screen and I wouldn't want to go smaller. However, I am also sick of seeing nothing but HUGE phones being released w/ Android... You can no longer find a sub 4.3" premium Android device, I think Apple could fill this void.
  • I used to have a Samsung Vibrant (T-Mo USA's version of the Fascinate) which had that exact same 4" screen, and I'm inclined to agree; I think 4" really is the sweet spot as it makes reading, typing, browsing, and video watching better while keeping a nice, compact, easily pocketable (or holsterable) size. The 4.65" screen on the Galaxy Nexus is the biggest screen I've ever used, and it's about the limit for me. I don't think I'd go any bigger than that. Re: the Android manufacturers, they really should make high-end phones with a 4" to maybe 4.3" screen. The problem with that is that nowadays, a phone with a 4" to 4.3" screen probably isn't going to be high-end, more like mid-end, and that needs to change. I remember it wasn't too long ago that the 4.3" screens were first coming out (e.g. on the HTC EVO), and we thought that was huge at the time. Now it's just getting to be kinda ridiculous, with all the OEMs trying to one-up each other in screen size for its own sake, never mind the practicality of it (looking at the Galaxy S3 and the Note).
  • I want a bigger screen. Oh yeah, and LTE. :)
  • I'm personally happy with the current screen and form factor, but I realize that Apple needs to grow the screen for marketing purposes, if nothing else.
    So - I have a serious question for our Android friends. Since there are multiple screen sizes on Andriod phones, how do app writers and/or the phones deal with the different screen resolutions? Are apps massive to accomodate elements necessary to work with all the different screens? Do they use black bars or just cut off a bit of image as needed? Does the Andriod OS have software based image scaling built into it?
    I ask because I'm sure Apple will want to avoid the bad press that will come with a "larger, but less than retina display", so they will need some plan to allow the new phone to properly display older apps (and allow new apps to work on older phones).
    How do Android based phones do it? What works best and how satisfied are you with the way it's done?
  • Android can automatically scale. Scaling will not always provide the best results, however, so developers are encouraged to optimize their code for the most common resolutions.
  • The premium Android phones today have either standard qHD or HD resolution with a 16:9 aspect ratio.
    I haven't run into any display problems on my EVO3D. The bigger problem I believe is the huge variety of supporting hardware, not the screen size or resolution. Not that I have found that to be a big enough issue to be a deal breaker, but still, it is an issue.
  • The very same people that are demanding for a new screen on the next iPhone are the same who will complain about how bulky the next iPhone is !
  • Yeah. Not surprising. I just hope the resolution is the same, 336ppi, or maybe even more...One of the biggest factors that draws me towards the iPhone is its unmatched Retina display.
  • You all need to find something to do....
  • if this would be pushed thru by Apple, then 4s would be my last. i think they should focus on the performance rather than a wider screen. they are releasing a 7" ipad they release a 4" iphone. maybe they should just mosh up the two devices.
  • Whatever apple releases this fall i believe that it was conceived years ago. Apple doesnt make last second decisions, unless its related to quality (ie the plastic vs glass screen in the original iphone)
    That being said, its important to look to the past when predicting the future.
    The original iphone carried a resolution of 320x480. Apple doubled the resolution for the iphone 4 taking it to 640x960. The doubling of pixels makes it easier on app developers; as we all know. So it makes sense that at some point Apple will increase the resolution again and the easiest way to do this is to double the pixels. If we double the current retina display we get a new resolution of 1280x1920. I dont believe that it is a coincidence that this new resolution would be just slightly more than 1080p(1280x1080).
    Apple will not increase the screen size without increasing the resolution, because they would lose the retina display (unless they give it a small increase to 3.7" but that small of an increase dosent make sense.
    All iOS devices have a ratio of 3:2 so this is very unlikely to change.
    Thus the question is simple: is the technology available for Apple to double the resolution of the current retina display so that they can also increase the screen size? While I hope the tech does exist, im afraid it just doesn't yet. But if anyone can unexpectedly pack a 1080p display into a roughly 4" screen, Apple can.
  • Correction all iphone apps have a ratio of 3:2
  • "if anyone can unexpectedly pack a 1080p display into a roughly 4" screen, Apple can."
    Pssst, it's actually Samsung that makes most of Apple's displays, just sayin'... ;)
  • I'd more likely expect a modest (0.1 or 0.2") screen size bump keeping the resolution above 300ppi.
  • I doubt that Apple will change the screen size. It is perfect the way it is. Screen size is something they toyed with back in 2006-2007 when the original iPhone came about. They found that the 3.5-inch screen size was perfect. The only way I can see a slight bump in screen size happening is if more room for components is needed inside, causing the need for a slightly bigger phone, itself. Other than that, I think Apple has the sweet spot done right, and if it ain't broke.. don't fix it.
  • I believe studies indicate that you're wrong and that the vast majority of smart phone users would prefer a larger screen now that mobile media consumption and portable Web browsing has become so popular. I think the sweet spot is somewhere between 4" and 4.5" with little/no bezel.
    If Apple fails to increase screensize, they will lose customers.
  • It's too bad Apple's iOS developers aren't innovative enough to build automatic scaling into their operating system, and therefore leave the burden on app developers to code and release multiple versions of the same app just to get them to scale correctly on the whopping two screensizes they're working with.
    One of nicest aspects if Android 4.0 is the ability to have a single app run at any resolution and even automatically switch to tablet mode (dual panels, etc) when a higher resolution is detected. Who knows, maybe Apple will finally wake up and fix this serious issue in iOS6...
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