Could the iPhone 5 have a 4-inch screen while keeping the same 4S footprint?

What if, in order to fit a 4-inch screen into the next iPhone, instead of changing the iPhone chassis or altering the Retina-grade pixel density, Apple simply switched from a 3:2 to a 9:5 aspect ratio? The Home screen could simply show another row of icons, apps with listviews could simply show another list item, videos could simply be shown wider-screen, and current, non-scalable apps could simply be boxed the way iPhone apps are on iPads. The display would maintain the 1.94-inch width, but be bumped up to 3.49 inches long, resulting in a 640 x 1152 resolution and measure 3.99 inches diagonally. Such a display would fit on the 4.5" x 2.3" footprint of the current iPhone while providing 20% more screen space, though the home button and earpiece might need a bit of reworking.

A reader on The Verge, Timothy Collins, posited just theory on how Apple might implement a 4-inch screen with the iPhone 5.. Another forum-goer picked up the theory and went to town describing how it might work. Now, this wasn't much more than a neat hypothetical idea until Daring Fireball's Jon Gruber commented "Methinks 'Colin' wasn’t merely guessing or idly speculating." Developers might have a few changes to make in order to adapt to the new screen size, but overall, the idea is pretty sound, if only in theory. Let's put it this way: could Apple reasonably release another iPhone while keeping the display size at 3.5 inches? What are the odds that they're willing to increase the physical dimensions to do so? Right now, screen real estate is my biggest complaint about the iPhone, but I love the fact that it fits in the tiny pocket on my jeans. Though I'm not asking Apple to release something the size of the Galaxy Note, it would be nice to see a screen in the 3.7 - 4-inch range. What do you guys think? Could this theory fly?

A mock-up of the iPhone 5 screen size

Source: Daring Fireball, The Verge

Simon Sage

Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.