Apple Forces iPhone Apps To Go Retina Display, iPhone 3GS On The Way Out?



Apple sent out an interesting message to third-party developers today. iOS devs are now required to submit Retina display screenshots for their iPhone and iPod touch apps to the App Store. All updates to existing apps must also meet the 960×640 resolution requirement.

Not only does this new policy signal the death of 480×320 resolution apps, but it also indicates that the iPhone 3GS may not be around much longer.

Required iPhone & iPod touch Screenshot Upgrade for Retina Display

When you create or update your apps in iTunes Connect, you must upload screenshots that are high-resolution. We require your screenshots as high-resolution images so that your app is optimized for the Retina display.

The requirements for high-resolution images are 960 x 640, 960 x 600, 640 x 960, or 640 x 920 pixels. Images must be at least 72 dpi, in the RGB color space, and the file must be .jpeg, .jpg, .tif, .tiff, or .png. You can update your screenshot files at any time in iTunes Connect.

Since the introduction of the Retina display-equipped iPhone 4 and iPod touch in 2010, lower-resolution apps have simply scaled up on Apple’s fourth and fifth (iPhone 4S) generation devices. The result has been a semi-fragmented experience in the App Store. We all know how much Steve Jobs hated fragmentation, and there was nothing worse than downloading an app on your iPhone 4 that hadn’t been updated for the Retina Display. The screen looked pixelated and the whole experience was very un-Apple like.

Most of the apps that people actually use in the App Store have been updated for the Retina display over the last couple years, and then there’s the thousands upon thousands of worthless titles that haven’t hopped on the bandwagon. Now Apple is saying that it’s Retina display or the highway.

The iPhone 3GS came out in June of 2009. During the iPhone 4S announcement last October, Apple announced that it would begin offering the 3GS for free with a two-year carrier contract. That was a brilliant move that has helped Apple saturate itself into the low-end smartphone market. But it’s time to move on.

After nearly 3 years, Apple could finally be ready to put the 3GS to bed. There’s no reason to keep selling an outdated phone that can’t even display App Store apps in their full resolution.

Here’s what I see happening in 2012: The 3GS gets the boot. The iPhone 5 (technically the sixth-generation version) takes the 4S’s place as Apple’s flagship smartphone. The iPhone 4S gets put in the sub-$100 price range and the iPhone 4 takes the place of the 3GS. Considering that the iPhone 4 is still one of the best handsets on the market, and the fact that Apple is leading the pack in market share growth and profits, I see no reason why the iPhone 4 couldn’t be offered for free with a carrier contract this year. Apple would have its most impressive lineup ever: the upcoming iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, and iPhone 4.

Adios, 3GS. Don’t let you door hit you on your way out.


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  • liamdaly

    About time

  • Georgesab

    I’m guessing the iPod Touch 3G will go out too. Hopefully with a iPod Touch 5G being released then I’m predicting we may see like we saw years ago.

    The 5th generation 32GB and 64GB iPod Touch, whilst the 8GB/Possibly a new 16GB is only the 4th generation.

  • Blake Beavers

    Well its about damn time…

  • Tiago Matos

    Enforcing that rule doesn’t really mean breaking 3GS app support. It stops developers from trying to put only lower resolution resources into apps that they want to put up on the App Store. It’s just that currently, most of iPhones out there have a retina display, so it’s about raising the “quality” bar for new apps. It’s up to the developers to decide whether to keep releasing apps with lower resolution resources.

    Besides that, older iPhones are still very much capable of displaying and handling higher resolution images.

  • pollix

    I love my 3GS!  I’ve seen the retina display on my friends iPhone 4/4S and it’s brilliant.  I agree with Apple that you can’t hang onto the past, but I don’t see the 3GS just being a piece of trash.  What I see happening is what Apple did with the older iPhones.  They simply won’t allow newer software to update on the 3GS.

  • Mike Rathjen

    The iPhone is dead. Long live the iPhone.

  • Caspian

    XCode round of update imminent.

  • rjove696

    Hmm, interesting. I see this as a sign that Apple won’t release a 4″ iPhone :-(

  • 300AShareMakesMeSmile

    I’m certainly waiting for a new model iPod Touch.  It hope it comes with an A6 processor but if an A5 with Siri capabilty is the best Apple can do, I’ll take it.

  • t87

    Good riddance I say.

  • t87

    Don’t be an ignorant dick.

  • sn0wball

    3gs was my first smartphone. it was/is a good phone ill be sad to see it go. however that’s life, gotta keep moving forward.

  • sn0wball

    i was thinking the same thing

  • Mike Rathjen

    When the old king dies and the young prince is crowned, as the old saying goes, “The king is dead. Long live the king.” The saying simultaneously mourns the old king’s death and celebrates the new king’s succession to power.

    In this case, the iPhone3Gs is the old king and the upcoming iPhone5 (or perhaps the 4S) is the new king. Perhaps my play on words was not particularly witty, but I don’t think it makes me “an ignorant dick”.

    In any case, thank you for your well-reasoned and intelligent response.

  • Ricardo Morgado Ferreira


  • Eduard Tiesto

    spot-on, mango. LOVED your measured and polite reply to t87 (who`s like the poster person – to be PC – for spiteful, inconsequential comments that make me dread the comment section on any site). gotta fight them with class. you`re my hero for today :)

  • SevanGrim

    …why exactly would the 5 have a a6 processor when the 5 was named 5 to get ready for the 5, and the 5 hasnt even reached its full potential yet?

  • SevanGrim

    Iphone 4 isnt going free. Its still too young. It will probably go super cheap (40-100) and maybe it will have its random free specials with carriers, but the 3gs was old. the 4 wont go free until the 5s comes out.

  • Al

    Agreed, well done Mango. Unfortunately there are a lot of people who post before they think, if they think at all.

  • Al

    Although, they could still release a 4″ in addition to the 3.5″. The 4″ could just be slightly less retina, but the same number of pixels?

  • gareth edwards

    I’m still rocking a 3G.

  • joewaylo

    Nah. They won’t ditch the 3GS. They just require that they meet iPhone 4’s software support along with the oldies. And ditch their 2.0/3.0 screenshots. There’s 25%?? of the apps that are still 3.1.3 and haven’t moved along to 4.0. Any app dated 2009 haven’t even added 4.0 or 5.0.

    Even the best apps on there are 2009 now. NGMOCO ditched their updating days on some of their best apps like Eliminate Pro and GodFinger?? The app where you build villages and people.
    Apple still has to support the oldies now and then. Even if the iPhone, 3G, and 3GS are several years old. They can’t remove customer service from their old devices completely.

  • Fring

    Yeah, we’ll done A-Mango, an intelligent reposte. I’m afraid I can rarely be so patient and as I get older, tend to go for the hole-in-one rapier thrust retort. Oh…and mix metaphors galore of course.

  • Zach Crandell

    Once you go retina.. you can’t really go back to anything else :P

  • Daniel

    Dude…. Eliminate Pro was awesome!

  • David_Lazarus

    Apple need to start with the Apple Store App, and make it an iPad app as well.