iOS Developers Don’t Think Apple Will “Pull An Android” With The 4-Inch iPhone

iOS Developers Don’t Think Apple Will “Pull An Android” With The 4-Inch iPhone

The current iPhone's resolution stretched to fit a 4-inch display

The rumor mill has been saying for many months that Apple is planning a 4-inch iPhone for release later this year. Two major publications, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, recently hopped on the bandwagon to “confirm” the rumor. All signs are pointing to a larger iPhone, but what does that mean for iOS developers?

People have hypothesized all kinds of ways Apple could make an iPhone with a larger screen and still make it easy for developers to update their apps. The general consensus seems to be that Apple could change the aspect ratio for a taller display, but now the people that actually make apps have weighed in on the topic. While it’s unclear exactly how a new screen size would be implemented, developers feel confident that Apple won’t “pull an Android” and create a fragmented mess.

Erica Ogg of GigaOM asked some makers of popular iOS and Android apps to give their thoughts on the possibility of developing for a 4-inch iPhone. Most seemed to agree that changing the aspect ratio wouldn’t make sense, but that there would instead be some sort of pixel-doubiling magic. The makers behind a popular cross-platform app said that “we assume Apple isn’t going to pull an Android and fragment the device market unnecessarily. If they do, they must have a really good reason to do it, and we’re confident they’ll provide tools to make it easy to migrate. The last thing they want to do is put more friction in front of developers.”

One developer said that “changing the aspect ratio would be a lot of work for development teams. We found that maybe 50 percent of iOS development is [spent] in layout.”

If Apple totally redesigned the iPhone’s screen, developers would have to worry about supporting non-Retina and Retina resolutions for both the iPhone and iPad alongside the new resolution. That’s a lot of hassle for less than an inch of screen real estate, so many developers think that Apple will simply scale up the current 960×640 pixel resolution and call it a day.

Rene Ritchie of iMore has a great rundown of how Apple could make a 4-inch iPhone work, and he seems to think that scaling up the current resolution also makes the most sense:

The result of this type of screen would be bigger text, bigger controls and buttons, bigger touch targets — in other words, bigger apps. There would be no extra pixels gained, so the amount of information that could be displayed wouldn’t change, but the same amount of information would be displayed at a larger, presumably easier to consumer, easier to interact with size. Only at a lower density.

Why change the screen at all if the interface layout stays the same? As our own John Brownlee has argued already, Apple would need to make a bigger device to accommodate LTE networking. While it’s true that most Android handsets are coming out with big screens these days, Apple doesn’t have to “pull an Android” and fragment its product lineup with a 4-inch iPhone.

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  • redthree

    Absolutely no way we will get a different screen size. Nothing wrong with the current size and the screen is already amazing. Plenty of other fabulous things that can be added to the new iPhone, not to mention the fact that apple always shock us with something completely new. Rumours are all v. funny though. Bendy screen anyone?

  • Kevin Gill

    I am seriously hoping that Apple does not go with the larger screen. I like the screen size that iPhones currently have and it’s perfect.

  • RadTech5000

    I’d personally like to see a larger screen, I thought originally that it didn’t but now I do. I think it makes sense and I would say that the iPhone needs to evolve the screen size with it. I also say scale it to adjust for the Apps, there is no reason to make it any harder on them. 

  • rhonin

    I dropped the iPhone (from 4 to Android) as I wanted… no needed the 4″+ and LTE.

    No 4″+ screen will skip it again,   I can hear the devs “concerns” but 4″+ is the new normal in a smartphone and you can either get with the times or stay in the past.

    I will say that when I do use my iPhone4 (backup device) the small screen feels “old fashioned”.

  • silentwill

    4″? Nah. I’d stick with 3.5″ please.

  • Michael

    Just keep the same aspect ratio and increase the size. I am happy.

  • DavoteK

    Its a fickle market out there. Weren’t we talking about a smaller iPhone not so long ago? iPhone nano or whatever the rumour mills were claiming? Personally, I think the current iPhone is big enough. These behemoth android handsets are not exactly pocket friendly, so if the new iPhone goes bigger, I’m sticking with the 4S indefinitely. 

  • ApplePr0n

    4 is the biggest i’d want to go. If the next iphone comes out with some stupid 4.3 inch or 5 inch screen, i would cry. I’ve been saying this for awhile that the 4 inch screen size is perfect. 3.5 is a little small and 4.3 is a liitle too big

  • antoniofonseca

    Maybe…

    What if the real motivation behind this change in aspect ratio (16:9) for the iPhone screen is related (apps) with a TV that Apple is developing?
    But it takes great faith even.
    In this case we would be talking about two unconfirmed rumors, one dependent on the other.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath has been a staff writer at Cult of Mac for three years. He is also a co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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