With Apple’s sixth-generation iPhone set to make its debut this year, there’s no doubt the company has a number of prototype devices — all with different designs and specifications — in testing within its Cupertino headquarters. One of those handsets is said to feature a 3.95-inch widescreen display with a 640 x 1136 resolution that’s taller than all the existing 3.5-inch iPhone displays we’ve seen to date.
According to 9to5Mac, Apple could be gearing up to break away from the 3.5-inch, 640 x 960 displays used in its iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S in favor of an additional 0.45 inches. It also has a larger handset “floating around Apple HQ in thick, locked shells in order to disguise the exterior design to ‘undisclosed’ employees.”
We know of two next-generation iPhones in testing with a larger display: the iPhone 5,1 and iPhone 5,2. These phones are in the PreEVT stage of development and are codenamed N41AP (5,1) and N42AP (5,2). […]
Both of these phones sport a new, larger display that is 3.95 inches diagonally. Apple will not just increase the size of the display and leave the current resolution, but will actually be adding pixels to the display. The new iPhone display resolution will be 640 x 1136. That’s an extra 176 pixels longer of a display. The screen will be the same 1.94 inches wide, but will grow to 3.45 inches tall. This new resolution is very close to a 16:9 screen ratio, so this means that 16:9 videos can play full screen at their native aspect ratio.
To take advantage of those extra pixels, Apple is also said to be testing a “new build of iOS 6” that are written specifically for the new display. Apparently, these builds include a fifth row of home screen icons — as opposed to just four — and “extended application user interfaces that offer views of more content.”
Because of the additional pixels, Apple can make the iPhone’s display larger without losing that super sharp Retina display. The handset is also said to feature a smaller dock connector that is “between the size of a Micro-USB and Mini-USB connector.”
Of course, if Apple does change the iPhone’s aspect rather — rather than just “pixel-doubling” its display — it will mean that iOS developers must tweak their apps to take advantage of that larger display. That may not be a big issue for apps like Twitter or Facebook, which can simply be “extended.” But for games and more complex UIs, it’s going to mean a lot of work.
One iOS developer recently told GigaOM 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.”
Whether or not Apple actually turns its larger prototype into a reality remains to be seen, but many believe that changing the handsets aspect ratio makes no sense, and is therefore an unlikely move.