May 22, 2012 at 4:30 PM ET
The only thing I hate more than realizing I'm out of popcorn is realizing that I'm out of popcorn while a heated debate about an Apple rumor is occurring. The current topic of discussion? If the next iPhone will have a larger display and — if so — whether it will have a new "widescreen" display resolution.
This time around, things got started when the folks at 9to5 Mac wrote that they've heard — via mysterious, unnamed sources — that the next iPhone will "sport a new, larger display that is 3.999 inches diagonally."
While a 4-inch screen is something many prior reports have claimed, there's more to this new rumor. According to 9to5 Mac, Apple will not only increase the size of the display, but also will be "adding pixels." The new iPhone display resolution would be 640 x 1136 — which is the same width, but 176 pixels longer than the current iPhone model's display:
The screen will be the same 1.9632 inches wide, but will grow to 3.484 inches tall. This new resolution is very close to a 16:9 screen ratio.
This new screen aspect ratio, declared many tech writers, can't possibly happen — just think of the developers and how much they'd struggle to adjust all the graphics in their apps to account for not only more dots, but a different screen shape. (Generally, previous rumors presumed that the screen size would expand from 3.5 inches to 4 inches without changing the current 640 x 960 screen resolution, so there would be no software issues.)
But as usual, Jim Dalrymple — who is known for both his beard and his insight on Apple — becomes the voice of reason when calls attention to a blog post by Will Hains, who appears well-versed on Apple software design:
So, how hard it is for developers does not factor in Apple’s decision here. Rather, decisions are based on the resulting product; and then Apple works on making the transition as smooth as possible within that constraint. “Do I want this to happen?” is a different question to “Will it happen?”
"I don’t agree with everything in this post," wrote Dalrymple, but he called Hains' explanation of the reasons why developers wouldn't be too pained by a screen resolution change "a good read."
So while the smart money suggests that the next iPhone will have a larger screen, whether it gets a new aspect ratio (or indeed, why we would care about a longer, skinnier screen) is still a mystery. But at least we know that we're asking the right questions.
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