Why I Want a Taller and Wider iPhone 5

The latest rumors are in and it looks like Apple will give us a larger four-inch iPhone 5 ships this fall.

When everyone talked about a larger screen I assumed we they meant a taller and wider iPhone 5 with the same aspect ratio of the current model adding an extra half-inch to the diagonal disply measurement. Now it looks like Apple might keep the same width and increase the height of the iPhone adding an extra 176 pixels

This isn’t the iPhone I want, but it looks like it might be the iPhone we get. Check out a look at a what this iPhone panel might look like in the video below.

Read: iPhone 5 Rumor Roundup

Android’s Biggest Strength Compared to iPhone

I’m an iPhone guy! I tried to go Android last year, first with the Samsung Fascinate, which I quickly returned and picked up the HTC Thunderbolt. Frustrated, I replaced it with a Samsung Infuse 4G which also failed me.

During that short time in Android land I really enjoyed a few things like the navigation, the ability to customize things more easily and most of all the bigger display. They don’t boast a high-resolution retina display, but I can see the tiny text on webpages and type with my big paws. Still, I went back to the iPhone when the iPhone 4S arrived.

The iPhone 4S’s beautiful retina display looks great, but the smaller screen brought back the typos and the struggle to view the tiny print. Since last fall I’ve longed for the day of a wider iPhone making easier to type and see text.

While Sumocat argues for a bigger and slower iPhone 5, for users who want bigger displays, I want a flagship iPhone 5 with a larger display that stands up to Android smartphones.

The Taller iPhone

Safari on the taller 4 inch iPhone compared to today's iPhone

The rumor of a taller iPhone 5 sounds credible to me coming from a pair of trusted sources in 9to5Mac and Jon Gruber at Daring Fireball, who didn’t actually say it’s a done deal but did say there’s a lot of smoke indicating fire. My heart sank as I read the news.

If Apple gives us a taller 4-inch instead of a taller and wider 4-inch screen I might suck it up and deal with it. However, this time around I’m less likely than I was last fall. I want more space for typing and I want a larger screen that also gives me bigger print.

Two Reasons for a Taller iPhone

I’ve heard two compelling reasons for a taller iPhone instead of a wider one. First, it gives you a 16×9 aspect ratio, better for watching HD video. I know people watch HD video on their iPhones, but I’m not one of them. That’s why I bought an iPad. A larger iPhone with both a wider and taller display would offer bigger HD viewing. The real video size isn’t much smaller than it would with a taller screen, not enough to make a big difference. Sure you still get the dark lines above and below the image, but I’m used to it. I don’t care!

Read: Why You’ll Love a Taller iPhone 5

Second, some tout that at 2.31 inches wide, the current iPhone fits even small hands better than a wider phone. They can still reach the other side of the screen with their thumbs.

I’m Not Buying It

First, when I see people use their current iPhones, most use both hands. They either thumb type with both thumbs or they hold it with one hand and tap with the index finger of the other. For the crowd that does thumb type with one hand, most of their hands are big enough. Even if your hands are small, the wider screen won’t add that much. We’re talking a fraction of an inch wider.

Many love the current size and say that you’re not adding that much so why bother. The difference for the small number of small-handed one hand thumb typists won’t notice that big a difference. Your eyes will. Anyone whose viewed an iPhone next to a phone with a 4-inch display can see the difference.

How to Go Wider Without Fragmenting

Would you add more pixels or just make the pixels in the current size bigger? I say just stretch the display which reduces the pixel density. The difference between 326ppi retina display of the iPhone 4/4S and the 264ppi iPad 3 is imperceptible. People won’t really see much of a difference. If Apple goes taller and wider, reducing the pixel density users won’t notice.

Developers benefit the most from stretching the pixels. They won’t need to add a fourth pixel density of the images in their apps. Right now you need four different graphics for universal apps that run on the iPhone and the iPad. One for the older iPhone 3GS and earlier, one for the iPhone 4/4S, one for the first two iPads and a fourth for the iPad 3. Change the aspect ratio of the iPhone 5 and you add a fifth size making development more complex.

Apple often makes hardware changes and tells devs to deal with it. However, they’ve also touted the benefit of the iPhone over Android because it doesn’t suffer from as much fragmentation. How many screen sizes and resolutions do you need before you suffer from fragmentation? I don’t know, but adding one more adds complexity to an ecosystem that flourishes thanks to simplicity.