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What Old Apps Look Like on the iPhone 5’s 4-inch Display



Now that we know the iPhone 5 will officially ship with a taller 4-inch display, some might wonder what this does for older apps that weren’t designed with the longer display in mind.

I was concerned that apps would just stretch to fill the screen looking warped. For example, if an app included a circle shape in the UI design, that circle would look like an oval on the new 4-inch display as the interface stretched to fill the screen. Or worse, would they zoom in so that part of the app gets cut off?¬†Fortunately, that’s not how Apple handles older apps.

Phil Schiller of Apple explained this clearly during the iPhone 5 announcement event in San Francisco., which is now online for anyone to watch.


On the new iPhone 5 an older app will instead show up on screen at the same size as on the iPhone 4S. iOS 6 will place two black strips along the top and bottom in portrait mode or the left and right in landscape mode just like a letterbox film on a TV.

apps letterboxing on iPhone 5

Here’s what happens to apps not yet updated for the new 4-inch iPhone 5 display

Anyone who has watched a DVD on a screen that didn’t fit the movie’s widescreen aspect ratio, knows what the letterbox effect looks like. The same thing happens on the iPhone 5.

Hopefully, apps will get an update to take advantage of the full 4-inch display. If they don’t, or until they do, this letterbox effect sounds like a good solution in the interim.

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