Regarding a Smaller iPhone With the Same Pixel Count

Jin Kim:

Picture this: a kid in elementary school wielding an iPhone 4. Kinda big if you ask me. If Apple is building a smaller iPhone, it would be for guys and gals with smaller hands. The physical size matters, which is exactly the reason Apple would build a smaller iPhone. A smaller screen would force app rewrites? No. What if the smaller iPhone had a pixel format of 480×320? The same as the iPhone 3GS, 3G and the original? No rewriting required at all. And guess what? Apple would classify it as a Retina Display. Pure genius.

In theory this would work. You could make iPhone screens of any size, so long as the pixel resolution were either 480 × 320 or 960 × 640. But in practice that’s not how the iPhone was designed. It’s a physical artifact, and the size of the display is what’s important. Nor do I think the existing iPhone 4 is uncomfortably big for small hands. Apple might make the area surrounding the display smaller, and surely they’ll continue making the hardware thinner, but I really don’t think we’ll see screen sizes other than 3.5 inches, unless Apple introduces a new size that developers would need to specifically redesign their apps to properly target — and I just don’t see a need for that.

Update: Good point from reader Andrew MacKenzie, via email:

Ever seen 1st grade pencils? Fatter. Kindergarten crayons? Fatter. Parents intuitively know this. When you buy your kid his first train set, you get him one with large wheels and track, so his little hands can easily get the wheels on the track.

Right. Not that Apple is going to target the primary school demographic, but even if they were, bigger is probably better.

Sunday, 20 February 2011