2018 was the year that smartphone manufacturers (both Samsung and Apple) embraced the taller 18:9 screen aspect ratio. Is the bigger screen format necessarily better? Is it right for you?
You don’t always need a bigger phone screen, and here are some of the reasons why (aside from the smaller ones usually being cheaper).
Most games, apps, and videos have been developed or shot for a smaller screen. Since they’re not optimised for the larger 18:9 aspect ratio screen, an irritating viewing experience called “letterboxing” will occur. So, when you play your favourite games or watch videos on the bigger screen, there will be two cringe-inducing black bars on either side of the screen when it’s in landscape mode.
Some large-screen models can force an app into displaying at full screen, but most developers never intended for the apps to be on a bigger screen. If the app is stretched to fit an 18:9 ratio, you’ll often end up with some areas being cropped out to eliminate the black bars. This can lead to certain parts of the visuals being lost.
Not every brand sticks rigidly to a standard screen size, which can lead to a wide variety of display differences. Because of these small variations, many developers struggle to produce sufficient app compatibility updates to support the many aspect ratios and resolutions that exist. Even a millimetre difference between all the major brands’ screens can add up to a real headache for app developers; a millimetre can hold a lot of pixels.
Because of this fragmentation, apps are continuously having to send out update tweaks to users who buy devices with a larger screen.
Camera Mismatch will Affect Resolution
The cameras on the larger 18:9 aspect ratio phones don’t always capture those dimensions by default. It’s a case of the screen getting bigger while the rest of the phone stays the same. You can see this through those tell-tale two black bars on either side of the screen.
The real kicker is when you have the image stretch to fit the entire screen; then the overall resolution will drop. This means that the 12MP sensor doesn’t work at full capacity when the image has been changed to adapt to a bigger screen.
Screen Size vs Screen Area
In comparison with an 18:9 aspect 5.7 inch/14.5 cm screen, a 16:9 aspect 14.5 cm screen often has a higher display. When manufacturers advertise the latest phone size dimensions, they’re talking about the actual phone size, not the size of the screen. What has changed is the fact that the phone is now more comfortable to hold because it’s narrower.
Some people who have smaller hands will struggle to reach the display corners of an 18:9 aspect ratio phone. If the phone has larger dimensions, it stands to reason that someone with a bigger hand will have less of a problem stretching their fingers without changing their grip to reach certain features on the screen.
Forced On-Screen Buttons
A bezel is an area on a smartphone that is not the actual screen. Outside the trade, people would call them margins. Manufacturers of taller displays have made these narrower or slimmer. Apple’s latest iPhone has gotten around the problem of not having any space for the home button by eliminating it. However, other brands are forced into allowing the on-screen capacitive button taking up a certain amount of on-screen space.
With all of this knowledge now in your hands, it’s easy to see that the rush to change-up to a bigger screen might not be as essential as previously thought. With the finger-swipe enlarging capabilities and zero black bars, hanging onto a phone that fits comfortably into your back pocket might be your best option.
Robert runs most of the daily operations at Clever Shop List. From finding new categories to cover, to researching to blog content, he makes sure everything stays up to date and is running smoothly. He is an expert on consumer behaviour.
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