Taking a closer look at the iPhone 5’s larger screen, Apple has finally responded to the popularity of larger and larger rival handsets such as the Samsung Galaxy S3 and LG Optimus 4X HD. But, instead of leaping up to an enormous 4.7 or 4.8in screen it has simply made the existing one a bit taller.
The result is a phone that still fits comfortably in the hand but which can fit an extra row of icons on screen and is better suited to watching video thanks to its 16:9 aspect ratio. There is still a noticeable step up in size and visual impact going for those even larger phones but equally there’s enough of an improvement here that you’d be reasonably happy to watch a full movie while out and about, whereas on the 4S is was a bit too cramped.
From left to right: Samsung Galaxy Note, Samsung Galaxy S3, LG Optimus 4X HD, Apple iPhone 5 and Apple iphone 4S.
In terms of pixels, you still get the same pixel density of 320ppi as the iPhone 4/4S but here 176 more rows of pixels have been added to fill the extra height. As such it’s still an incredibly sharp display that’s superb for reading fine text and picking out tiny details in images. That said, the total resolution is still a step behind that on its big screen rivals which offer 720 x 1280 pixels for a total pixel count of 921,600 compared to the iPhone 5’s 727,040.
The quality of the screen, though, is class-leading. Apple has joined many other rivals in removing a layer from the screen production process, with the LCD display now built right onto the front pane of glass. The result is that painted-on effect that modern phone have where it literally looks like you could touch the image. It also results in astonishingly good viewing angles, plus Apple has increased colour saturation by 44 percent and the display now uses the sRGB colour gamut - the colour standard used by most other computing devices - for more accurate colours. It really is superb.
One potential downside of the bigger screen will be old apps that haven’t been converted to support the longer screen. The phone adds black bars top and bottom or on either side (depending on orientation) to fit the app in the screen’s centre, so it will look just like it does on an old iPhone. This is a sensible solution but some may find these black bars a little distracting – a bit like watching an old non-widescreen TV show on your new widescreen telly - but we hardly noticed after a few moment's use. Plus, most apps have now been converted to support the new screen size.
Something to consider about the iPhone 5's screen is that the extra height does move it just outside of complete one-handed comfort with it being a stretch to reach the very top, while the lack of extra width means some users may still find it a little cramped for typing in portrait mode. So arguably Apple should've bit the bullet and made the whole screen larger. In fact, it's this logic that BlackBerry used for settling on the Z10's 4.2in screen size - it's both a bit wider for easier typing and a little taller for even more screen space. But, overall. having used plenty of larger screened phones, we're yet to find ourselves longing for more screen.
That said, we’d probably still give the overall awesome-screen crown to the HTC One X, Nokia Lumia 920 and BlackBerry Z10 for their sheer size and resolution as well as quality, but if you like your phones a bit smaller the iPhone is up there with the best.