iPhone 6 (Martin Hajek 011)

Virtually all of the rumors pertaining to Apple’s next iPhone center on its ultra-thin design and two screen sizes: 4.7 and 5.5 inches. But up until now, we were kept in the dark as to what screen resolution the larger 5.5-incher might have.

According to a new report by an informed blogger, the iPhone 6 will have a screen resolution of 1,704-by-960 pixels, a marked improvement over the current 1,136-by-640 pixels on the iPhone 5/5s/5c…

The 1,704-by-900 resolution is basically a tripled ‘base’ resolution of 568-by-320 pixels. Before the iPhone 5 came along, the iPhone 4 introduced us to the Retina resolution of 960-by-640 pixels, which itself is a pixel-doubled 480-by-320 resolution found on the non-Retina 3.5-inch original iPhone and the iPhone 3G/3Gs.

The release of the taller iPhone 5 in 2012 has yielded a slight vertical increase from 960 to 1,136 pixels in order to accommodate a fifth row if Home screen icons. The change meant the 568-by-320 resolution became a new ‘base’ resolution of the iPhone 5/5s/5c for developers.

How’s so? Easy, just multiply this base 568-by-320 resolution by a factor of 2 – both horizontally and vertically – and you’ll end up with the Retina-friendly 1,136-by-640 pixels of the iPhone 5/5s/5c.

Mark Gurman has allegedly learned from sources that the next iPhone will triple this base resolution, yielding a 1,704-by-960 pixel canvas for developers to work with.

Just like with the transition to the iPhone 4′s Retina display in 2010 and the transition to the iPhone 5′s taller screen in 2012, Apple is preparing major resolution changes for the iPhone 6 that will require software changes by both Apple and developers, according to people briefed on the specifications of the new device.

Even better, this new pixel-trippled resolution would retain the same 16:9 aspect ratio as the iPhone 5/5s/5c while falling under the Retina requirement of at least 300 pixels per inch.

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A 16:9 aspect ratio Home screen overlaid onto the leaked iPhone 6 schematics.

Specifically, assuming the pixel-trippling mode and the new 1,704-by-960 resolution, the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 would have a pixel density of 416ppi – or well above Apple’s 300ppi Retina requirement and easily topping 326ppi Retina iPhones.

A 5.5-inch iPhone would yield a pixel density of 356ppi.

The increased pixel density on both new iPhones would mean even crisper images, sharper text and sharper content overall compared to the current 326ppi Retina iPhones. And if history is anything to go by, Apple will update stock apps and iOS 8 so user interface elements appear as larger versions of their counterparts on the current iPhone display, as illustrated below.

Sources apparently told Gurman that developers will be able to optimize some apps to “better utilize the larger screen area”, much like Safari and Maps take advantage of the larger canvas to render more content on the iPhone 5/5s/5c.

Furthermore, Apple is said to be working on “optimizing all graphics across iOS to fit the new 3X mode, writes Gurman.

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Despite the purported new resolution introduction, adapting existing apps to take advantage of both the larger form factor and the increased pixel count should not require a major effort. Apple now provides a robust set of tools that let developers create dynamically adapted, resolution-agnostic interfaces.

Apps that are not optimized for the iPhone 6’s new resolution mode could simply fill the entire screen by enlarging vector graphics elements. Of course, any bitmaps enlarged this way would appear blurrier unless developers add a 3x larger version to their binaries.

Apple has conveniently been working on a new ‘multi-resolution’ mode and developer toolset for future iOS devices to ease these form factor transitions.

“It is likely that developers will be provided with these tools later this year so that they can begin work on optimizing apps (if even necessary) for the new iPhone’s display,” writes the author.

It’s fairly safe to assume that Apple will phase out all non-Retina devices come this Fall, namely  the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s. This would make the iOS device lineup all Retina, meaning developers would need to provide two sets of graphics assets in their iPhone apps: one targeting the 1,136-by-640 iPhone 5/5s/5c and higher-resolution assets for the sharper 1,704-by-960 iPhone 6 screen.

Your take?