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Back in May, code strings discovered in a beta of the iOS 8 software development kit (SDK) suggested that one of the upcoming iPhone 6 models has a screen resolution of 1,704-by-960 pixels, indicating a pixel density of 416 pixels per inch (ppi).

This, in turn, would be more than comfortably above Apple’s self-imposed Retina requirement of 300ppi.

A reference to a larger 1,472-by-828 resolution has now been spotted in a file added in Xcode 6 beta 5.

This assumed resolution on a 4.7-inch device would yield Retina-class 360ppi, or 307ppi on a larger 5.5-inch panel…

The discovery was made by Mark Gurman of 9to5Mac.

As a little backgrounder, iOS since the iPhone 5/5s/5c has derived all device resolutions as multiples of the base 568-by-320 resolution, so-called “point values”.

Scale 568-by-320 horizontally and vertically by a factor of two and you get the current four-inch Retina screen topping out at 1,136-by-640 pixels.

Likewise, tripling the 568-by-320 resolution brings us up to the aforementioned 1,704-by-960 pixels — you get the picture. And as Gurman explained in his write-up, the iOS 8 SDK has added a resolution of 736-by-414 as a new starting point.

Multiply this base resolution by a factor of two and you get a new 1,472-by-828 pixel resolution canvas for your apps, media and other content.

Gurman explains:

Back to the new 414 x 736 file, this iPhone resolution would be slightly sharper (on the 4.7-inch model) than the current iPhone resolution and this new pixel density would actually bring more screen space to the iPhone, allowing Apple to unlock more software-based functionality for its flagship smartphone lineup.

Unlike with previous iPhone resolution changes, moving to 414 on the width and 736 on the length would add pixels to both the height and the width of the iPhone.

Moving from 3.5 to four inches, the iPhone 5’s screen was taller, but not wider.

Adding more color to the report, earlier today Russian luxury modified iPhone vendor Feld & Volk on its Instagram page shared a photo of a rumored 4.7-inch iPhone 6 panel, pictured under a microscope and shown below.

iPhone 6 display (microscope,  Feld and Volk 001)

MacRumors took it upon themselves to analyze the image and what they’ve discovered is interesting, to say the least.

Although  Feld & Volk itself told MacRumors that the panel does indeed carry a resolution of 1,704-by-960, the publication believes that the actual resolution is closer to the 1,472-by-828 resolution Gurman talked about.

The photograph posted by Feld & Volk does not, however, necessarily appear to agree with that claim, as it seems to show roughly 13 pixels per mm in the horizontal and vertical directions, while a 4.7-inch display at 1704 x 960 should be closer to 16 pixels per mm. The current iPhone 5s display is roughly 10.5 pixels per mm.

The two resolutions indicate Apple might launch a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 at 1,472-by-828 and a 5.5-incher at 1,704-by-960. If so, then both handsets would have pixel densities of 355-360 pixels per inch, as MacRumors points out, with the bigger iPhone packing in more pixels.

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There’s also a third possibility: Apple could use a single resolution across both iPhones, either 1,704-by-960 or the 1,472-by-828 one. The company did just that with the iPad mini’s release.

Despite packing in a smaller 7.9-inch panel, the Retina iPad mini still rocks the same 2,048-by-1,536 pixel resolution of its bigger 9.7-inch counterpart.

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Calculations via IsThisRetina.

In turn, the iPad mini has gained instant per-pixel compatibility with literally every app that has been previously released for 9.7-inch Retina iPads.

As Apple adds more devices and form factors to its family, introducing new screen resolutions is inevitable.

Luckily, Apple now provides, and has been pushing developers to use, the tools which allow for the creation of iOS user interfaces which dynamically and intelligently auto-adapt to whatever target resolution is available.

What do you think of all this?