Apple is expected to change iPhone’s screen aspect ratio from 16:9 on iPhone 7 to 18:9 on iPhone 8, according to multiple reports. Economic Daily News said today that the device’s screen ratio will change to 18.5:9 instead of the previous 16:9.

18.5:9 accounts for the rumored curvature of iPhone 8’s OLED display: the phone’s active display area is understood to be 5.1 or 5.2 inches in the precise 18:9 aspect ratio.

Yesterday, DigiTimes said that Apple is expected to unveil a new iPhone in the second half of 2017, equipped with a 5.8-inch AMOLED panel in the—you guessed right—18:9 aspect ratio.

Aspect ratio is the relationship between the height and width of a display. In simpler terms, a 16:9 screen has 16 pixels in one direction for every 9 pixels in the other. The most common aspect ratios are 4:3, popularized by older TVs, and 16:9 found on widescreen ones.

18:9 has been popularized by the latest phones from Samsung and LG, which have screens that are taller than the 16:9 ratio used by the majority of smartphones.

Already, these new phones have prompted panel vendors to expand capacity to meet fast-growing demand for 18:9 smartphone displays.

It looks like the 18:9 screen aspect ratio is here to stay, but what’s so special about it?

Mockup of iPhone 8 with Full Vision Display, via iFanr.

For starters, the 18:9 screen aspect ratio (you could just call it a 2:1 display) results in a display that’s a little bit taller than a typical 16:9 screen. As a result, an 18:9 phone may provide a better grip than its 16:9 counterpart.

As a bonus, 18:9 is perfectly suited for Split View multitasking that Apple is expected to bring to iPhone with iOS 11. More importantly, on an 18:9 screen you can have one app on top of another in portrait mode. In the Camera app, as an example, you might be able to take a square photo on half of the screen and review it on the other half.

18:9 screens also show more content vertically so users see more of a webpage in Safari, additional images in their Instagram feed, more tweets and so forth, without scrolling.

On the downside, a majority of HD videos today are encoded in the 16:9 format and many games and apps are optimized for 16:9 on a landscape mode. If iPhone 8 will really come outfitted with an 18:9 display, all 16:9 videos will show blank space on the sides of the phone.

As Ron Amadeo of Ars Technica noted in his review of Galaxy S8, the device’s unusual aspect ratio results in pillarboxing when watching 16:9 video without zooming or stretching it.

What’s the point of having thin bezels on a phone if your 16:9 movie-watching experience suffers from blank space on the sides, you might be asking. While this is no doubt concerning, you can always double-tap to prompt iOS’s media player to zoom in the video so that it fills the entire screen, in which case parts of the video would get cropped out.

Still, 18:9 could gain momentum if filmmakers adopt it.

iPhone 8 concept courtesy of designer Gábor Balogh.

For what it’s worth, select new shows on Amazon Video and Netflix are shot in 18:9. Plus, Italian cinematographer Vittorio Storaro is pushing the new Univisum 2:1 format (or 18:9) versus the typically wider 2.20:1 aspect ratio commonly used in movie theaters nowadays.

It’s unclear, and this is important, if iPhone 8’s upgraded camera will feature a new aspect ratio that’s closer to 18:9. Take Galaxy S8’s 12-megapixel camera which shoots in 4:3 by default. But start shooting in the 18.5:9 mode and you only get 7.9-megapixel of its capabilities.

In the same vein, LG G6’s thirteen-megapixel camera offers a maximum of 8.7-megapixel capability in 18.5:9 mode, or 9.7 megapixels for 16:9 images. Only 4:3 images can be shot in the full 13-megapixel resolution.

On the other hand, as iPhone 8 is said to include an active screen area at the display’s bottom potentially designed for showing persistent on-screen controls, like Android, it’s entirely conceivably that the actual content area could be in the 16:9 aspect ratio.

Apps are likely going to need to be updated to take the full advantage of the 18:9 canvas, but having been there before we expect a relatively painless transition. Be that as it may, Apple certainly is no stranger to making an iPhone’s screen taller.

Claimed iPhone 8 case (middle) next to iPhone 7 (left) and iPhone 7 Plus case (right).

With 2012’s iPhone 5, Apple made the display a tad taller without making it wider so that users could still reach corners at the top in one-handed mode. It took developers several months to update their apps to take full advantage of the new screen format. It follows that existing apps on an 18:9 iPhone would show black bars on the top and bottom of the screen.

At any rate, Google has urged developers to work with newer 18:9 aspect ratios for their apps and Apple is expected to do the same if iPhone 8 adopts the new screen format.

In other words, expect 18:9 to quickly become the new norm for smartphones.

As we reported before, iPhone 8 should manage to squeeze a 5.8-inch AMOLED panel (with an active display area measuring 5.1 inches) inside a chassis that would be just a little bit wider and a tad taller than the existing 4.7-inch iPhones.

Hopefully, Apple will achieve this by drastically reducing or eliminating the bezels and integrating the Home button, Touch ID, the camera and sensors into the display assembly.

Fun fact: the original iPhone had a screen aspect ratio of 3:2.

iPhone 8 mockup top of post via Benjamin Geskin.

  • TwoSim
  • burge

    18:9 is spot on for a mobile phone.

    • Blip dude

      From the sound of it so far I have to agree. Obviously I haven’t used a device with an 18:9 ratio screen but I’ll welcome anything at this point except the Touch ID in the back.

      • burge

        Believe it’s Perfect. If apple do do multi app use on the screen it’s great for photos as it point shoot and see the photo with out coming out of the camera app. I doubt the home button will be on the back judging by a article on here during the week.

      • Siri Tim Cook Holness

        Touch ID Will NOT be on back

    • Siri Tim Cook Holness

      It won’t be a mobile phone any more phones r dying every 2017 flagship is too big to be a phone and is instead a phablet

  • Aviorrok

    16:9 is better than 18:9 for smartphone

    • burge

      Have you used a device with 18:9 aspect ratio ?

      • Aviorrok

        Yeah and is too much longer and hard to use with one hand

      • burge

        Hate to say this but Apple agrees with you that’s why that put Reachability on the iPhone 6 6+ 6s 6s+ 7 7s+

  • Daniel Maia

    So… 2:1

    • Norbi Whitney

      I took a while to get to it, but it’s mentioned after the first set of iPhoneX renders.

    • :D

      18:9 makes it easier to compare

      • Jean Michel

        Yes, the “I don’t need maths in real life” mantra is still strong worldwide :)))

  • So Young

    I use my iPhone a lot for watching videos (youtube, TV shows, web videos etc) so if its true then I’ll be mad and its a good reason to just stay with my 6s plus. I dont want to have black bars all over again and I’m not a big twitter/social networks fan so I dont care if I see more stuff in screen…

    I barely use split view on iPad either. I dont think tablet and phones are good for this kind of stuff, so, no, 18:9 aspect ratio is not a thing I want.

    • burge

      Apple will require developers to make their apps compatible with the 18:9 aspect ratio.

      • :D

        +burge
        But videos would still have the black bars

      • burge
      • :D

        Black bars above and below aren’t the same as black bars left and right. Have you ever tried to watch an old square video on a 16:9 display? It looks gross. Same as apps that haven’t been updated – try using an old iPhone 4 app on an iPhone 5; just doesn’t look good.

      • burge

        And when Apple tells developers they have to support the new aspect ratio, What it does is fill the sides and so fills the top and bottom and so no black bars on top or bottom.

        What your watching is a program that not in the format of 16:9. so has issues with that format.

        And Apple told app developers that any updates to apps have to support new aspect ratios so obviously the app your using hasn’t been update.

        But the most important bit is you don’t have to purchase it if you don’t want it.

      • techfreak23

        FAKE NEWS. YOU HAVE NO UNDERSTANDING OF DEALING WITH SCREEN SIZES AND ASPECT RATIOS IN APP DEVELOPMENT SO STOP ACTING LIKE YOU DO. YOU CAN’T RESIZE A DAMN VIDEO TO FIT AN ASPECT RATIO WITHOUT ZOOMING IN AND CUTTING OFF PART OF THE VIDEO OR DISTORTING THE VIDEO. YOU LITERALLY NEED TO CONVERT THE VIDEO FILE ITSELF TO FIT A NEW ASPECT RATIO WHICH ESSENTIALLY MESSES UP THE WHOLE LOOK OF THE VIDEO.

        APPLE HAS TOLD NO APP DEVELOPERS TO ACCOMMODATE THIS RUMORED ASPECT RATIO BECAUSE IT’S JUST A RUMOR! WHAT APPLE HAS TOLD DEVELOPERS IS TO MAKE THEIR APPS ABLE TO ACCOMMODATE DIFFERENT SCREEN SIZES DYNAMICALLY USING THE TOOLS THEY INTRODUCED A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO. THIS MOSTLY IS REFERRING TO APPS THAT HADN’T BEEN UPDATED SINCE BEFORE THE IPHONE 5 CAME OUT.

      • burge

        Wow your really pissed aren’t you. That didn’t take much you really have issues don’t you.

        And at no point have I said Apple have told anyone do to anything.

      • techfreak23

        I’m more irritated than pissed. I’m trying to prevent you from spreading around false information because you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

        These are literally your words from a previous comment:

        “And Apple told app developers that any updates to apps have to support new aspect ratios so obviously the app your using hasn’t been update.”
        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ed769274aa6b8286ba898d22876946d3bd372f917e5a709dd77da245ac8ee197.png

        Apple started telling developers to adopt the new layout methods after the 5 came out and began pushing them more after the 6 launched because they improved the tools.

      • burge
      • burge

        And it’s just this that has got you on this one man mission of being a

      • techfreak23

        You clearly don’t know anything about some of the changes in iOS app development ever since the 6 came out… smdh. Developers aren’t supposed to hard code object sizes or view sizes anymore because of how many different sizes of screens there are now. You really think Apple wouldn’t have given developers the tools to easily address that issue? If the developer knows what they’re doing, adding another screen size or aspect ratio won’t really affect the app.

      • burge
      • burge

        if an app is not made for a 18:9 ratio and you use it on a device that can support it and you use that app in the format of 18:9 ratio then the app will become distorted or might crop the sides off as it stretches to fit the screen.

        I’ve used a device with a 18:9 ratio and apps that are not correctly made for it are slightly stretch to fit the top and bottom. But on the device I used you have the option to use 18:9 and 16:9. All apps will need to be updated to fully utilise the aspect ratio 18:9. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d0cd683c74354fc667d888b2a11aff7d7dc50761d6866ca785db996fc365bdc3.jpg

      • techfreak23

        You’re talking about other devices on different platforms with different developer tools. Android developers used to struggle with adapting to different screen sizes and aspect ratios until recently when Google started to address that more. Apple has never had a 18:9 aspect ratio, but updated the developer tools when the iPhone 6 came out to make it easier to accommodate different screen sizes and aspect ratios. Unless you’ve developed a full iOS app yourself, you still don’t know what you are talking about…

  • Up Stream

    I hate it when screens get longer but not wider, the iPhone 5 was the same.

  • Sohail Wahab

    I hope all iPhone models come with black front so I could buy silver phone with all black front.

  • Siri Tim Cook Holness

    Smartphones r dying like every 2017 flagship is too big to be a smartphone and consifered a phablet

    • burge

      This device ( iPhone 8 ) will be smaller than the plus model iPhones in total size.

      • Siri Tim Cook Holness

        Yes but it’s display size that counts the iPhone 8 will be 5.8 inch physical display size so not a phone

      • Siri Tim Cook Holness

        And imo it’s a very stupid idea to make a physically smaller device and no larger option

  • SpideyRules

    I really sincerely hope filmmakers don’t catch on to 18:9. All (most) of our televisions are all 16:9, and I don’t want to have to update them just so I don’t have larger bars on the top and bottom…

  • CG

    “It took developers several months to update their apps to take full advantage of the new screen format. It follows that existing apps on an 18:9 iPhone would show black bars on the top and bottom of the screen.”

    Might not be the case this year, at least as much. A lot of developers use auto layout for their apps (which was actually released at WWDC 2012 in preparation for iPhone 5). So hopefully there won’t be many cropped apps.