New theory makes a case for a larger iPhone


It’s easy to write off the recent rumors of the iPhone Plus (English translation of ‘iPhone Math’) as ‘crazy.’ After all, Apple just increased the iPhone’s screen size to 4-inches last year, why would they go to 4.9-inches now and force developers to redesign their apps again?

Well according to the latest theory to make its way around the blogosphere, they wouldn’t necessarily have to. Apple could theoretically make an iPhone with a 4.94-inch display, while keeping the iPhone 5’s resolution, and developers wouldn’t have to change a thing…

Instapaper’s Marco Arment explains the math:

“The recently rumored, larger-screened “iPhone Math”, or more likely “iPhone Plus”, is plausible as an additional model (not a replacement) alongside the 4” iPhone. And there’s a good chance that it would have a 4.94”, 16:9 screen.

The theory is easy to understand: perform John Gruber’s Mini-predicting math backwards. The iPad Mini uses iPhone 3GS-density screens at iPad resolution. What if an iPhone Plus used Retina iPad screens with iPhone 5 resolution, keeping the rest of the design sized like an iPhone 5?”

As you know, the Retina display on the iPad 3 and 4 has a resolution of 2046×1536. And in Arment’s scenario, Apple could use these same panels to cut out 4.94-inch displays. At that size, and at the iPhone 5’s 1136×640 resolution, you’d get 264 pixels-per-inch.

While this obviously makes sense from a production standpoint—Apple using panels it already makes means little to no retooling—it would be hard for Apple to position the device as Retina. And in the world of Android phones with 440ppi displays, it may not fly.

And that’s just one route Apple could take, there’s other options. But given the fact that Apple offers nearly all of its products in two sizes—13″/15″ MacBook, 21″/27″ iMac, 7.9″/9.7″ iPad, iPod touch/mini—it seems only logical that the iPhone will one day follow suit.

This whole iPhone Plus doesn’t sound so ‘crazy’ now, does it?