Why the iPhone 5 screen will not be bigger, unless…

Everybody seems to think that the iPhone 5’s screen is finally going to bigger, larger, and better. I’m not so sure. “Why?”, you ask? Good question.

Reason 1: Retina Resolution

If Apple would make the screen bigger and keep the same resolution (see reason 2), it would no longer be a retina display. Retina means (according to Apple) that the resolution is so high, that at a certain distance the human eye cannot perceive any further detail, and therefore a higher resolution is useless. Apple says that we on average hold our smartphones at about 30 cm (12 inches) from our eyes. That seems a bit close to me, but holding it further only makes the retina display better,so no worries. With the current retina display (960×640 and 3,5 inch) two pixels are about 1/60 of a degree apart at 30 cm distance. This corresponds to someone with a 20/20 vision.

Suppose that the iPhone 5 has a 4 inch display at the same resolution. Now, unless Apple tells us to hold our iPhone 5s further away from our faces, it would no longer be retina resolution.  Two pixels would then be 1/50 of a degree apart at 30 cm. Not good. Not what Apple would want to advertise.

Unless the resolution is higher, of course. Which brings us to reason 2.

Reason 2: App Compatibility

Apple has been very careful at keeping their devices compatible with the existing apps from the App Store. Even an iPad can run all iPhone apps. Creating a phone with a higher resolution is useless unless the display is bigger (see reason 1). But making the resolution higher will break backwards compatibility will older iPhones (like the iPhone 4S). If a developer writes an app for a higher resolution, it will not work on any older iPhone, because they simply wouldn’t fit on the screen. Of course, older apps would work on the iPhone 5, perhaps with a black border around them. Yuck!

This makes it very unlikely that the iPhone 5 will have a higher resolution and hence, a bigger screen.

Unless… unless the screen has another form factor. Maybe it has the same width and it just becomes longer. The resolution could then be something like 1120×640. The extra 160 pixels at the bottom or the top of the screen can then be used for soft buttons, maybe to replace the home button. Of course, the usable area of the screen would otherwise be the same, so you can hardly call this a “bigger screen” in the sense that most people expect it. Knowing Apple, this would not surprise me.

Reason 3: Pocket Size

This may after all be the most important reason the iPhone 5 will not get a bigger display: the iPhone 5 will not be bigger and heavier than the iPhone 4S. Apple has a history to make everything smaller and lighter (with the notable exception of the new iPad). I, for one, would not want a brick in my pocket. The current iPhone is big enough as it is. It’s not really a compact device, although most of us are used to the size by now. A bigger screen, means a bigger phone, means less portable, means less likely to come into existence. Simple as that.


The iPhone 5 (or however it will be called) will not have a bigger display and will not have a higher resolution.

Except in one particular case, where the iPhone 5 gets a slightly longer display, with a higher vertical resolution to replace the home button (and maybe add some other soft buttons). This could actually make the iPhone 5 more compact, so I’m all for it.

Let’s wait and see. What do you think? Comments are welcome.




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Tribute to Dennis Ritchie: Rest in Peace dmr

I’m a bit underwhelmed by the lack of response to Dennis Ritchie’s death among my developer friends and colleagues. It’s understandable that the average person doesn’t realize that he wouldn’t have a pc (Windows, Mac or Linux, doesn’t matter), mobile phone, GPS, modern TV or washing machine, and very likely no internet if Ritchie hadn’t invented C. But IT people, and especially developers, who owe Ritchie their career should show the utmost respect. Most modern-day programming languages are based on C: Objective C, C#, Java, PHP, you name it. Would you really want to be programming in Pascal, Basic or – good heavens! – COBOL for the rest of your career? Would you even have been an IT person?

This guy has done more for the world than Steve Jobs and Bill Gates added together and multiplied by a hexillion. That fact that he, contrary to the previously mentioned gentlemen, didn’t do it for money or fame makes him all the greater. We salute you, Dennis. Respect.

Review: AppAdvice

Review date: 16 August 2010 – AppAdvice (universal app for iPhone and iPad)

Every day hundreds of new apps get added to Apple’s App Store. There’s no way that any sane human being can stay on top of what’s funky and what sucks. Let alone that you would be able to figure out which cool apps are on sale. Enter AppAdvice.

It is originally a website (a blog, actually) run by a bunch of nerds with too much time on their hands (this is just an educated guess without solid evidence, I must admit). They filter through all the apps added to the App Store daily and pick out the gems. Next to that, they keep track of which interesting apps are on sale (because there’s a bunch of crap on sale every day, which you wouldn’t even want near your iDevice even if they give you a free bride to go with it). Since the AppAdvice guys don’t seem to spend too much quality time with their girlfriends (or boyfriends, should it be so), they do even more than that. They make podcast, collect news, and make several different lists out of the daily new offers on the App Store. All free, just for you! Or rather, all for the people who bought the app, because it is not for free. It is worth the full 1,59 Euro they charge for it, though. Imagine that you discover one-of-the-games-you’ve-always-wanted-but-never-bought-because-you-didn’t-think-it-was-worth-8-bucks, for sale for less than a dollar! You’d have earned the price of the AppAdvice app back with a single purchase! And those things do happen, believe me. I bought N.O.V.A. that way. Good stuff. And if you want the same info for free, you can always use their website AppAdvice.com. But there’s something cool about this app. It simply aggregates all data in a neat newspaper-style view that lets you see what’s new in a glance.

The iPad version shows an infinitely scrollable list of articles. In landscape mode there’s a list of “Featured” articles on the right hand side. It’s not clear who features them nor why they are featured. Anyhow, this perfectly does the trick for me. No need for extra complication. But hey, the iPhone app looks totally different! It has categories and a search box! What’s up with that? It seems that the iPhone features will be added to a later version of the iPad app. At the moment all you can do is to set a filter in the AppAdvice Settings icon to view iPhone or iPad articles only. The app is Universal, by the way. When you buy it you can use it on all iDevices you own. The only other setting is the possibility to select the country of your iTunes Store, which is also a cool feature missing from many app sales apps (I apologize for the confusing terminology). It offers the option to automatically detect your App Store country when the app first starts, but you can override it later if you like.

I hope that the AppAdvice team smartly integrates the iPhone features on the iPad in a future version. I mean that they should keep the current view as a default, but allow you to filter the categories on the fly. The iPhone version requires too much navigation to use from your lazy chair. The subzero feel of the iPad version definitely has my preference, although it misses the search and other features.

I’ll end this review with a summary of the information that you can find in the AppAdvice app. Remember, the iPhone app shows this in separate blocks, while the iPad shows a neat (but unfiltered) newspaper view. I like bullet lists, so here goes.

  • AppNews
    Regular iPhone and iPad news as you can find it on a million other web sites. Nothing spectacular, but it’s nice that you’re kept in the loop.
  • AppGuides
    These are lists of the best apps for a certain task. Handy to help you find what to install when you just bought your device or when you have a bunch of junk which you want to replace with good stuff. There are apps for cooking, apps for dating, apps to tune your guitar, and so on. All AppGuides are divided in Essential, Notable, Decent and “Beyond”, which is probably not where you want to go, unless you want some very specific feature.
  • AppLists
    This is very similar to the AppGuides. In fact, I’m not quite sure why these two exist separately. Maybe I should ask the friendly guys at AppDevice.com? Anyway, who cares. This function has more lists of apps in categories such as “Photographer’s Kit” and “Apps for Depression” (I would’ve expected “Apps against Depression”, but everybody can have their own fancy, right?) These lists are divided In Paid and Free apps.
  • AppReviews
    Each day a couple of apps get reviewed. Obviously, these reviews are in no way comparable with the magnificent type of review you’re reading now, for example.  Chaos Reviews rules!
  • Appisodes
    These are video podcasts which highlight the most important entries of the day. Presented by a girl, because boys are more likely to watch it since they, supposedly, like girls, and girls are more likely to watch it since it promotes girl power. Whatever. You can also win stuff. Maybe only when you live in the USA, I didn’t check that yet.
  • AppMovers
    A list of apps for which sales have gone up. Other than the regular categories, there are no filters in this list.
  • NewApps
    A simple categorized list of newcomers in the App Store. The list can be filtered by Paid, Free, and Noteworthy newcomers.
  • AppUpdates
    The same type of list, but this time for updated apps.
  • AppSales
    A very interesting list which shows which apps have gone on sales, which have gone free and which ones you certainly shouldn’t miss. Whether the apps are useful for you depends on your personal preference of course. Note that most of these price drops are temporary and sometimes only last a single day.

AppAdvice is a great app. Strangely even greater on the iPad then on the iPhone, despite the lacking features. Highly recommended.

We found this agreeable:

  • Super simple user-interface on iPad
  • Find cool apps
  • Find cheap or free apps
  • iPhone version has more features

We did not appreciate this:

  • No customization on the iPad
  • Too much navigation required on iPhone
  • Not a free app, while the website is free (they could make an ad-supported version)

Review Score: 4 Chaos Stars (out of 5, if you’re wondering)

Reviewed version: 1.0.1

Category: News

Get it in the App Store:  http://itunes.apple.com/be/artist/appadvice-com/id305663481

Price at time of review: 1,59 Euro (1.99 USD)


Below: the iPhone splash screen

Below: the iPhone main menu

Below: the iPad view in landscape mode

Below: the iPad view in portrait mode

Other reviews of AppAdvice:

If you also have a review or know of another review of this app, please let me know and I’ll happily add the link to this list. Thank you.

ps: This is our first review. If it comes across chaotic, er… Well, I guess it’s somehow supposed to be. Leave a comment if you like.

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Welcome, friends!

Welcome to Chaos Reviews, my friends. This site provides fun, somewhat chaotic, and possibly interesting reviews of software, hardware, games, apps and fun stuff in general. There’s no limit to what we review, as long as we think it’s cool. We hope you think our junk is cool as well!