Auto Layout Confirms Larger iPhone 5 Screen

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A larger screen has been rumored for the upcoming iPhone 5 for the last few months now, and the rumors all seem to be in agreement that the screen will be just under 4 inches diagonally with a resolution of 640 x 1136 – similar to the current iPhone but with an additional 176 pixels added to its height.

While many of the rumors from “unnamed sources” and leaked images of dubious handsets could easily be dismissed as fakes, the rumor has gained a lot of support via information inadvertently leaked straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

At this year’s WWDC, an unfamiliar, longer iPhone was spotted sat in a car dock during a presentation being given by Scott Forstall. This device fits the same description given by earlier rumors that had suggested a larger 4 inch screen for the iPhone 5.

At WWDC, Apple also launched iOS 6 beta for developers. One of the new features added into iOS 6, which was briefly mentioned on a presentation slide, was something called “Auto Layout”. Apple did not give any information about what Auto Layout was, and it was only mentioned in passing, but many speculated that it would be a feature that would allow iOS 6 to automatically adjust content depending on screen size and resolution.

If the iPhone 5 is going to have the same 3.5 inch screen size as earlier models, this would not matter. Even if it had a sharper resolution it wouldn’t necessarily matter; while the iPhone 4 had a sharper “Retina” display compared to earlier models, it still use the same 3:2 aspect ratio, so older apps and features could easily be expanded to fit on the screen.

But the screen resolution suggested by 9to5Mac and others, 640 x 1136, has an extra 176 pixels in height, resulting in an aspect ratio of 16:9. This makes it difficult for apps to be displayed properly without some sort of software correction, such as Auto Layout. More importantly, the taller resolution means that the iPhone’s homescreen and app drawer would not be displayed correctly, with too much space in between app icons.

The solution to this problem would be to add an extra row of app icons, and apparently that is exactly what “Auto Layout” does. While experimenting with an iOS simulation, 9to5Mac changed the resolution to 640 x 1136. On iOS 5 this resulted in app icons being spaced too far apart, as mentioned earlier, but on iOS 6 an extra row of icons was added, so that icons were still spaced correctly on the screen.

What does this mean? It means that Apple has deliberately added in a feature to the latest version of iOS which will allow the homescreen to rearrange itself for different screen proportions, something it has never needed to do before as all existing iPhones have had the same 3:2 aspect ratio. This is further confirmation that Apple is planning a major change to the screen for the iPhone 5, and that it will be bigger and, more importantly, longer.

The iPhone 5 will be unveiled at an event on September 12th and released on 21st September. While it will most likely be called the iPhone 5, it could potentially be the iPhone 6, new iPhone, or even the iPhone SJ in honor of Steve Jobs.

About the Author: This post was written by Simon from Best Mobile Contracts, a leading UK mobile phone comparison website.