For several years Apple was the industry leader for display technology innovations and managed to bring these advancements regularly to the consumer market. It was the first company to release a smartphone with a pixel density greater than 300 ppi, and it was the first company to release a tablet with a QXGA (2048 x 1536) resolution. However recently Apple has been falling behind and the latest iterations of the iPhone are still using the same displays found in the 2012 versions of the device, while the new iterations of devices from companies like Samsung and LG have always improved on the display technology. The iPhone’s 4 inch, 640 x 1,136 pixels, 326 ppi display has been superseded by higher resolution displays used in the current flagship Android smartphones.
If a consumer has invested heavily in Apple’s ecosystem they are often reluctant to change smartphone platform due to the money already spent on apps, books and media. Since Apple doesn’t offer a wide range of devices for different needs and price points, Apple consumers are stuck with whatever Apple releases, regardless of whether they like the new iteration or not, they have little choice. This can lead to Apple’s customers passionately defending the company’s design choices while simultaneously saying that next year’s model will be better!
A recent report by a TFT and LCD market expert has suggested that Apple’s iPhone 6 will feature a bigger display. According to research performed into the supply chain which manufactures Apple’s displays, the Cupertino company is looking to release two versions of the iPhone 6, one with a 4.7 inch display and one with a 5.7 inch display. The 4.7 inch variant is purported to have a 1280 x 720 screen, while the 5.7 inch version goes HD with a 1920 x 1080 resolution.
If this report is right then it means that Apple is finally agreeing with the Android community in that a 4 inch, sub 720p display isn’t enough. In other words Apple will be eating humble pie. However the geniuses in its marketing department will probably spin it in such a way that consumers won’t notice. Larger screen Android phones are extremely popular and Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and S4 probably sold more than 70 million units between them while Samsung’s Note range has chalked up over 38 million units sold. The iPhone has also sold very well but Apple has rigidly stuck to its smaller form factor ignoring the clear demands of consumers for larger displays.
The original iPhone had a 3.5 inch display which remained the form factor for all iPhones up to the iPhone 5 which, in 2012, added the extra half an inch. Conversely Samsung already had a 4.3 inch smartphone (albeit with a lower screen resolution) in the S2 which was unveiled in February 2011. The Galaxy S3 was launched with a 720p, 4.7 inch screen several months before Apple released the iPhone 5 with its 4 inch display. Since then the demand for HD displays has been growing and if Apple releases a 4.7 inch smartphone with a 720p display in Q4 2014 then the company will finally offer its customers something that Android manufacturers have been offering since 2012. Only two years behind!
If Apple releases a 4.7 inch smartphone with a 720p display in Q4 2014, the company will finally offer its customers something that Android manufacturers have been offering since 2012.
Although Apple has managed to innovate successfully in other areas of its smartphone design, for example the 64-bit A7 processor is very cool, it seems to have struggled with the form factor and display, are the design decisions of the late Steve Jobs still haunting the company? Only time will tell.