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Let's put to rest any doubt Apple can't innovate

Scot Finnie | Sept. 25, 2017
The upcoming iPhone X adds screen size, resolution and pixels per inch in a package that’s 18% smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus.

iphone x notch
Credit: Apple 

Wall Street, Wall Street. Doesn't the world have enough to worry about?

You can stop worrying about Apple. If you didn't know it before the company’s Sept. 12 hardware announcements, you should know now that Apple was not a one-man band before Steve Jobs died in 2011. It may have lost a little of Jobs’ showmanship, but Apple's powerhouse design teams are still hard at work – and doing just fine, thank you.

To wit: The Apple design team significantly boosted pixels per inch (the specification that determines whether a display is marketed as a Retina display), resolution and screen area on the iPhone X compared to the iPhone 8 Plus. At the same time, Apple made the iPhone X's overall size almost 18% smaller than the 8 Plus. You don't make that kind of technological advance in opposing directions if you're just banging one out for the bottom line.

While Samsung is hawking its latest smartphone as bigger and better, Apple is doing its level best to shrink the physical form factor to as close to the ideal – the iPhone 8 – as possible. This should come as no surprise. It was roughly around the time of the iPhone 5 that some Apple smartphone customers began agitating for iPhones with larger screens. The response from Apple was that it didn't want to build something that was wider than would be comfortable in the hands of its customers. The truth is, Apple has long preferred a smaller slimmer design for the iPhone. The appearance of the Plus-size models was Apple's way of segmenting the market, its acknowledgment that some people prefer larger displays on their smartphones.

I am one of those people. For me, the 6S Plus, the phone I'm currently using, isn't wide enough. Although it’s a vast improvement over the 5/5S in size, both phones make me feel like I'm looking through a keyhole. Clearly, the 5 and 5S were even worse in this regard.


The quest for a wider phone

The question I keep wondering is: Does the iPhone X effectively widen the iPhone's screen? It’s a complex little problem because Apple made numerous changes. Let's start with the physical. (I'm comparing sizes using millimeters because I think they are easier to understand than fractions or hundreds of an inch; for perspective, there are about 25mm in an inch.) The iPhone X is roughly 5 mm longer than the iPhone 8 and 15 mm shorter than the iPhone 8 Plus. The iPhone X is roughly 3.5 mm wider than the iPhone 8 and 7 mm narrower than the iPhone 8 Plus. So you can see, the iPhone X is physically much closer in size to the iPhone 8 than to the iPhone 8 Plus.


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