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Summary:

There’s been debate over whether the next-generation iPhone’s display will grow from 3.5 inches to 4 inches. But it’s also looking more like the display will also shrink, width-wise. The WSJ says the next version of Apple’s smartphone will have a thinner screen.

iPhone 4S

There’s been a lot of discussion over whether the next-generation iPhone’s display will grow in size from 3.5 inches to 4 inches. But it’s also looking more like the display will also shrink, width-wise. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the next version of Apple’s smartphone will come with a redesigned screen that will be thinner than ever, backing up another rumor that has circulated these past few months.

Here’s why this new “in-cell” display technology, would be beneficial: The touch sensors are built directly into the display. For the phone, that means the overall display is thinner because there’s only one layer in the display instead of two. For Apple, this cuts out the cost and related logistics of sourcing and paying for two separate layers.

Combining two layers of the display isn’t the kind of technical improvement that’s easily marketable to consumers — it’s not as flashy or as obvious as a bigger screen or Retina display technology.

But if Apple were to use this new screen technology, it’ll effect the overall user experience with the iPhone in a way the company can easily sell. As my colleague Kevin Tofel pointed out when whispers about this new display making its way to the iPhone were first making the rounds, the motivation may not be necessarily to make a thinner smartphone, but is more likely about improving battery life.

A thinner display means more room inside the device. What do you do with that extra room? Possibly add in extra components, or slightly bigger components, like a longer-lasting battery. And you’ll want a more robust battery if Apple does decide to extend LTE service to its next round of phones.

  1. BackInAction Tuesday, July 17, 2012

    I’ve been test driving a Samsung Galaxy S III for the past few days. It is thin and “big”. After using it for nearly a week, holding my iphone 4S in my hand it looks like a toy. If the IP5 come even close to the same form factor (using a 4″ screen) as the S3 it will be a huge hit.

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  2. Making the phone thinner is just crazy. The current iPhone is plenty thin enough. Current iPhone users were perfectly happy with it. As crazy as it sounds….I found the original Razr to thin. You need a certain amount of phone to hold onto. Apple should have used the opportunity this new screen offers to pack more battery into the phone. Going to LTE, along with the Retina display screen, is going to suck up a lot battery life. And as time goes on, uses for smartphones increase use times….which sucks up more battery life. And its all about battery life. Believe me…I own a Razr Maxx. I would never consider a phone without at least the battery power of the Maxx. As to the screen size. The iPhone 5 is going to be at the bottom of what is currently acceptable for a smart phone. The sweet spot is around 4.5. And as users move up in screen size…they become less resistant to minor increase in screen size…year by year. There were lots of HOOTS about the size the Galaxy Note being its death knell. It proved everybody in that camp wrong. And remember its 5.3″. And depending on how much narrower the iPhone 5 is…it may still feel cramped compared to the rest of the field. Sure it will be heralded by fanbois as the “new” perfect size. But that may not sell quite as well with the rest of smartphone consumers.

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    1. Why would 4.5 be the sweet spot? Not everyone uses industrial pockets :p
      A few years back people wanted phones as small as possible, and now it seems we are returning to the brick size phone. I do hope they don’t go over 4′ (and even 4 might be pushing it) or it will be time for me to look for a different brand once it’s time to upgrade the contract.

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    2. BackInAction Tuesday, July 17, 2012

      As mentioned above, I have the GS3 on trial. It is quite thin, I always feel like it is going to snap in half. If I decide to keep the phone, I’ll get a case ASAP just to make the phone thicker.

      I love the size, but this is shorts season. I’m sure it will be too big when start wearing jeans in the fall.

      IMO, any screen size bigger than the current iPhone will be a significant improvement. I’ve never used a 4″ phone for an extended period of time, so I can’t comment on the rumored size.

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      1. How is the battery life on your GS3?? is it great or has room to improve?? As I’m thinking to buy a GS3 myself.. :)

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  3. Hopefully they improve the battery life with the new iphone, because I have the 4s and I love it but the battery doesn’t last and I love the fact that it’ll be thiner.

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  4. Can’t wait for it to come out if it’s as great as the say!

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  5. I’m waiting for all the hand wringing about it not being user servicable. As if Joe Public ever opened up their iPhones and messed around the innards. But the tech geeks have been having a field day displaying their mechanical and soldering incompetence whining about how they can’t play with the guts of Apple products.
    Agreed that there is a limit to useful thinness in a phone. I liked the switch from 3 to 4 and the square sides. Makes it much easier to hold onto. Long before the hands free regulations, I was using headsets with my Motorola Razr as it was painful to hold onto for more than a minute or two.

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