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★ Conjecture Regarding the Precise Details of the iPhone D22 Display Resolution

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Thanks to last week’s inadvertent release of an unredacted build of HomePod’s version of iOS, we know some things that we didn’t know before. One of those things is that the new edge-to-edge iPhone is codenamed D22, and that the OS explicitly supports an iPhone display with hardware resolution of 2436 × 1125 pixels.

For reference, all 4.7-inch iPhones to date (6, 6S, and 7) have a display resolution of 1334 × 750, at 326 PPI. All Plus models to date have a display resolution of 1920 × 1080, at 401 PPI. Apple publishes these numbers on the iPhone tech specs comparison page.

Back in 2014, in the lead-up prior to the announcement of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, I tried to guess the pixel dimensions of both phones:

But after giving it much thought, and a lot of tinkering in a spreadsheet, here is what I think Apple is going to do:

  • 4.7-inch display: 1334 × 750, 326 PPI @2x
  • 5.5-inch display: 2208 × 1242, 461 PPI @3x

@2x means the same “double” retina resolution that we’ve seen on all iOS devices with retina displays to date, where each virtual point in the user interface is represented by two physical pixels on the display in each dimension, horizontal and vertical. @3x means a new “triple” retina resolution, where each user interface point is represented by three display pixels. A single @2x point is a 2 × 2 square of 4 pixels; an @3x point is a 3 × 3 square of 9 pixels.

I could be wrong on either or both of these conjectured new iPhones. I derived these figures on my own, and I’ll explain my thought process below. No one who is truly “familiar with the situation” has told me a damn thing about either device. I have heard second- and third-hand stories, though, that lead me to think I’m right.

My guess about the 4.7-inch display was exactly correct. My guess about the 5.5-inch display was wrong, but my logic was right. All 5.5-inch iPhone Plus models have hardware 1920 × 1080 displays at 401 PPI, but at their default scaling (“Standard” as opposed to “Zoomed” in the Display section of Settings) they pretend to be 2208 × 1242 displays at 461 PPI, exactly as I predicted. (Actually, it’s better to think of it as 462 pixels per inch, because 462 is evenly divisible by 3, which is what you need to do convert pixels into points on an @3x retina display. So let’s use 462 henceforth. I should have thought of this back in 2014.)

iOS scales the user interface on the Plus models from the virtual resolution of 2208 × 1242 to the actual hardware resolution of 1920 × 1080 on the fly. The upside of this is that the display is less expensive and consumes less power. The downside is that the UI is not rendered pixel perfectly — the scaling uses anti-aliasing to fake it. But because the pixels are so very small, almost no one has sharp enough eyes to notice it, and because the physical resolution is so high (401 PPI), it looks sharper than the 4.7-inch displays which are running at their “true” resolution, with no scaling. But pixel-perfect “true” @3x would look even better.

Using similar logic, and considering all of the rumors and purported part leaks, I have a highly-educated guess as to the dimensions of the D22 display:

5.8 inches, 2436 × 1125, 462 PPI, true @3x retina with no scaling.

We’ve seen the numbers 2436 × 1125 before. Supply-chain rumor savant Ming-Chi Kuo suggested those numbers in a report back in February, which was summarized by both MacRumors and 9to5Mac. But what Kuo has predicted is different from what I’m suggesting. Kuo said the OLED display in this year’s new OLED iPhone will measure 5.8 inches diagonally and will have a total hardware resolution of 2800 × 1242. That’s corner to corner, the entire front face of the device, minus the bezels on the sides, top, and bottom. Within this 5.8-inch display, Kuo said there would be a 5.15-inch “display area” with resolution 2436 × 1125. The remaining area at the bottom of the display would be a “function area” (his term) where, presumably, a virtual home button would appear.

Here is the actual image from Kuo’s report, illustrating this.

I think Kuo has it wrong, and is conflating the pixel dimensions of two different iPhones. I think this year’s new flagship iPhone, D22, has a 5.8-inch 2436 × 1125 display. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kuo heard about a 2800 × 1242 display, too, but if so I think that phone is a Plus-sized version of this new form factor, with the same 462 PPI density and a size of around 6.6 inches diagonally. Such a display, with the reduced bezel design of D22, would be exactly as tall as an iPhone 7 Plus and slightly narrower. I wouldn’t be surprised if such a phone is in the pipeline for 2018.

From what I’ve seen, Kuo specified the size (5.8 inches) and the pixels (2800 × 1242), but he didn’t specify the PPI density. But given the size and the horizontal and vertical pixel counts, you can work out the PPI. Benjamin Mayo did so, and the result is 521 PPI.

A 521 PPI display doesn’t actually make sense though. I didn’t really think about this until today, but that number should have stuck out like a sore thumb back in February. Here’s the thing. It matters how big a point is, because it directly affects the real-world size of on-screen elements.

All non-Plus iPhones to date — every one of them from the original iPhone in 2007 through the iPhone 7 — has a display with 163 points per inch. In the pre-retina era, that meant 163 pixels per inch, too. Each pixel was a point, each point was a pixel. All @2x iPhone retina displays have 326 pixels per inch. Divide by 2 and you get 163 points per inch. That means that a 44-point touch target is exactly the same physical size on screen on all non-Plus iPhones. 16-point type renders at exactly the same size, and so on.

The 6/6S/7 Plus phones have a slightly lower points per inch density: take 462 (the number of pixels per inch in the scaled version of the UI), divide by 3 (because it’s an @3x retina display) and you get 154 points per inch. That’s OK, though, because fewer points per inch means that a, say, 44-point touch target will be slightly bigger on screen. 16-point type will render slightly larger, and so on. Larger tap targets are easier to hit, and larger type is easier to read. The iPhones Plus use most of their extra pixels (compared to their non-Plus siblings) to show more content on screen. But they also use them to make all content slightly larger.

A 521-PPI display doesn’t make sense because if you divide by 3 (because it’s @3x retina), you get around 174 points per inch. That’s not a huge difference, but everything would appear smaller on screen compared to an iPhone 7, and quite a bit smaller than on an iPhone 7 Plus. The only two natural pixel-per-inch densities for an @3x iPhone display are 462 PPI (154 × 3) and 489 PPI (163 × 3).

What about scaling?” you might be thinking. Couldn’t the resolution of the display be 521 PPI and Apple could make the points per inch work out by scaling the interface dynamically, like they do on the Plus models? They could, but that would be really dumb. For one thing, if it’s @3x, they’d have to scale the UI up, not down. They’d be using a smaller image to fill a bigger screen. With the Plus, they use a larger image to fill a smaller screen. Scaling down is a reasonable and interesting compromise. Scaling up would be stupid. Surely a 521-PPI display would cost more to manufacture than a 462-PPI display. So why would Apple pay more for a display and use scaling when they could pay less for a 462 PPI display on which they don’t have to do any scaling at all? It would cost less, look better, and be more efficient.


So we know that iOS 11 has support for a 2436 × 1125 iPhone display. We know that 462 PPI is the “natural” (no scaling) resolution for @3x retina on iPhone. We know that a 2436 × 1125 display with 462 PPI density would measure 5.8 inches diagonally. We know that all rumors to date about the D22 iPhone claim it has a 5.8-inch display. We know that a 5.8-inch display with a 2.17:1 aspect ratio (2436/1125), combined with 4-5mm bezels on all sides, would result in a phone whose footprint would be just slightly taller and wider than an iPhone 7. And we know that all rumors to date say that D22 is slightly bigger than an iPhone 7.

We also know that the same section of iOS 11 that specifies the 2436 × 1125 display does not mention anything about a 2800 × 1242 display. Further, that same section of iOS refers to the iPhone Plus as having a 1920 × 1080 display — this is part of the OS that deals with the actual hardware resolution of the displays, not the virtual scaled display size.

We also know that a 2800 × 1242 display would have a slightly different aspect ratio: 2.25:1. Stephen Troughton-Smith noted today with a mockup that a purported schematic of D22 made from precise blueprints, which was leaked on Twitter by Benjamin Geskin back in April of this year, shows a display that exactly matches the 2.17:1 aspect ratio of a 2436 × 1125 display. A 2800 × 1242 display doesn’t come close to fitting that schematic.

We know these things. All of these facts point to the same conclusion: D22’s display is 5.8 inches, 2436 × 1125, 462 PPI. The only reason to think otherwise is that Ming-Chi Kuo reported otherwise back in February. The simplest explanation is that Kuo got this wrong, and either he or his sources conflated the displays of two different iPhones.1


  1. It also never made sense to me how Kuo would know about the precise dimensions of a single display that would be split into separate “display” and “function” areas. That’s something that would be handled by iOS in software, not something in the hardware. Kuo’s sources seem to be exclusively or almost exclusively in the Asian supply chain. I can’t recall him ever getting a major scoop related to software. My understanding is that Apple does not even send prerelease builds of iOS to China. Instead, Apple employees fly prototype iPhones from China back to the US for testing with development builds of iOS. ↩︎

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dori
48 days ago
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Healdsburg, CA
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teko
48 days ago
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Who cares???
dori
48 days ago
The same type of people who care about unboxing videos.

Ohio Restaurant Owner Shipped A Milkshake To Terminally Ill Woman In D.C.

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There are some things we do for the people we love, and then there are the things we do out of love for people we might not even know. Like the fine folks at an Ohio restaurant who helped deliver a milkshake to a terminally ill woman in Washington, D.C., yearning for a taste of home.

A friend of the woman wrote on Facebook this week that she only wanted two things before she died of pancreatic cancer: A Cleveland Indians hat — which he brought to her hospice bed the next day — and a mocha milkshake from Tommy’s Restaurant in Cleveland, in the neighborhood where she and her friend had grown up together.

A milkshake from a few states away is not so easily procured as a hat, however. He reached out the restaurant via email and asked if they could deliver to D.C. A few days later, he received a call from the owner, Tommy himself.

“’Yes. We will figure out a way to do this,’” he recalls Tommy telling him.

Soon after, Tommy shipped the woman a mocha shake, packed in dry ice.

“I would have even driven up there if I’d had to,” Tommy told The Washington Post.

“She was thrilled,” the woman’s friend wrote. “She shared it with her family. She talked about it for days and days. She shared the story with her friends back in Cleveland and here in the D.C. area. It was something that made everyone smile.”

She passed away last week, and her friend now wants others to know about the “caring and good heartedness of Tommy at Tommy’s.”

“So, my friends, if you are in Cleveland Heights, or anywhere near there, please stop in at Coventry, order one of those incredible milkshakes and ask for Tommy (he is the one cooking in the middle of the restaurant) and say, ‘This one is for Emily. Thank you for sending one to her.’”





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dori
49 days ago
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I've got a story that's just as good:

When Tom was dying, the one thing he really wanted was a steak from his favorite restaurant… which had closed two years earlier.

A hospice volunteer tracked down the restaurant owners, who cooked him a steak — just like they'd made at their restaurant — and personally delivered it to our home.

Everyone who contributed to this is an angel, imo.
Healdsburg, CA
MaryEllenCG
48 days ago
I'm sorry for your loss.
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samuel
46 days ago
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Of course it was Tommys on Coventry. I grew up next to Tommys and took all my dates there.
The Haight in San Francisco
MaryEllenCG
48 days ago
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I'm not crying, YOU'RE crying.
Greater Bostonia

★ The Knives Come Out for Phil Schiller in Brian Merchant’s ‘The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone’

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The Verge has an exclusive (and lengthy) excerpt from Brian Merchant’s The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone, which comes out next week. Merchant seemingly has many first-hand sources on the record, including Tony Fadell and perhaps Scott Forstall. (I say “perhaps” because it’s not clear from the excerpt whether Forstall spoke to Merchant, or if Merchant got the Forstall quotes from somewhere else. It seems like there should be a lot more from Forstall in this story if he actually talked to Merchant.)

But Fadell spoke to Merchant extensively, including this shot at Phil Schiller:

The iPod phone was losing support. The executives debated which project to pursue, but Phil Schiller, Apple’s head of marketing, had an answer: Neither. He wanted a keyboard with hard buttons. The BlackBerry was arguably the first hit smartphone. It had an email client and a tiny hard keyboard. After everyone else, including Fadell, started to agree that multitouch was the way forward, Schiller became the lone holdout.

He “just sat there with his sword out every time, going, ‘No, we’ve got to have a hard keyboard. No. Hard keyboard.’ And he wouldn’t listen to reason as all of us were like, ‘No, this works now, Phil.’ And he’d say, ‘You gotta have a hard keyboard!’” Fadell says.

I don’t know if it’s true or not that Schiller was singlehandedly pushing for a Blackberry-style keyboard. But even if true, it only looks foolish in hindsight, especially if this argument took place before the iPhone’s software team had come up with a proof-of-concept software keyboard. Today it’s clear that the iPhone needed a good keyboard, and that a touchscreen keyboard can be a good keyboard. Neither of those things was obvious in 2005. And in the context of this story, it’s clear that at the time of this purported argument, Steve Jobs and Apple weren’t yet sure if the iPhone should be a pocket-sized personal computer or a consumer electronics product that would have no more need for a keyboard (hardware or software) than an iPod did. My guess is that Schiller was insisting that the iPhone needed to be a personal computer, not a mere gadget, and it wasn’t unreasonable to believe a software keyboard wouldn’t be good enough. For chrissakes there were critics who insisted that the iPhone’s software keyboard wasn’t good enough for years after the iPhone actually shipped.

I do know that Schiller’s hard-charging, brusque style and his obvious political acumen have made him a lot of enemies over the years. It sounds like Fadell is one of them.

So I’ll just say this: this story about Phil Schiller pushing for a hardware keyboard comes from one source (so far — if anyone out there can back that up, my window is always open for little birdies), and that one source is the guy who admittedly spent over a year working on iPhone prototypes with a click wheel interface.

Then there’s this:

Schiller didn’t have the same technological acumen as many of the other execs. “Phil is not a technology guy,” Brett Bilbrey, the former head of Apple’s Advanced Technology Group, says. “There were days when you had to explain things to him like a grade-school kid.” Jobs liked him, Bilbrey thinks, because he “looked at technology like middle America does, like Grandma and Grandpa did.”

Hats off to Bilbrey for putting his name on this quote, but having spoken to Schiller both on- and off-the-record many times, the idea that he “looks at technology … like Grandma and Grandpa did” and needs things explained to him “like a grade-school kid” is bullshit. Especially off-the-record, Schiller can drill down on technical details to a surprising degree. I don’t know what Schiller did to piss off Bilbrey, but Bilbrey either has a huge chip on his shoulder or was severely misquoted by Merchant.1

Anyway, I sure wish this book excerpt had come out before my live episode of The Talk Show last week — now I do have one more question I wish I’d gotten to ask Schiller.


  1. Here’s a story from Yoni Heisler for Network World on Brett Bilbrey’s retirement from Apple in 2014. Bilbrey headed Apple’s Technology Advancement Group. Merchant describes Bilbrey as having led “Apple’s Advanced Technology Group”. It’s a small detail, and the names are clearly similar, but the Advanced Technology Group was Larry Tesler’s R&D division at Apple, from 1986-1997. It was among the numerous divisions and products that Steve Jobs shitcanned after he rejoined the company. ↩︎

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dori
101 days ago
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"there were critics who insisted that the iPhone’s software keyboard wasn’t good enough for years after the iPhone actually shipped."

Me, everyday.

I still miss my BlackBerry keyboard.
Healdsburg, CA
brennen
99 days ago
Seriously. Onscreen keyboards, across the board, are just not good enough. My first generation Android with the slidey keyboard was _so much more pleasant to use_ than anything I've had since.
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Are There More Developers Than We Think?

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JavaScript's npm package manager reports 4 million users, doubling every year, leading to an interesting question from tech industry analyst James Governor: Just how many developers are there out there? GitHub is very well placed to know, given it's where (so much) of that development happens today. It has telemetry-based numbers, with their own skew of course, but based on usage rather than surveys or estimates. According to GitHub CEO Chris Wanstrath, "We see 20 million professional devs in the world as an estimate, from research companies. Well we have 21 million [active] users -- we can't have more users than the entire industry"...

If Github has 21 million active users, Wanstrath is right that current estimates of the size of the developer population must be far too low... Are we under-counting China, for example, given its firewalls? India continues to crank out developers at an astonishing rate. Meanwhile Africa is set for crazy growth too... You certainly can't just count computer science graduates or software industry employees anymore. These days you can't even be an astronomer without learning code, and that's going to be true of all scientific disciplines.

The analyst attributes the increasing number of developers to "the availability, accessibility and affordability of tools and learning," adding "It's pretty amazing to think that GitHub hit 5 million users in 2012, and is now at 20 million." As for the total number of all developers, he offers his own estimate at the end of the essay. "My wild assed guess would be more like 35 million."
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dori
116 days ago
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jepler
117 days ago
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why would github's CEO believe that each user account on github represents a professional programmer? there are huge swathes of three categories I can think of just offhand:
* students not yet in the workforce
* those programming as a hobby
* those who have github accounts just to file low-quality bug reports
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
dori
116 days ago
I also know non-programmers who have used it for collaboration on and storage of text files.
CrystalDave
116 days ago
Plus people whose workplace uses Github & they don't want to mix personal & professional accounts
jepler
116 days ago
oh yeah, I forgot I have two github accounts for that very reason.
sirshannon
109 days ago
I have 2 github accounts but prefer to use my bitbucket account.

‘This Isn’t AI’

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Terence Eden, on trying to get his Amazon Echo to respond to a custom query:

I kinda thought that Amazon would hear “solar panels” and work out the rest of the query using fancy neural network magic. Nothing could be further from the truth. The developer has to manually code every single possible permutation of the phrase that they expect to hear.

This isn’t AI. Voice interfaces are the command line. But you don’t get tab-to-complete.

Amazon allow you to test your code by typing rather than speaking. I spent a frustrating 10 minutes trying to work out why my example code didn’t work. Want to know why? I was typing “favourite” rather than the American spelling. Big Data my shiny metal arse.

A voice interface that’s as rigid as the command line can still be very useful, but he’s right — it isn’t AI. (Via Charles Arthur.)

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dori
142 days ago
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Healdsburg, CA
dori
142 days ago
Is it possible to delete comments -- especially ones created by NewsBlur bugs?
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the7roy
142 days ago
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I asked our Google home, "what's 6.5 times 3?" And got back "9.5". I asked, "what did you hear?" It answered, "6.5 x 3". It might be artificial, but it ain't intelligence.
Mountain View
jwolman
142 days ago
I just tried this and it got the answer right!
dori
142 days ago
My Echo got it right.
jhamill
142 days ago
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Nowhere on the Echo product page does AI appear.

MeJust because you want to call it something doesn't mean that's what it is.
California

Tom Negrino: 1956-2017 ↦

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Tom Negrino, longtime Apple writer and community member, passed away on March 15.

In lieu of flowers, Tom asked that donations be made to App Camp for Girls. He supported their message of gender equality in tech from the beginning.

Rest, Tom.

[Read on Six Colors.]

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dori
190 days ago
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