Is the iPhone XR 1080p resolution

Not even 720p? Why the iPhone XR has such a strange resolution

Stephan Wiesend

The screen of the iPhone XR has a resolution of 1792 x 828 pixels, a figure that needs some explanation.

EnlargeIn the iPhone simulator you can see how the screen contents of the iPhone XS, XR and XS Max differ.

For many Android fans, the verdict was quickly clear: “That can't even do 720p!” Such a hateful comment on the new iPhone XR. Not entirely fair, the resolution of the XR is actually significantly higher than the old TV format 1280x720. But some iPhone fans were irritated: Compared to current androids, a resolution of 1792 x 828 pixels seems a bit low, and the numbers also seem strangely "crooked". Especially next to the other two iPhones, the new iPhone looked a bit poorly equipped despite the euphoric presentation by Phil Schiller. Shortly after the keynote, however, many visitors were surprised that at first glance there were hardly any differences between the three iPhone screens - no wonder: the iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR even show the same screen content. The explanation was immediately clear to experienced developers, but the background is a bit more complex:

Why can't you see more screen content on the iPhone XS Max than on the XR?

If you compare a website or an app view on the iPhone XS and iPhone XR, you will see the same content on both devices - but everything is slightly larger on the XS Max thanks to the larger screen. Despite the different sizes of 6.5-inch and 6.1-inch screens, you have the same amount of text and the same number of table cells in front of you. Surprisingly, you can see even more content on the XR than on the more expensive XS. The reason is Apple's concept of retina display:

In order to achieve optimal image quality, screen contents on an iPhone are not displayed pixel by pixel as on a standard TFT, but scaled like on a retina screen of a Macbook. In principle, you can see as much screen content on an iPhone XR as you would see on a monitor with a resolution of 896 x 414. However, all the data would look very pixelated, which is why the XR screen's resolution of 1792 x 828, which is twice as high, ensures smooth lines and razor-sharp writing. The "crooked" numbers are no coincidence: The iPhone XS Max also offers a multiple of the resolution 896 x 1242. However, the scaling factor here is 3, which enables an even better or higher resolution display despite the larger screen.

This becomes clear with the specification ppi, the unit of measurement for pixel density: While the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max achieve 458 ppi, the iPhone XR has 326 ppi - exactly like the iPhone 6, iPhone 7 and iPhone 8. The iPad Pro does yes even only 264ppi.

Why a strange resolution like 1792 x 828?

The "crooked" resolution is not new, the iPhone 8 also uses a customized resolution of 1334 x 750. Android phones usually offer a very high resolution of up to 4K, but Apple is noticeably reluctant. There are good reasons for this, more important than high numbers for Apple are obviously a good combination of image quality, scalability and power consumption - but presumably also costs.

Another reason for the resolution is probably ergonomics: the classic 16: 9 aspect ratio offers a resolution of 1920 x 1080 - the display is therefore relatively wide. For the iPhone X and its successors, Apple uses the 19.5: 9 page format: This makes for a slim mobile phone that lies comfortably in the hand. Many other cell phone manufacturers are also following this trend. Especially due to the introduction of frameless displays, there are hardly any high-end mobile phones in 16: 9 or 16:10 format.

What is the point of a low resolution?

A low-resolution screen is likely to be cheaper than a high-resolution screen, but it also appears to have lower power consumption. If you compare the battery life of the iPhone XR with that of the iPhone XS and XS Max, you will notice that the battery of the iPhone XR obviously lasts longer. Apparently the new screen is quite efficient and Apple only has to install 3 GB of RAM instead of 4 GB. Also a cost and power consumption factor.

Does the low resolution have any disadvantages?

We would wait for extensive testing to find the answer to this question. In our estimation, however, this will depend on the application: Most users will not notice any difference between 2-fold and 3-fold scaling, especially for tasks such as surfing or social media. The difference is roughly the same as that between the iPhone 8 and iPhone X and there have never been any complaints from iPhone 8 users.

But things looked different with the iPhone X away from the office and social media: the differences in photos, videos and games are big. Upcoming VR and AR applications should also benefit from high resolution. Even with these tasks, an even greater difference will be due to the different screen technologies: An OLED display has far better contrast values ​​and a photo or current blockbuster will look much better on the Max - regardless of the resolution.

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