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Trends in Tech: Why is my smartphone getting ‘taller’?
March 20, 2017

We examine the new 18:9 aspect ratio debuting with this year’s flagships.

The introduction of the LG G6 and even the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S8, we’re seeing a new trend being introduced on new smartphone flagships – taller screens. This new trend, which manufacturers dub as the 18:9 aspect ratio (the Samsung S8 will use an 18.5:9) offers a bigger display that can accommodate two perfect squares placed on top of each other. Rumors also suggest that Apple is also looking into brining that same concept to the iPhone this year.

Smartphone screens have started with small 2 to 3.5-inch displays that managed to get the job done – but as apps and other types of media get more complex and as users start using mobile devices instead of computers, the need for bigger displays was always there.

That is why smartphone screens started to arrive in various bigger sizes. Samsung famously initiated that trend with the launch of the first Galaxy Note that introduced a larger screen while maintaining the same 16:9 aspect ratio. The 16:9 aspect ratio was followed so it closely resembles a miniature version of an HDTV – meaning that watching widescreen videos will fit well with the screen size.

We can compare the recently released HTC U Ultra and the LG G6, both of which offers a 5.7-inch screen. But when you place it side-to-side, the HTC U Ultra looks bigger. It’s simply explained that the HTC U Ultra has more screen estate whereas the LG G6 simply follows the new 18:9 aspect ratio meaning that it’s ‘taller’.

But how does this exactly benefit the user? The taller screen means that you have more space to see more lines in your email or see more of the website when you browse it. Additionally, the taller display means that you have a wider aspect ratio when viewed in landscape mode. This easily lets you view two columns of a certain app like an email, much like how Apple has implemented iOS to do the same on the iPhone 7 Plus. It’s a simple upgrade, but beneficial to the user.

With that advantage also comes another disadvantage. First is that with the taller screen, manufacturers had to redesign the software that runs on it, updating the core OS and some of its apps to fill the extra space – but with that, other apps would also need to be updated. A good example of this is when Apple shifted to a taller 4-inch screen for the iPhone 5, nearly all the apps would need to be updated to fit the extra display space. It’s not necessarily a hindrance, but updating all available apps would take time, meaning you will have extra black bars on your display when you use a non-updated app.

In reality when these smartphones come into the market, users would hardly care about the new aspect ratio but just in case you noticed why smartphones have gotten taller, then this is your explanation.

by vportiz

Tech Enthusiast and Movie Buff. Has passion for all things tech – you’ll normally find him tinkering with the latest gadgets and computer peripherals. He is an avid collector of DVDs and Blu-ray discs, and recently discovered his love for gaming. Follow him on Twitter at @vp_ortiz17