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The taller 18:9 aspect ratio screens on smartphones are a big item this year as just about every manufacturer adopts this new format. What this means is that those looking for the older 16:9 screen format will have fewer choices. So, what’s the big deal with an 18:9 screen aspect ratio smartphone anyway?
The Difference Between a 16:9 and 18:9 Screen Aspect Ratio Smartphone
Starting from the basics, what is the screen aspect ratio on a smartphone? Screen aspect ratio is the display screen’s height relative to its width. In the past, most smartphones had a standard 16:9 aspect ratio – if this sounds familiar, most widescreen videos follow the same format.
Note that screen aspect ratio is not the same as display size, which is measured diagonally across the device’s screen. Most smartphones today feature display sizes from 5.5 inches to 6 inches. Smartphone manufacturers adjust screen aspect ratio to increase display area without increasing a phone’s size to a point that it becomes inconvenient.
Why Smartphones Use the New 18:9 Ratio
Smartphone manufacturers are increasingly switching over to the new aspect ratio and moving away from the traditional ratio for several reasons. It makes sense for TVs to stick to 16:9 aspect ratio since most video content is horizontally produced. On the other hand, most of the content you consume on a smartphone is vertical.
In fact, people are now so used to scrolling on their devices that it has become second nature. However, smartphones are getting bigger while hands are still the same size. Anything larger than 5.5 inches with a 16:9 ratio is actually difficult to hold in one hand.
The modern average phone size is 5.5 inches so a few things had to change. For starters, smartphone bezels gradually decreased, meaning screens could be larger without getting larger in width. The other thing to change is the phone aspect ratio.
To get a better idea of the 18:9 aspect ratio, imagine the traditional smartphone squashed at the sides so it becomes longer and thinner. It is now possible to grip it with one hand while still enjoying the same display real-estate amount.
With this thinner ratio, smartphones can now push the display size even further. In fact, some phones have a large 6-inch display that is only 1mm wider than older 5.5-inch phones.
With smartphone technology advancing, not only are the display bezels shrinking, but also areas at the top and bottom of phones have started disappearing. Overall, modern phones have stayed the same with displays becoming bigger.
Soon fingerprint readers are set to move behind the display as smartphones gear for 100% screen-to-body ratios. In fact, the tri-bezel-less trend is running strong.
The Benefits of the 18:9 Ratio
An 18:9 screen aspect ratio smartphone is skinnier and taller than what you might be used to. However, the few changes offer users some big benefits.
1. Big display on a small size
An 18:9 screen aspect ratio smartphone offers you a taller screen featuring slimmer bezels at the sides, top, and bottom. This means you get a large 6-inch screen with overall dimensions similar to a 16:9 aspect 5.5-inch screen.
A new 5.7-inch screen phone is about as big as the standard 5.2-inch phone. Similarly, the new phone with a 5.5-inch 18:9 screen has the same overall size of a 5-inch phone. If you have smaller hands, you can easily carry a big screen device with an 18:9 screen.
2. Better multitasking
Android 7.0 and above phones have a built-in split-screen feature. The split screen allows you to open two apps at the same time, side-by-side on the same screen for easy use. Some phones even allow you to copy and paste information from one open app to another open app.
Fortunately, the 18:9 screen is twice as tall as it’s wide. This allows you to split the screen into two perfect halves for every app in split screen mode.
3. Improved content consumption
Most websites and apps are designed for vertical scrolling on a screen. An 18:9 aspect ratio smartphone allows you to view more content in one frame, meaning less scrolling and a better content consumption experience. Such smartphones are especially great if you regularly use your phone for reading e-books or long articles.
4. Virtual reality optimized
An 18:9 screen aspect ratio smartphone is ideal for use with Virtual Reality (VR) headsets. When using your VR set, the phone display is split in half for side-by-side viewing. The screen offers you a superior VR experience due to more screen estate for every eye.
Your left eye views the left side of the screen, while the right eye sees content on the right side. This arrangement means that you get more content in a frame compared to the 16:9 screen when using VR.
Negatives of an 18:9 Aspect Ratio Display
For vertical apps and web browsing, this aspect ratio is great. Unfortunately, you’ll quickly realize that most videos available are made for the 16:9 format.
While watching the 16:9 videos you’ll see black bars on the side, and you will likely cut off parts of the footage if you zoom in. OLED screen smartphones can somehow hide the bars, but the black bands will likely be distracting on cheaper LED display smartphones.
Should You Get an 18:9 Aspect Ratio Mobile?
It doesn’t matter whether you have small or big hands. However, if you can comfortably hold a 5.2-inch, 16:9 smartphone in one hand, you can easily hold a 5.7-inch, 18:9 phone with identical bezels.
In other words, this aspect ratio offers you more display room in the same width. Furthermore, more and more smartphones are vertically shrinking, a win-win situation all around!
If you are not often using your phone in landscape mode, then you will love the new 18:9 aspect ratio experience. However, if you spend most of your time watching videos, go to your local store, check out an 18:9 screen aspect ratio smartphone device, and see if it works for you.
These screens seem to have been received well by the public. Check out the advantages and disadvantages above and decide if this is the smartphone for you.