Pixels so small…

Google have released some sort of phone. The part of it that I care about is the technology in its screen.

When the iPhone came out, it’d have been pretty rare to see anything like its high-res. LCD display. 3.5 inches with 163 pixels per inch — graphics, but text especially look better than they’ve ever on a computer screen.

But this Nexus One phone? Pretty much the same size screen but with a d.p.i. value of 252 (roundabout calculation). That’s to the iPhone resolution how the iPhone res. compares to a regular computer screen. I can’t wait to see how Optima, say, looks on this new breed of screen.


We’re almost getting to the point of rivalling low-tech print quality. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the now technical inferiority of the iPhone screen vs. the current cream of the crop. It’ll be interesting to see what June’s new iPhone (as per tradition) will bring.

Is the higher resolution actually just a gimmick? It increases processing overhead (and hence power) to display text and graphics onscreen, and 163 d.p.i. is generally pretty good — but it could be better, and the higher resolution screen will surely happen if not this year then next.

When that happens, all of the hundreds of thousands of apps that have been created for the iPhone so far use a fixed resolution. Until developers release updated versions of their apps with higher-res. graphics, will auto-scaling them be an acceptable way to display them on this larger (in terms of pixels) screen? My hunch is that since few graphic elements on the iPhone are created down to single pixels, this will be fine.

And, of course, programmatically generated graphics and all text will be automatically improved since they are (or should be, in the case of graphics) resolution independent. So let’s toast the idea of print-quality output on our screens, but regretfully mourn the loss of any chance to use the beautiful bitmap fonts of old.