Explanation of the aspect ratio on mobile screens


The list of technical specifications can be very extensive when going into the detail of each section of the hardware. The user takes into account the battery, the camera or the processor. The screen is also a key element, but in addition to its size or resolution, we often hear about the “aspect ratio”, something that also includes a great deal when it comes to consuming content and interacting with our terminal. But what is this data and how is it present in the market?

Manufacturers dedicate entire sections to detail each element of our mobile. We consider some of them more or less important, but all of them they influence our final experience, including the famous screen ratio, or aspect ratio.

What is the aspect ratio?

Simply explained, the aspect ratio is the ratio of the height to the width of a screen. This parameter affects the screens of our mobiles, but also to tablets or laptops. It is a measurement that reveals how wide or high a screen is, and should not be confused with the size of the screen, which is calculated by measuring the diagonal of the panel and we see it reflected in inches.

mobile aspect ratio

Aspect ratio types

On today’s smartphones, the aspect ratio is written as proportions, where the largest figure is on the left side, while the smallest one goes on the right side. It can also be represented as a tenth, where the largest figure is divided by the smallest. In this way, for example, a 16: 9 screen (sixteen ninths) can also be said to have an aspect ratio of 1.78 or 16/9.

16: 9 ratio

It is one of the most common used in our mobiles, being a standard practically for a decade. Basically it means that the screen will have 16 pixels in one direction for every 9 pixels in the other. It has allowed the expansion in the size of the screens to respect many of the current formats and supposed a small revolution for landscape games. However, manufacturers have long ago experimented with other types of formats. In this format we find mythical terminals such as the iPhone 8, Motorola Moto Z2 Force, Google Pixel 2 or the first Razer Phone.

iPhone 8 gray

iPhone 8

18: 9 ratio

Terminals with an aspect ratio of 18: 9 were born out of the need to increase the size of the screens without the dimensions being sacrificed. In this way the height is increased (from 16 to 18) while maintaining the width (9), while at the same time the frames were reduced. This has enabled terminals with better one-handed grip, smoother multitasking and more screen space while browsing. The downside is that in some video content, there are parts that must be cut if the user wants a full-screen experience. There are also many mobiles representing this aspect ratio and which were a complete success such as the Samsung Galaxy S9, LG G6 or the OnePlus 5T. It was also present in previous generations of Samsung such as the Galaxy S8 or Note 8.

Front of the Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung Galaxy S8

19: 9 ratio

It is another of the aspect ratios, more recent and that is adopted by many brands such as Huawei, Apple or Samsung. The terminals once again increase their height, with 19 pixels in one direction for every 9 pixels in the other. As with 18: 9 terminals, those with 19: 9 ratio feature thinner or almost non-existent frames, giving more screen to interact. There are also many brands and models represented in this format, some examples we have in the Galaxy S10 or S10 Plus, OnePlus 6, Moto G7 or Nokia 7.1

Moto G7 front and rear

Motorola Moto G7

The variations

In addition, we can find variations or fragmentation of the aspect ratios that we have seen previously in the market. Thus, it is not uncommon to find screens of 18.5: 9 or 19: 5. It shouldn’t drive us crazy as they are based on 18: 9 and 19: 9 screen ratios. In this way manufacturers can play with the design and play with the “notch” in all its types. However, that is usually a headache for application developers, who have to adjust their developments to all possible variables, and sometimes they are not compatible with any specific mode. Terminals such as the Oppo Find X, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, Xiaomi Mi 9, Xiaomi Mi Mix 3, Samsung Galaxy S10e or the iPhone XS Max have these variations.

Front and rear Xiaomi Mi Mix 3

Xiaomi Mi Mix 3

New trends

In recent years we are seeing even more daring trends that play to further stretch the screens. In this sense, brands such as Samsung, Motorola, LG or Sony have launched devices with aspect ratios of 20: 9 and 21: 9. Sony for example, defends 21: 9 in its latest terminals, stating that it is the best format for playing and watching multimedia content, since many film productions were originally conceived in this format. As we say, the Japanese from Sony are one of the maximum defenders of this format, present in almost all its current range since 2019, such as the Xperia 10, 10 Plus or Xperia 1, but adopted by other brands such as Motorola and present in models such as the One Vision.

Which has your mobile

There are many ways know the aspect ratio of your mobile. It may come in the terminal box, next to the dedicated technical specifications for the display. If not, our manufacturer’s website can be a reliable way of knowing for sure. It should not be forgotten either that the MovilZona has tabs of all the models on the market, with all the details including those that affect the screen, and therefore, the aspect ratios,

There is also another method, and that is to go to the «AspectRatio» website, which allows calculating the aspect ratio of the screen at enter the resolution of our device. It also has some predefined old models to know its aspect ratio.

The future?

It is always difficult to predict the future trend of this industry. Some have already ventured to imagine How could future mobile phones with more crazy formats like 23: 9. In the conceptual images that we have just below we can get an idea. It is a mobile phone with a very stretched screen, whose practical applications are yet to be discovered, but which inevitably evokes us to a world of content where verticality prevails.

Written by David Girao

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