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June 25th 2012 12:54 pm

RIM: Please don't release a phone with a 720 x 720 resolution

I'll preface this by saying I am a fan of RIM, even in today's dark ages for them. My primary phone is a BlackBerry and I still have justifiable reasons for staying with them. I totally understand why most people use iPhones and Android devices though.

Rumours today (links at bottom) point to two BlackBerry 10 devices on the horizon. There is the device that is similar to the BlackBerry Dev Alpha with 1280 x 768 resolution at a "retina" 356ppi, and a traditional keyboard based device with a 720 x 720 resolution at a "retina" 330ppi. It is also an OLED screen.

BlackBerry OS10 looks impressive. The "flow" concept behind it looks really smooth so far. I still wait to hold final judgement on the OS, because we havent seen even a beta at this point.

My issue with this second leaked phone is that the screen is effectively a square. The aspect ratio is 1:1. Now BB OS10 may be suited to utilize this resolution and make it look great, but nothing else is.

Videos will have terrible letterboxing, and websites may get confused (unless the css is written properly). Although I don't have actual numbers, I am sure that square screens make up less than 1% of any devices period. We have seen 4:3, 16:9, 16:10, and a few others. However nothing is optimized for a square screen. Maybe a postage stamp is, but not much else.

I love the underdogs. I hope RIM (and Nokia, and used to hope HP/Palm) can make a comeback. However if I decide to give OS10 a go, it will definitely be on the L-series full touchscreen. I feel a square screen may put people off unless it is done extremely well. I am not sure I have that faith anymore though.

So RIM, please be careful. I hope you know what you are doing.




EDIT: As a reader pointed out, when you take a look at the Dev Alpha device and cut out the software keyboard section, the remaining size of the display is a square as well. Coincidence?

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720×720 has 330 PPI, that means it has approx 3.1" diagonal screen, which most means it is not a square 1:1, following are my calculations for 3.1" at different aspect ratios

Resoultion PPI Diagonal Ratio Height in Inches Width in Inches
720×720 330 3.1 16:10 1.6 2.6
720×720 330 3.1 16:09 1.5 2.7
720×720 330 3.1 4:03 1.9 2.5
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Your math is indeed correct. However it does not change the fact that the pixel ratio is 1:1

There would be some MASSIVE stretching between the pixels if they stretched 720 pixels across 2.7 inches horizontally and only 1.5 inches vertically. That is the extreme example, but anything that isn't 1:1 will have this stretch. Your math assumes independent horizontal and vertical DPI then, which causes this stretch.

There is a big difference between seeing a picture in those different aspect ratios and I will prove my point using pictures.

Here is a 720 by 720 image I have. (Blown up for effect)

Aspect ratio is 1:1

Aspect ratio is 16:10

Aspect ratio is 16:9

Aspect ratio is 4:3

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thanks, that makes sense, now what I think is that they mostly might end up doing a 1:1 as you have pointed and have a dedicated action bar at the bottom but it is something interesting which I would like to wait see since all the majors platforms like WP, Android failed to integrate a good QWERTY keyboard with a better touch experience
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