An aspect ratio can be defined as the ratio of the height to the width of a rectangular display. Since smartphones have a rectangular form factor, aspect ratio on smartphones can be defined as how tall the display is.

Aspect ratio is gotten by dividing the height of a screen by the width. Aspect ratio is usually written in a ratio format with height first and width second i.e. height:width.

So if a screen was 12cm tall (height) and 9cm wide (width), the aspect ratio can be gotten by dividing both numbers with a common denominator. This is done until they are no longer divisible by the same common denominator.

12/9 (divide both numbers by 3) = 4/3

There is not a common denominator that can divide both 4 and 3.

This means that a screen that is 12cm in height and 9cm in length has an aspect ratio of 4 by 3 or 4:3.

In the early days of smartphones, when a lot of people were still making the leap from devices with buttons to the touch screens of iPhones and Androids, especially Androids. Smartphones had huge bezels and those navigation buttons that helped you find your around the phone. Then most phones had a 4:3 display.

Read: Smartphone displays

Samsung Galaxy Mini (2011)

The smartphone era did take off and smartphones went into full gear. As more content was made for smartphones, consumers started demanding for larger displays. This was in order to enjoy content better and the smartphone companies obliged.

Screens began to get longer and taller and that is the norm today. Nowadays though, taller screens seem to be more of an aesthetic or fashion statement than anything else.

Types of Aspect ratios

The major aspect ratio in use on smartphones right now are: 16:9, 18:9, 19:9 and 19.5:9.

That being said, 20:9 is fast becoming the norm these days as screens are growing taller and taller.

Modern smartphone companies are trying really hard to eliminate bezels. This is so that the user can have the entire face of the smartphone for their personal viewing consumption.

Aspect ratio on smartphones (4:3)

An iPhone 3GS compared with a modern Redmi Note 9 Pro. Notice the minimal bezels on the more modern device?


(image credits: GSMArena)

The craze for taller displays has led to a lot of innovations designed to create more screen space. These include the notch (wide, infinity, V and teardrop), pop-up and slide-up cameras as well as under display cameras. All of these are designed to provide smartphone users with more screen real estate and very little obstructions.

It is important to note that some smartphone users are calling for a return back to the 4:3 days when smartphones fit snugly into hands. That ship seems to have sailed. This new tall bezel-less era has come to stay.

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    1. Bezels are the dark colored parts of screens on old Smartphones.

      These days they’re can no longer be found as manufacturers are giving more and more real screen estate to the users.

  1. To be honest, I couldn’t care less about the new «crap» format of smartphones; in fact, I profoundly dislike it.

    The fact that manufacturers have moved to smartphones which maximize the display surface to device surface ratio or “screen to body ratio”, as it is usually called, DOES NOT MEAN that smartphones are better in any way.

    Newer bezel-less smartphones, besides being overall bigger, have grown a lot taller but barely any wider, mostly eliminating the bezels or screen frames. This results in no space for cameras, sensors, buttons… ¡nothing! It also means that when using a smartphone in landscape, as I mostly do, there’s no space left to type comfortably on an screen keyboard using your thumbs, as when you have to press keys all the way to the left or right there’s simply no space to fit the fingers (ouch!); and when you hold the smartphone in portrait with one hand, you have to be careful not to touch the screen with the hand you are holding it, and also due to no bezels its more complicated to cleanly hit a key at the sides without hitting your own device holding fingers.

    On top of this, the very elongated aspect ratios means very little screen height when in landscape, which is a BIG NO in an era of stupid webpages with stuck navigation or search bars on screen for no good reason. SUCKS!!!

    Let me have a smartphone with a rectangular 8:5/16:10 ratio screen and bezels, or even 4:3!; thank you.

    So, the price paid for extremely high screen to body ratios is HUGE, and overall I think that, ergonomics wise, newer smartphones are a COMPLETE SUPER FAILURE; FUCK WITH THAT.
    Tad off topic and to finish this, I’ll also say that battery size is also rather small in most devices; and FUCK WITH THAT TOO.

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