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 in 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 form with height first and width second i.e. height:width. So if a screen was 12cm tall (height) and 9cm wide (width), the aspect can be gotten by dividing both numbers with a common denominator 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.

So 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 were made for smartphones, consumers started demanding for larger displays in order to better enjoy content and the smartphone companies obliged. Screens began to get longer and taller. These days 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. Although 20:9 is fast becoming the norm these days as screens are growing taller and taller. Modern smartphones are trying really hard to eliminate bezels so that the user can have the entire face of the smartphone for their personal viewing consumption.

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 and more aspect ratios has led to innovations such as the notch (wide, infinity, V and teardrop), pop-up cameras as well as under display cameras too. All of these are providing smartphone users with more screen real estate with no obstructions.
Although some smartphone users are calling for a return back to the 4:3 days when smartphones fit snugly into hands, this new tall bezel-less era has come to stay.

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