When discussing smartphone screens with different aspect ratios, the argument often arises that it is more convenient to watch movies on 18: 9 screens. Is this so, let's try to figure it out.
What is convenience?
Regardless of the size of the screen, you want the picture to occupy the maximum area on it. Or, if you are considering the issue of stretching to full screen with cropping of part of the image (due to a mismatch of proportions), you want it to be cropped as little as possible. Therefore, let's try to consider with specific examples how much area the image occupies on different smartphones and whether increasing the diagonal always helps if it is due to a change in the aspect ratio of the screen.
Let's take three devices, the difference in the diagonal of which is caused not by a simple increase, but by a change in the aspect ratio:
- Huawei P20 lite. 5.84 ″ at 1080 by 2280 pixels, the pixel density, according to the Screen info utility, is 435×432 dpi. The physical size of the screen (excluding the cutout and rounding) is 63×134 mm.
- Samsung Galaxy S7. 5.1 ″ at a resolution of 1440 by 2560 pixels, a pixel density of 581×575 dpi. Or 1080 x 1920 pixels, 435×432 dpi. The physical size of the screen is 63×113 mm.
- Blackberry KEY2. 4.5 ″ at a resolution of 1080 by 1620 pixels, a pixel density of 434 dpi. Unfortunately, I do not have this device in my hands, so the calculations will be purely mathematical, and the screenshots are taken on an emulator. The screen size is 63×95 mm.
Old TV Movies
As you know, different aspect ratios exist not only for devices, but also for video content. Let's consider the most popular options. And let's start with old TV movies that had an aspect ratio of 4: 3.
Since the height (in landscape mode) of the screen of all devices is the same, the picture size will be the same – 84×63 mm. As you can see, in this case, a large diagonal does not give any advantage, we only get black frames on the sides of a larger size.
The vast majority of TV shows are released in 16: 9 format. This means that it will be the most optimal for viewing. Therefore, the Galaxy S7 looks perfect from the test devices in this case – the picture on it is shown in the size of 113×63 mm.
On Huawei P20 lite we get a picture of exactly the same size, but on the sides there are still black stripes.
And Blackberry KEY2 is not that good anymore. The 'narrow' screen leads to the fact that the picture has a size of 95×53 mm and black stripes appear no longer on the sides, but above and below.
Modern full-length films have an aspect ratio of 2.35: 1 or even wider. Therefore, in this case, the wider the screen, the more comfortable viewing should be.
For example, I took the official trailer for the film Panfilov's 28. It has an aspect ratio of 2.39: 1.
On Blackberry KEY2, in this case, as expected, we get the smallest picture. The 'narrow' screen gives only 95×40 mm.
Galaxy S7 expectedly gives small black stripes at the top and bottom and a picture in the size of 113×47 mm.
Huawei P20 lite, it would seem, should show itself perfectly here, but the 'monobrow' comes into play. Fullscreen mode works by cropping a part of the screen (the one where the 'monbrow' is). As a result, we get a picture of size 124×54 mm. It's still a bit more than the Galaxy S7.
So, is there any benefit to the wide screens of modern smartphones when watching videos? Yes, but only if we are talking about feature films. For TV shows, there is no difference, rather the opposite – black stripes on the sides can be annoying. And for old TV films the situation will get even worse. In addition, when choosing a modern smartphone for watching movies, you should pay attention to the presence of a cutout in the screen.