Why iPhone 6S still features a non-VR display resolution

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iPhone 6s no VR

Apple just finished their keynote, announcing the iPadPro, the new Apple TV and the latest generation iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. Some people expected the iPhone to finally get a greater display resolution, which turned out to not be the case. Thus, the iPhone still is not a proper solution for virtual reality.

iPhone 6s screen resolutionToday the IFA exhibition in Berlin, Germany closed its doors. It is the place where Sony showed off their latest high-end smartphone, the Xperia Z5, which will come in three different variations. The premium model claims to be the worlds first 4k smartphone, featuring the according display resolution, set to launch in November later this year. Meanwhile, todays announced new iPhones feature the exact same resolution their predecessors already had (image on the right). I can barely remember the time where Apples’ iPhones used to offer the highest “pixels per inch”-ratio on the market. So why is it that Apple lags behind?

Great specs on paper, less useful in real life

Now before all the Apple haters start cheering, the truth is that Apple, in fact, does not lag behind. They didn’t upgrade the screen resolution without reasons, and here is why: First of all, a higher screen resolution obviously needs more power, CPU as well as battery. What is more, higher screen resolutions than these used by Apple are senseless, if not used for VR purposes, because your eyes cannot detect any pixels anyway, unless you’re looking through enlarging lenses. Thereby the Xperia Z5 and many other high-end phones end up working more for no noticeable differences.

pink iPhone 6s

However, virtual reality is only enjoyable while taking advantage of a screen resolution of at least Full HD, which the 6/6s Plus offer. The non-Plus versions only provide 1334-by-750-pixels though, which doesn’t fit the needs of VR. As a result, you should prefer the Plus, or the Z5 for an even better VR experience, if you going to use your phone for VR – although it is questionable if the Z5, running Android and a 4k screen, will be able to provide smooth fps in VR action. No current phone is able to render full 4k, which is why – according to Sony – the Xperia Z5 upscales from 1080p. Thus, the only reason why a 4k screen on a mobile device is good for VR is that it’s effectively reducing the screen door effect (visible lines between pixels).

The most important question is: will you use your phone regularly to explore VR? People who expect full immersive VR, maybe even including positional tracking, should rather buy a stand-alone VR headset like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or Project Morpheus. Google Cardboard and iPhone alternatives may be awesome for quick demos and first impressions, but cannot be considered too seriously at this point. The majority of people will most likely use their phone as a phone most of the time, not as a VR screen. Which is why Apple made the right decision, sticking to the – in comparison – low screen resolutions, not taking the “paper spec battle”.

Apple announced the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus earlier this morning. Most of the new features like “3D touch” (pressure sensitive screen) and stronger 7000-series aluminium came as no surprise. Overall, while the new models look like the last generation iPhones, it is still a big step forward with a almost twice as fast CPU, GPU and finger-print sensor and an enhanced 12MP camera, recording up to 4k. For first impressions, checkout the trailer above.

What do you think about the new iPhones? Would you like them to have an increased screen resolution or do you agree with us?