So, what is an aspect ratio?
It is not exactly Screen resolution and it’s definitely not the screen size (cool revelation, right?).
It is merely the ratio of Length x width of the screen. Since tech is *complicated* and maths seems to freak people out, let’s simplify this!
Traditional smartphone displays have an aspect ratio of 16:9. If we take a Samsung Galaxy S7 which has a screen size of 5.1″ which only means that the diagonal is 5.1″. The display is 4.45 tall and 2.5″ wide. Now if you divide this you get 1.78 which is 16/9. This is the aspect ratio in which all of our smartphones have been till date. Obviously, there have been a few exceptions to some blackberry devices but it has been 16:9 primarily.
But wait! Recently we started hearing the aspect ratio of 18:9. Now the question is why this sudden change of aspect ratios? Where did this new standard come from and all of that?
“It’s because bezel-less displays are 18:9”, is what those with half-assed knowledge would say but if you think about it, phones have started becoming bezel-less because of smaller display drivers and other parts which enable manufacturers to tuck most of it under the display! This is what brought Bezel-less displays but then why to change the ever so popular aspect ratio? Now, that’s a smart question and we’re sure that you have thought about it. Did you?
Well, let me tell you a little back story of this aspect ratio. The aspect ratios have had a very interesting past with a lot of different aspect ratios being used. In the early days, the aspect ratio depended on the film they used so you might have heard 35mm or super 35mm or 65mm films. Well, without going into too much depth, our older TVs used an aspect ratio of 4:3 that’s why those old tv’s look rather squarish compared to today’s televisions. Good old 90’s, but let’s not rant as of now.
Then we adopted the aspect ratio of 16:9 for displays which we see even today. Since 2010 it has become the most common aspect ratio for televisions and computer monitors and is also the international standard format of HDTV, Full HD, non-HD digital television and analog widescreen television. Also all of our smartphones, those resolutions you have come to hear like 1280×720, mpds are all 16:9.
Now, when it comes to films they are shot in a widescreen aspect ratio of 21:9. This is why you get black bars on top and bottom of your screen while watching a movie and this is also the reason why just putting your normal video inside these bars immediately makes it looks cinematic. Well, all of this is working quite well but there’s a big problem here that not many of us see. While we enjoy the cinematic look we most certainly would love our entire screens to be filled with no wastage of any screen real estate.
This is where the 18:9 aspect ratio comes in. In 1998, the Academy award-winning Cinematographer, Vittorio Storaro created this futuristic aspect ratio. called 18:9. And let me tell you, you’ll be dumbstruck on how visionary someone could be. As Storaro stated in his written proposal “Recently, any movie – no matter how big or small, successful or not – will, after a very short life on the big screen, have a much longer life on an electronic screen. Today the answer print is made for both of these two different media. …Having these two different media, with essentially two different aspect ratios, each of us (directors, production designers, cinematographers, camera Operators, etc. shares the nightmare of compromising the composition of the Image. Looking through a viewfinder, a camera, or a monitor, we are always faced with at least two images of the same subject.”
He said this in 1998 when some of us were just kids and I was, well, a year old!
It is just insane how ahead of his time he was. How he came to an 18:9 aspect ratio is actually quite logical. The widescreen is 21:9 which is around 2.3 and 16:9 comes to be 1.78 the mathematical average is 2 hence the aspect ratio of 2:1 which is 18:9. Now, what this means in practice is that in the very near future all of our devices so our phones which are already 18:9 and our TV’s computer monitors all of them will have an aspect ratio of 18:9 which will mean that no matter what device you are consuming your content on, it will be exactly how the creator or the director intends it to be.
Apart from this, there are a lot more advantages to the 18:9 aspect ratio. Purely talking about phones right now, it gives a lot more space on the screen, first of all, when you are using two apps on a single screen you get two full squares which wouldn’t have been possible on a 16:9 display. Apart from that, I think the main reason all phones suddenly switched to this aspect ratio is so that the users would feel right at home.
While Our phone screens have always been 16:9, our phones themselves have been a little taller with the bezels. Interestingly enough I just calculated my S7’s aspect ratio and it came out to be 2.07… Which is why the 18:9 aspect ratio phones would feel familiar to you. Keeping the aspect ratio at 18:9, in turn, makes sure that the phones feel similar in hand.
Are you clear with this concept now? If not, drop in your comments and ask away all your mind-boggling questions!
Cover Image – Source.