Could 18:9 displays become the new smartphone standard?

  • Tech News
  • Thursday, 20 Apr 2017

LG was first to bring the 18:9-format display to the smartphone market with its flagship G6. — LG

LG was first to bring the 18:9-format display to the smartphone market with its flagship G6. — LG

The latest flagship smartphones from LG (G6) and Samsung (Galaxy S8) have both switched to a 18:9 display format. Could they be blazing the trail for a new standard in smartphone screens? 

This new format – exactly twice as long as it is wide – offers a space-saving aspect ratio that lets smartphone users place two identical square panes side by side, using two applications simultaneously with Android's new multitasking functionality, for example. But this format is by no means new. 

Part way between the 16:9 aspect ratio generally used in TVs and other smartphones on the market and Panavision movie format, 18:9 is based on the same principle as Univisium, a film format created in 1998 by the famous Italian cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. 

In practice, it's possible to watch videos of all kinds on this type of screen, but two black bands will be used to make up for the difference in size with an 16:9 video, for example (and the same goes for watching videos shot in 18:9 on a 16:9 display). Very little content is currently filmed directly in the 18:9 aspect ratio. 

However, the format is garnering increasing interest among major industry players, which could explain the fledgling display trend pioneered by LG and Samsung. Netflix (House of Cards, Stranger Things) and Amazon (Transparent) are now filming several of their most emblematic series in this format. The same goes for movie studios, who are slowly testing the water with the recent pictures including Jurassic World and Café Society

The majority of smartphone, TV and laptop displays currently use the 16:9 aspect ratio, which, if previous experience is anything to go by, means it could take years for 18:9 to gain widespread use as a new standard. 

Note that a switch to 18:9 would make smartphones longer and less wide, becoming easier to use in one hand. It remains to be seen whether other manufacturers, notably Apple, will get on board the trend. — AFP Relaxnews