18:9 Screen aspect ratio concerns

So I was reading a design report published in news on May 10, 2018.


We are now aiming for a 5.5″ to 5.7″ screen with a 18:9 ratio that would let us incorporate a larger battery without affecting the shape of the phone.

Don’t you guys we should stick to 16:9 screen aspect ratio (I don’t mind the increased screen size but division of dimensions should also result in a value of 1.777) when most media has been created/optimized for 16:9. Even desktop monitors are in 16:9.

I am just feeling a little turned off by 18:9 screen aspect ration. Please share your suggestions.

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Also isn’t 18:9 a slightly weird construction? I was taught in math class to reduce ratios to least terms which would make 18:9 2:1.

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16:9 ratio in smartphone designs is because of youtube and mass market media consumption not because of usability or productivity.
as i understand librem 5 focus is at first with getting the basics going.
phone calls, emails, text-chat, htlm browser navigation instead of apps so the BASICS. why they would chose an 18:9 ar for the screen so early in the design process is beyond me. if it was up to me i would have chosen 1:1 for the first iterations then as things started to shape up i would have gone for the media consumption standard. my 2 cents …

18:9 can be thought of as 16:9 + 2:9. That gives us the regular screen plus some additional space for user interface - home button perhaps? Long story short, we decided to give it a shot.


thank you for acknowledging and responding but i really wished if display dimensions and resolution should have been 16:9. why this 18:9 viral trend has to spread plague in librem5 too? why not even make corners round then and include a notch maybe. 18:9 is turnoff :frowning:

You realize that with the inclusion of navigation UI elements you are getting 16:9 right? In fact you are getting a 16:9 that never needs to be infringed upon thanks to space in the display for dedicated UI elements.


really it’s just a cost saving measure. eliminating phisical buttons that is

You can look at it like that, but it is also another vector for failure. Physical buttons wear out faster than a flat piece of glass/plastic.


Yes and no. On screen buttons burn in faster than physical buttons wear out.

Perhaps if the buttons are constantly there and never change, but most modern mobile OSes have dynamic onscreen buttons that change based on the activities taking place. I doubt burn in would be something we would ever need to worry about.

Beside wearing out faster though, physical buttons also allow dust and particles in as well.

With all the android phones I’ve used I have always been frustrated with losing screen area due to the ratio. The added resolution in my mind is amazing and actually makes me even more excited for this.


During the previous Great Screen-Narrowing Event of 2009, when practically all laptops went from 16:10 to 16:9, I tended to feel resentful. I was losing 120 precious vertical pixels so that manufacturers could benefit from reduced cost by standardising on the TV aspect ratio, while marketing it as a feature! 1920x1200 was great for viewing all kinds of things, 16:9 video included. Playback controls could be displayed alongside full-screen 16:9 video without having to be overlaid on top of it in that annoying manner we have had to become accustomed to, and 16:10 was a good compromise for showing 4:3 video as well. I still consider 16:10 to be the optimum aspect ratio for laptops or desktop monitors, though few brands offer it.

So, my original knee-jerk reaction to 18:9 phones was “Oh no, not this again. I hope it doesn’t spread to laptops.” But, having reflected on it for a while, having 18:9 rather than 16:9 on a phone seems less troubling to me than 16:9 did on a laptop.

For one thing, it’s more of an extension than a reduction. On the whole, staying with 16:9 would mean a shorter phone, not a wider one. And phone screens do tend to feel a bit cramped when reading text, so adding more vertical screen space is appealing. In the landscape orientation it shouldn’t be any worse than before, provided that content is zoomed to the same scale (and not larger).

Another factor is that the small size of a phone screen is already sub-optimal for the sorts of tasks where an aspect ratio closer to 1 is beneficial, so I don’t care as much as I might have done.

So, I’m more “meh” than “eeek” about the Librem 5 screen aspect ratio.

But don’t ever try to sell me an 18:9, laptop. That’s just wrong.


This is nothing new, other phone manufacturers already opting for 18:9.

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While I understand the reasons as to why purism chose to adopt 18:9 and I am ok to negotiate/compromise but that’s a really bad statement to make “other phone manufacturers already opting for xyz.” as librem5 was about everything other manufacturers weren’t.

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Not a statement at all, nor explanation, I am simply pointing to a fact that 18:9 ratio is not something new that Librem 5 will introduce.

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Purism as a whole is not about just making devices that are free, secure, and protect your privacy. If that was it, they wouldn’t need to exit as there are other companies doing those things already. Where they come along is that they aren’t trying to sell you a 10 year old thinkpad with Linux on it.

They are selling a modern piece of equipment that competes in the same marketspace as Windows and Apple products. On top of this they are curating the experience in a way that only someone who does the software and hardware can do. This makes their products accessible by everyone and not just the Linux elite.

The phone emphasizes this even more so. It has the potential to truly disrupt the smartphone market. It does this by being a phone anyone can use (more so than a linux laptop), and by offering the same core features of all the leading smartphones today. It however goes further by giving you your freedom, security, and privacy back as well. This phone will not appeal to anyone if current hardware trends and capabilities are not targeted as well.


In 2019, almost all phones on the market are 18:9 and it is probably cheaper for Purism to order a 18:9 screen which is now the standard size than to special order a 16:9 screen which is now considered non-standard.

Having more vertical pixels makes it easier to view websites that aren’t designed for mobile phones and articles with graphics, but it can also make onscreen keyboards too wide when the phone is turned horizontally and it hard to use a phone one-handed when buttons are at the top of a very tall screen. These won’t be problems if the software on the Librem 5 is designed for one-handed use, but that probably will be a later option added to libhandy/phosh by the community and it is a minor issue in my opinion.

The real problem is when screens grow so tall that there isn’t room for the front camera, flash and proximity sensor, so notches or hole punches are necessary in the screen. Purism has promised a standard rectilinear screen without a notch, so I don’t think that will be a problem. Some of the new phones on the market are now 21:9, which is ridiculously long for a phone in my opinion.

A bigger worry for me is the brightness of the screen in sunlight and whether the camera will be adequate or whether I will need to carry around an extra camera/smartphone for taking pictures. A 1080x2160 screen resolution would have been nice, but you will probably only notice the lower 720x1440 resolution if you are constantly switching back and forth between a higher resolution phone and the Librem 5.

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