Nexus 9 Front

Xiaomi Higher-Ups Welcome Google to the 4:3 Screen Party

October 20, 2014 - Written By Phil Bourget

Think of the phone, tablet, or camera (if you’re like me and read news on a smart camera, that is) and the screen you’re seeing this written (or typed, technically) on.  The screen is probably a 16 by 9 (sometimes written as 16:9) aspect ration.  This means that the screen is noticeably longer than it is wide.  It allows for a great amount of vertical (or horizontal, if you have the display in landscape orientation), but there are drawbacks.  And these drawbacks, however small (like it not being ideal for reading or browsing the Internet.  But what does this have to do with Android, you might wonder.  Well, it has a lot to do with Google’s latest Nexus tablet, the Nexus 9 made by HTC.

Many cameras on devices show the viewfinder in a 16:9, or otherwise fullscreen view, so it fills the screen.  Google challenged this with the Google Camera, which broadened the horizons of and reinvigorated the Nexus camera application, and offered a non-fullscreen experience, but you could see exactly what you would be getting in your snapshot.  Cameras are irrelevant here too, actually, but they show a point.  Android tablets, as time has progressed, have gone from an expanded phone’s display, which sits at 16:9, to a 16:10, and now are trending into the range of 4:3.  These numbers simply mean that people have popularized the use of a more squared-off (though not completely, which is important) display for media consumption on tablets running Android.

Samsung still uses more rectangular displays, but companies like Apple, on their iPad, and Xiaomi, on their MiPad, have been using the now almost-standardized 4:3 aspect ratio display to showcase media.  The Nexus 9, manufactured by HTC this year, boasts some impressive internal specifications, but the most noticeable spec is the display.  The IPS LCD panel sits at 2048 by 1536 pixels, spread across 8.9 diagonal inches, which has the tablet looking very iPad-like.  But get this: Xiaomi is glad that Google finally left the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10’s screen ratios for a more natural 4:3.

Various higher-ups from Xiaomi, as well as some official accounts linked with Xiaomi products (such as the Mi 4 and MiPad), have called Google on using the new aspect ratio.  Now, don’t get that wrong; Xiaomi isn’t harassing Google about their choice.  The employees and other accounts are congratulating Google on the choice, the ‘smarter choice’ of choosing to use a 4:3 aspect ratio screen, which is what they use for their tablets.

The single uniting comment among all the commentations about the aspect ratio: it is a step forward for Android, especially tablets, since the tablet it is shown off on is a computer that is mobile.  The full messages (though translated rather badly, if I do say so myself) and postings, in screenshot form, are in the gallery below so feel free to check those out.  What do you think of the choice to go with and possibly set a new standard for Android tablet displays?  Do you think it will matter much?  Or will it set off something crazy like the iPhone did in 2007 with the hundreds of black rectangular touchscreen phones that launched in 2008?  Let us know down below.