33 reasons why holding bitcoin is better than holding gold

Here are 33 reasons why holding bitcoin is better than holding gold. I hold and have experimented with both in various ways, which helped me come up with this list.

By the way, holding bitcoin means being in possession or control of the private keys to your bitcoins, like when using certain bitcoin wallet apps, instead of keeping a bitcoin balance online at an exchange or in an online wallet. Holding gold means being in possession or control of it, not owning gold certificates or bonds. Same idea, except one is the digital equivalent to the other’s analog.

1.

Gold is heavy to carry around, bitcoins weigh nothing. You can have Bitcoins with you all the time without being encumbered. If your gold is at home and you need to liquidate it, you have to go back home to get it. The best “sound money” is the one you have with you!

2.

Carrying gold around is less useful than bitcoins, because there are comparatively far less businesses –and these days, people– that accept gold for payment than Bitcoin.

3.

If you carry your gold coins or bars around, they can be lost or taken. You can get mugged. You may be the victim of civil asset forfeiture, or illegal seizure. Bonus: Nobody can frisk you or search your bags and figure out you have gold on you against your will.

4.

There’s no “app for that”. You can’t send your gold to somebody over the internet. You have to hire the Pony Express or modern equivalent such as UPS or FedEx, and then wait, and trust them with it. Or deliver it yourself. Slow, tedious, costly.

5.

You can’t buy gold online and receive it right away from the comfort of your sofa. Nor can you upload your gold to liquidate it into cash.

6.

You can’t safely trade your gold for cash in-person with someone you don’t know and trust. With Bitcoin, there are trustless ways to trade.

7.

If you get sued, or divorced, your gold stash can be seized. Your bitcoin cannot without your consent.

8.

If you store your gold at home or in your apartment, it can be stolen. Or just as importantly, you can lose access to your home, and therefore your gold. Gold can melt in a fire. Bitcoin can’t.

9.

Storing your gold properly at home requires a safe and surveillance. Security through obscurity is weak. Storing your bitcoin far more securely just requires you to memorize a PIN code or a passphrase. You can have better than Fort Knox security with your Bitcoin at no charge other than to make sure you have a good smartphone (a non-jailbroken iPhone 6 and up with latest iOS will do fine.)

10.

You can’t cross borders with your gold. You can’t even bring any worthy amount on an airplane.

11.

You can’t buy stuff online with your gold. Like games on Steam, stuff from Dell, Microsoft, Overstock, hundreds if not thousands of other online services and stores.

12.

You can’t get a gold-backed credit or debit card and then decide to instantly load it up with some of your gold stash.

13.

You can’t buy and sell gold at ATMs across the world. You can only *buy* gold from a Vending machine. In Dubai.

14.

If government outlaws private possession of gold, as they did in the USA until 1975 (and could do it again, as other countries still do), forcing individuals to return gold in return for paper currency, the risks of discovering your gold stash (or being denounced) are far greater than if this happens with bitcoin.

15.

It’s hard to tell the purity of gold. It can also be counterfeit. You might own fake gold. It’s drop-dead easy to know if you have real bitcoins.

16.

You can’t convert Gold to Silver or to Platinum or other precious metals if those become more fashionable or have better growth prospects with the press of a button from your sofa. You can convert Bitcoin to other cryptocurrencies with the press of a button.

17.

You can’t simultaneously store your gold in multiple locations. You can keep copies of your bitcoin private key in multiple locations.

18.

You can’t give partial control of your gold to other people. With Bitcoin, you can give private keys to your bitcoins to a certain number of people and have them controled only if 2, 3 or more of them accept to make a given transaction.

19.

You can’t lock-in your gold so it can’t be traded/sold until a certain time. You can with Bitcoin.

20.

You can’t check your gold balance (or know if it is still all there) whenever you want even, from anywhere. You can with bitcoin.

21.

You can’t accept gold donations securely without even being there to receive them or paying/trusting a 3rd party to collect and protect them for you. With bitcoin, you can. It can be as easy as having a bitcoin sticker with the bitcoin QR code to donate to on it.

22.

You can’t convert gold to a brainwallet and store it entirely in your mind. You could be naked and in solitary confinement and still control fortunes and therefore have the power to spend/trade it.

23.

Bitcoin is easily divisible into smaller units as needed. Gold, not so much. I have some nifty 1g Canadian Mint MapleGrams, they are pretty tiny, but still worth about $50 USD each. You can have $2.00 of bitcoin or whatever you need.

24.

Gold transactions can be reversed. Through violent coercion. Bitcoin transactions cannot.

25.

Total amount of gold is unknown, and unlimited. Total amount of bitcoin is known to all, and is limited.

26.

Gold mining/production rate (and therefore daily supply) is variable. Gold mines can be discovered. Therefore its scarcity is variable. Bitcoin production is a known and fixed quantity. Gold production may increase over time. Bitcoin production gets cut in half every 4 years. This directly affects supply and demand and therefore is a factor that causes bitcoin’s increase in value over time.

27.

You can’t mine gold from the comfort of your home, while doing other stuff. You can do this with bitcoin. Just buy a mining rig, plug it in and configure it, and you’ll be accumulating bitcoin.

28.

You can’t start your own precious metal or even mint your own coins or create a gold-backed currency of your own (see Liberty Dollar and e-Gold). You do all that with Bitcoin.

29.

Bitcoin is programmable (can support smart contracts, tokens, secure and automatic crowdfunding), gold is not.

30.

Bitcoin can evolve. Gold cannot.

31.

Bitcoin can exist in virtual worlds below our level and move back and forth between the current layer (the real world) and the virtual layer (the level below), gold cannot.

32.

Bitcoin is still new, with a blue sky for potential value gain. Market cap is less than $50 billion. Gold is already in the $1 trillion market cap. Lots of room for bitcoin to grow. Gold, far less. It’s gold’s market cap to lose, and bitcoin’s to gain.

33.

Bitcoin transactions are time stamped and proving you traded it is easy. Proving you paid in gold requires a trusted receipt, and the receipt can be cheated.

Bitcoin Poem for a June morning

Bitcoin
Dropping like a dot com stock
Made by a computer jock
Smarter than Mr. Spock
Boat’s leaving the dock
Shock

Sexier than your wife
Sharper than a knife
Heavier than gold
Underbought not oversold
Hold

Mount Neverest

In the late 1980s I wrote my first BBS game, a multi-player mountain climbing game. While rummaging through old files I found the player’s manual. Maybe someday I will redesign it into some kind of MMO. Posting the manual here so I don’t forget.

                                   /\^
  Player's Manual                ^/   \^
  Revision III           ^/\    /       \
  Sept. 8, 1990         /   \/\/   ^     \
                      ^/         ^        \ /\
                     /   ^                 \^\^\
                  ^^                 ^          \      By Odi Kosmatos
                ^/                               \^    [Sledge Hammer]
               /     M O U N T   N E V E R E S T   \
              /                                     \^
             /   ^     Version 7.50     ^             \
            ^   o       ^               o     ^        \
   /\      /   /\                      /|>        ^     \      /\^ 
/\/  \/\/\/   />                        /\               \/\/\/  \/\/\/\/\
 
 
Introduction:
-------------
 
Mount Neverest is a multi-player online game. This means that you play
this game against other people. You actually interact with them even though
they do not play at the same time. Rather, you take turns, playing from
day to day, trying to become the most powerful player. The object of the game is
to try to get to the top of Mount Neverest.

Once at the top, you will be in a very powerful position, with many spells
available to you. You will be like a "God" and will enjoy having special
control over the other players. But to get to the top, you will have to fight,
sabotage, confuse and crush other player(s). But do not think that being at
the top is being all-powerful. There is treachery within treachery in this
game and you might find yourself destroyed if you are not careful. Being 
careful, you will enjoy being powerful.

How to play:
------------

    When you first enter the game, you start off being relatively weak.
You have a few magic points, and a few life points, and your height is 0,
which means you are at the bottom of this 121,000ft-high mountain. Life
points are mainly how much physical strength you have left, and they are
a measure of how much you can climb. 1 life point means you can climb
up to 1 foot up. But climbing has its risks. Life points are also useful
for other things. You can do various "moves" with life points. Things such
as climbing, throwing ropes and rocks, searching for things, attacking
others physically and some other special things. The different moves you
can do (depending on your height) are listed to you in the game when
you type "HELP" (or "?").

    Magic points are  where the strategy comes in. The more magic points
you  have, the more powerful you are. With magic, you can use spells. When
you start the game, you know only one or two spells, one of them is called
CREATORIS. This lets you get more life, so you can climb. But as you get
higher and higher, when you type "HELP", you will find out that you know
more and more powerful spells, like fighting spells, power spells, and all
sorts of the most ingenious spells to confuse other players. So when you
start playing Mount Neverest, you will only be trying to climb up a bit
using the CLIMB move and the CREATORIS spell, until other possibilities
arise.

     At the writing of this player's manual, there were 34 different spells
you can cast when you are very high up. And about 16 different "moves".
The mysterious thing is that this player's manual does not tell you what
each spell can do! It is up to you to either 1) Try each spell and see what
it does, or 2) Pay the oracle and see if he gives you hints or 3) Try the
special "move" which explains each and every spell. (Again, this document
will not reveal which "move" that is.).

    In this game, there is a built-in E-Mail system. To send mail to another
player, you use the PIGEON spell, if you are high enough. And to read your
incoming mail, you use the READ MAIL "move". Spells take up magic, and
"moves" take up life.

    To make this game seem more realistic, or more like the others are
playing at the same time, your player has a "memory" which remembers any
special things that have happened to you since you last played. To see the
things that happened to you, use the READ MIND spell, if you have it.

    And remember, there is treachery within treachery within treachery!
 
Pitfalls:
---------

    Now, dont think things are going to be that easy, even if you are the
best player of them all! On the planet where Mount Neverest is, there is
a super-God called the Sky-Lord. He doesnt like to make things easy so each
player will have to pass 4 initiations by the time they get to the top!

    You will probably have to pass your 1st initiation by the time you
reach 50,000 feet high. (Good players, from the start, will reach that
height in about 4-8 days. Teamwork can help a lot, also). Be prepared
for your initiations and make sure you pay close attention and think
wisely! Examine the minute details during your initiation.

ELEMENTALS:
-----------

    To help you in your quest to the top, spells have been provided so
that you can summon various Elementals. These mystical creatures have
special powers, and when they are with you they can do various things
which will help you a lot. There are about 6 elementals. It is up to you
to find out what each one does and which one you need. It doesnt take
a relatively large amount of magic to summon one. But if someday you find
it is gone... Treachery should be the first thing to come to mind. Read
the journal, it helps a lot to find your ennemies.

AMULETS:
--------

    Many of you may not notice, but there are 4 amulets which can
be found in the game. (4 distinct  amulets of which  no two players  
can have one at  the same time) which will make  their holders very
powerful. A player may be given an Amulet from  the Sky-Lord all of 
a sudden when you enter the game. Or, you can resort to treachery.
Each one of the 4 amulets gives you a specific power which can either
be very helpful to you, or destructive to others. Good luck.

DRAGONS:
--------

    Beware of dragons! But if you do meet one, be prepared for a nice 
graphical picture of the dragon and of you. The pictures will change as
things get heated up in your confrontation. It is an enjoyable thing to
see, once. Dont expect to meet it in your first week of play, unless you
play really well.

MYSTIC DIAL:
------------

    Following the true spirit of this game, I will  only give the
slightest  of  hints, and let you  find out the rest. DON'T let the 
mystic dial reach 100%!

The daily journal and Score files:
----------------------------------

    This game automatically produces a daily journal for you to see what
the major events of the day, and yesterday were. The system operator
of your BBS should make it available for players to read.
 
    The scores file shows the ranks and power-levels of all the players,
and where you stand in the game. (If you play, that is.)

It's up to you:
---------------

    These instructions do not reveal  the spells  you will know when
you climb higher, its up to you to figure out what they do. That is the
true  spirit  of this  game. There are many  hidden things and  ways of 
being "all powerful" (in the eyes of your opponents) -- go and find them  

    So go ahead and play this wonderful game, you will definitely
have lots of fun when people start discovering the possibilities of this
game.

Have fun,
Odi Kosmatos

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Please note that the sysop can chat with you when you are playing, so if
you have trouble with the game and the sysop notices, don't be surprised if
all of a sudden he/she drops into chat mode with you. (sysop presses F1)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Copyright 1989 Odi Kosmatos

Rethinking Cars If You Make the iPhone

This is fiction. It is what I imagine Apple is exploring.

You create and sell the iPhone, the world’s most successful product. You want to reinvent the automobile. One that will change how people use and think about cars. One that will also change how cars are built.

You have a clean slate. You can deeply integrate the car with iPhone, your wearables, your cloud services, in a way nobody else can. You can even count on the users having an iPhone on them. You question everything that you think needs to be in a car. You remember that there are a thousand No’s for every Yes. You can make bold moves.

You will be doubted. Many will not understand. Doesn’t matter. You are not Tesla, your goal is not to usher in the electric vehicle. That ship has sailed. You are Apple, you will change the game.

You will have three teams, each exploring a different avenue for controlling the car. The first team is tasked with designing a fully autonomous car. This team has the cleanest slate. The second team is tasked with designing a car to be actively controlled by a driver, though the team has the freedom to completely reinvent the way the car is controlled. The third team must design a car that is controlled by a driver that sits facing forward, with a steering wheel and pedals. Everything else in the car’s design, though, is up for grabs.

This post explores the “change how cars are built” part, not the “how people use and think about cars” part, and focuses on the things the third team will be looking at.

Team 3 isn’t designing a driverless car, but obtains and benefits from all the technology and software that the other teams must develop to achieve their goals. All three teams approach the design from Apple’s modus operandi. Fewer mechanical parts means more Foxconn, less weight and more range, more automation, more compactness, better sales margins. Most of all, a greater ability to scale the production of the vehicle to previously unthinkable levels. The Nokias and Blackberrys will be unable to compete.

Here are some of the non-software things your (all-star) team is perfecting:

Wheel module. Same one for all four wheels. We’ll come back to this later. It is just a lovely consequence.

Brake lines. Gone. No tubes with fluids routed everywhere to communicate and actuate the brakes. No hydraulics to install and maintain. No brake pad dust everywhere. No disc brakes to wear out. Instead, develop or license powerful electromagnetic brakes, that can handle emergency braking, drawing upon the all-electric vehicle’s large power reserves.

Keys. Gone. One more contraption we used to carry, now replaced by smartphones and/or watches. No Touch ID on the doors. No Siri outside the car. No emergency key. You will be able to get in and get going when you need to, even if your iPhone is lost.

Door handles. Gone. You signal that you want to open the door by force-touching the window (while the owner/users of the car are standing near it), and the door unlatches (and is smoothly pushed open a bit) so you can pull it open the rest of the way.

Dashboard. Gone. A single touchscreen running carOS will handle everything. Tesla Model 3 has stolen some of your steam here.

Steering column. Gone. Not even drive-by-wire. All electronic, high-framerate. Your team can rely on the electronics to work at all times and in all conditions, thanks to Team 1’s requirements.

Steering wheel. All significant new Apple product designs start with a new or completely rethought input method. The Mac’s mouse. The iPod’s click wheel. The PowerBook’s touchpad. The iPhone’s Touchscreen. The Apple Watch Digital Crown. For Team 3, the Steering wheel has to remain, but how it is used can be reinvented. It will be touch and rotation sensitive. It will have haptic feedback. You’ll feel the road through it, thanks to the car’s software and sensors, better than any mechanical steering wheel ever could. It won’t have its own display. There will be no horn button.

Turn signal levers. Gone. The software will do it for you. It knows everything it needs to, and you’ll also be able to inform it in advance or your intentions, casually, without taking your hand(s) off the redesigned steering wheel.

Mechanical brake pedal. Gone. Completely electronic. Same for the emergency brake. The car’s autopilot systems will handle them most of the time anyway.

Sound system. Gone. No SD card slots, no knobs, buttons, optical drive, nothing. Just speakers. No AUX IN. No satellite radio.

Mirrors. Gone. The car’s software and sensors will inform you of all conditions you need to know about, in a way far more reliable than mirrors that require you to turn your head and take your eyes off the road.

Buttons to adjust the seats. Nope. Also, the car knows your preferences because it knows who you are thanks to your iPhone or Apple Watch.

Buttons to open and close windows. Nope. There’s a tablet in the back, too.

Interior latch to manually open the doors. Nope. No way. A simple physical button attached to redundant electronics to unlatch the door.

Switches to turn on lights. Nope.

4-wheel steering. Yep. With electronics, four-wheel steering is back, and with nothing mechanical in between any of the wheels, there’s more space to make the car more compact and/or have more space within the car’s confines. The wheels also don’t have to turn as much, so the wheel wells can be thinner, too.

Motor on each and every wheel. Yep. Smaller motors, developed or licensed by Apple. All-wheel drive, all the time¹.

Shock absorbers and springs. Gone. Replaced with electronic actuators, for a ride that’s absolutely flat over the bumpiest of roads and around sharp corners.

Back to that wheel module.

With each wheel having identical parts: A motor, electromagnetic brakes, ability to steer, and actuators for a suspension, it can be placed nicely and easily in any position. Front, back, left, right. It can be replaced. It can be upgraded (how un-Apple-like though). It takes care of everything,  so the rest of the car is free to have the most space available.

Bolts to change the tires. Nope. If there is even a spare tire, it will be designed to be changeable in a more convenient way. But then again, if the wheel module is compact enough, there could even be an entire spare wheel module instead of a spare tire. Changeable at pit-stop speeds.

Food for thought.

¹ A less expensive version of the car could have only two wheel modules with motors in them.

 

 

 

 

 

Revised Bitcoin summary and brief comparison with government currency

Bitcoin is a worldwide ledger backed by open source code, cryptography and the most powerful and secure decentralized computational network on the planet. The Bitcoin network’s applicable computing power is orders of magnitude more than Google’s, Apple’s, Microsoft’s, Amazon’s and all the world’s governments’ combined applicable computing power.

The Bitcoin network’s computing power secures the ledger against any tampering whatsoever.

The Bitcoin ledger records ownership of ‘bitcoin’ tokens. There is a limit of 21 million bitcoins, and each is divisible into 100 million smaller units, or about 250000 units per human alive, enough for everyone to own some. A few new bitcoins are created at a fixed rate every 10 minutes on average until the maximum is eventually reached. Ownership of newly created bitcoins is assigned to miners, which can be anyone that contributes computing power to Bitcoin’s distributed network.

Ownership of bitcoins is possible solely by being the holder of the private key(s) to those bitcoins. A private key is a sequence of letters and numbers the owner has recorded somewhere, such as in a password-protected file, on paper, in an app on a smartphone, or even committed to memory. Bitcoin owners who keep their private keys secret cannot have their bitcoins taken away by any entity without their consent. Government currency can be seized or destroyed without the owner’s consent, either physically if it is in the form of cash, or electronically if it is in a bank account.

Dollars, Euros, Yen, and all other government currencies are not backed by gold or silver anymore, they are simply created as desired by central banks such as the Federal Reserve in the USA or the European Central Bank in Europe. Currency is also created out of nothing by regular banks in a process called fractional-reserve banking, whereby the banks legally lend out a multiple of the amount of currency deposited by customers.

As more government currency is created, the value of the currency already in circulation diminishes, causing indirect taxation known as inflation tax. Governments use this mechanism to stealthily finance activities such as war that would otherwise require directly taxing citizens. Direct taxes are far more noticeable and subject to cause dissension.

Holders of bitcoins cannot be subjected inflation tax because any attempt to change Bitcoin’s unit limit or structure automatically creates an altcoin. An altcoin may have a new ledger, or its ledger can be a copy of Bitcoin’s ledger, known as a fork, made the moment right before the unit limit or structure change was made. Either way, the original Bitcoin ledger, with its original unit limit and structure, continues to exist. Owners continue to own bitcoins on the original, as well as on any fork. The total value of the combined original and forked ledger remains the same, proportional to the distribution of computing power securing the ledgers.

As more citizens hold their savings in Bitcoin, the value of government currency is diminished, along with the government’s ability to indirectly tax citizens without their consent in order to finance questionable activities.


This summary is an elaborated version of this one I spotted on Reddit.

Pulling the string to see where it leads.

Try this experiment. Get your hands on your own bitcoin. 1 penny’s worth, a symbolic amount. I’ll send it to you myself to make it easy, just send me your deposit address.

Then ask yourself:

  • “Am I allowed to own this stuff? What can give others the right, or the power, to compel me to not use it? Who gives them this power?”

If you keep pulling on that string, it might lead you to a new awareness, it might not.

On April 30, 2013, I discovered Bitcoin, and those were the first questions I asked myself. This led me deep into the rabbit hole. I won’t tell you what I discovered in there. Unfortunately, no one can be told what’s in there, you have to see it for yourself.

Or, the story ends, you wake up in your bed…

Why should you use bitcoin?

Here’s why you would want to get your hands on some bitcoin and start using it now, while its fate is still uncertain:

Use bitcoin if you don’t like being told what you can and can’t do with your money.

Use bitcoin if you don’t like being told who and where you can send your money to.

Use bitcoin if you like the idea of being able to use services online without having to reveal your personal information or email.

Use bitcoin if you don’t like buying stuff and having to trust the merchant to keep your credit card information safe.

Use bitcoin if you think it is silly that a merchant can charge your credit card the wrong amount, or accidentally double charge, or worse.

Use bitcoin if you like the idea that nobody, for any reason, justified or not, can freeze or confiscate your assets.

Use bitcoin if you don’t like paying large fees when transferring money.

Use bitcoin if you are saving money for your retirement. Unlike government money it isn’t guaranteed to lose 95% or more of its value in your lifetime.

Use bitcoin if you want to help make sure it survives the battle with Visa, Western Union, JP Morgan, HSBC and friends.

Use bitcoin if you want to always have access to your money no matter where you are on earth.

Use bitcoin if you feel government has a bit too much power or abuses it. Take some of that power back into your own hands. If government currency has less of a monopoly, government can’t just print more money whenever it wants to, to pay for things citizens don’t agree with.

Use bitcoin if you want choice. Don’t let it die from neglect.

Use bitcoin if your life savings are all pegged to your government’s currency. Don’t keep your eggs all in one basket. Or buy some gold.

— Odi

Thoughts about what bitcoin is

Here are some not very organized thoughts about Bitcoin that won’t fit in tweets, but that I think are food for thought still worth publishing.

What is Bitcoin? It is the world’s most secure and fair way for storing and exchanging value.

Think about the money you make and any wealth you accumulate. Is it safe from bank fees, restrictions of various kinds, safe from being taken away from you unfairly by the government (not counting income taxes and sales taxes and other everyday government policies we typically participate in), being stolen by thieves, lost by bank errors, accidents, taken by unfair court order, seized, etc?

Bitcoin is like “the Internet of money”. It cannot be stopped, it is worldwide, it has real value, and it is not controlled by one or more governments and manipulated by banks, the nobility, politicians, intelligence agencies, organized crime, etc. It is a breakthrough in mathematics and computer science, and builds upon other amazing breakthroughs like public-key cryptography and peer-to-peer networking protocols.

Think of bitcoin as a new possession/wealth recognition system. There are 4 such systems I can think of today not including bitcoin:

  1. Fiat currency, which means money that is issued by government and also legal tender, which means legally it must be accepted by the citizens of the country for exchanging goods/services. This is what you get paid with by your employer, this is what you have in your wallet, bank account, etc. Every country uses one or more. The Euro, US$, Yen, Rupiahs, etc.
  2. Deeds to properties/land. You have one of these, it is recognized by your country and citizens, and this way everyone knows you own something. Of course, if your country is invaded, the invaders can ignore this.
  3. Legal agreements, promise documents, verbal promises to pay back, etc. between people.
  4. Precious metals.

Much of the above can fall apart when everything isn’t smoothly running.

Bitcoin is a new, 5th possession/wealth recognition system, not based on trust, but rather, mathematics and encryption (under the covers, you don’t need to know how it works) to assign value to you (in “bitcoins”). That value assigned to you cannot be taken from you by anyone. Governments, intelligence agencies, thieves, etc. When you send bitcoin to someone, the operation cannot be reversed. There are no banks involved, no fees necessary to make transactions, and your bitcoins exist worldwide as long as the internet exists. If you keep your private key in your mind, then only torture can extract it. Torture, blackmail, or a compromised device (such as a compromised Android phone you enter your private keys into).

With bitcoin, your wealth is not hanging by a thread which can be easily cut by the whim of courts, governments, thieves, banks, etc. It is international, it doesn’t depend on the value of the $US dollar, or the stability of a few countries. Solid stuff.

You can think of bitcoin as “digital gold”. Its value is based on supply/demand (purely, because supply cannot be manipulated artificially, like a country “printing more money” as needed). Gold, but with all the advantages of being digital… speed, micro-transactions, security, etc.

Revisited: Larger iPhone @ 264 PPI

Perhaps Apple could call a larger iPhone “Retina” even if it was “only” 264 PPI. The problem with a 264 PPI display is that it seems to be a dead-end resolution. There’s no obvious upgrade path for that display. The iPad mini, introduced at a relatively low 163 PPI,  does have an upgrade path: Apple just has to move it to the standard 326 PPI display resolution.

Yes, Apple can have a 264 PPI product while others are in the 300+ range, because when all is said and done, the only thing that matters is if that 264 PPI display is beautiful enough, on an absolute scale (or relative to iPhone 5) to be able to stay there for a good while.

So, I now believe, Apple will have given the 264 PPI 4.9″ display a trial run on some prototype devices, and if it looked superb despite the lower number PPI, that would be grounds to make the appropriate compromise (lower PPI, but easier for developers) and release at 264 PPI. If it doesn’t look superb, then they’ll go to my previously predicted 326 PPI and force developers to do more work.

[Edit Feb. 22 2014: Competitors are announcing smartphones with 500-600 PPI screens, and while it seems to be overkill, they’re still doing it. Perhaps it is just another form of the “megapixel race” camera manufacturers participate in, but still, we’ll have to see these screens before dismissing them outright as “marketing”.]

My take on the larger iPhone’s resolution

My favorite Apple bloggers (DF, RR, MA) seem to have come to a consensus on what they think a larger iPhone’s screen size and resolution would be. Their money is on 4.94″ @ 264PPI with the same 1136×640 resolution of the iPhone 5.

The argument looks good because this has a lot of similarities with what Apple did with the iPad mini. The iPad mini has the same resolution as an iPad 2, but with 163PPI instead of 132PPI. The touch targets on the iPad mini still work because they are exactly the same size as those of the iPhone’s. It is great because apps run as-is on an iPad mini. Developers have nothing to do.

But the iPad mini’s 163PPI has a clear upgrade path: good old 326 PPI retina. Super obvious.

However, a 4.94″ @ 264 PPI iPhone would be a dead-end. There’s nowhere for it to go but 528 PPI, which is overkill even by skate-to-where-the-puck-will-be standards. Furthermore, a 4.94″ @ 264PPI iPhone with a resolution of 1136 x 640 would not be retina. It also wouldn’t be competitive. That’s 3 important negatives right there.

Consider a 5.0″ iPhone at 1420×800 though. That’s exactly 326PPI. It happens to be 1.25X the iPhone 5’s resolution in each dimension. Same aspect ratio. If bezels get thinner, this size seems to make more sense. Here are the considerations:

– It is retina. It won’t need to get any better.
– It is a competitive resolution.
– It uses the same panels as the iPhone 5.

The downside I read that is being argued, is that apps need to be modified to use this new resolution. Well, guess what, we iPhone devs already have to support 1136×640 in addition to 960×640. That means we’re already trained for arbitrary extra rows of pixels. Having one more of those (with extra rows and columns) isn’t that much worse. It might be a good idea for us devs to take one for the team, to avoid our apps being letterboxed on the larger iPhone.

I’m going to go out on a limb and put my money on a nice-sounding 5.0″ @ 326PPI retina display larger iPhone 🙂