Explaining Display Zoom on iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

“The first time you set up your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, you’re asked if you want to use standard or zoomed view,” Jason Cipriani reports for CNET. “The standard view uses the layout Apple intended for each respective device, while zoomed provides for larger icons, text and buttons.”

“The zoom levels may seem random, but they’re far from it. The iPhone 6 Plus in zoomed mode displays the equivalent of what’s displayed on the iPhone 6. While the amount of content on the iPhone 6 in zoomed mode is equivalent to the iPhone 5S,” Cipriani reports. “No matter what you chose during initial setup, you can always go back and change to the alternative Display Zoom setting.”

More info and screenshots in the full article here.


  1. The difference is barely visible. Essentially, standard view makes icons and other graphic elements exactly the same size as on the 5 / 5s. Since the iPhone 6 is just a little bit wider than the 5 / 5s, there aren’t enough pixels across for the fifth column of app icons. Therefore, the layout of icons is exactly the same as on 5/5s, with four columns across, except that the icons are a bit more spaced out, and the distance form the screen edge is slightly greater.

    When you use the zoom feature, it will make all graphic elements, including app icons, slightly larger, so that it will all proportionately look exactly the same as 5/5s.

    Bottom line: when you use zoomed mode, your screen looks exactly like 5/5s, just a bit bigger. When you use normal mode, you may be able to fit an extra row of icons, because you get just about enough extra vertical pixels for it.

    Apps developed for 5/5s with fixed pixel size will be framed with a black frame in normal mode, and would fill the screen in zoomed mode. This is much like phone apps on the iPad.

    1. For what it’s worth, “Apps developed for 5/5s with fixed pixel size” might not be understood by most readers. Apple has been pushing developers to use the Layout Manager which establishes relationships between buttons, labels, lists, etc., such that most apps written since the iPhone 5 ushered in a larger screen are going to be just fine using the larger real estate of the iPhone 6 screen. Black bars should only be present if the developer was, shall we say, less motivated to be sensible and current — I play a Solitaire game from the opening day of the App Store which has a fixed-size playing table, and so it has had black “bars” filling in the sides for the last couple of years. But the apps my company produces grow their user interaction space appropriately for larger screens. The iPhone 6 Plus is large enough that I’m having my team think through the correct usage of that extra space.

  2. Standard mode (non zoom) lets you put your icons in landscape mode among other things. Example – looking at your emails with a list on the left and the selected email contents on the right like on your Mac. It makes the iPhone 6 Plus operate more like an iPad.

    1. That was the first thing I noticed when in ZOOMED mode – the two up display in landscape did not work. I went back and switched to standard mode right away, then adjusted text size up a little bit. I’d rather have the two up display where applicable, instead of pudgy icons.

  3. Now that we are talking about this.

    I have noticed three different app effects, when it comes to scaling.

    1. Native look, from apps designed for the 5/5S on up.
    2. Letter Box, from apps that are native to the 4/4S Retina Display.
    3. Letter Box and Cropped, from apps that are native to the 3G/3GS.

    Take a look at Bejeweled Blitz, I don’t think that has been updated in 5 years. You are bound to find these apps, and I think this cropping doesn’t work for me. It would be nice to be able to adjust the zoom, on the fly, when cropping occurs.

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