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So, what is this 2:1 Univisium display ratio on the LG G6 and likely the S8?

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TL;DR

With more and more Netflix and other movies shot in the 2:1 Univisium format, phones like the LG G6 and the S8 would embrace the up-and-coming 18:9 aspect ratio for their displays, fitting more scene in the frame, and allowing for taller, narrower devices, plus better split-screen multitasking with Nougat.


LG got none other but the inventor of the 2:1 Univisium format on stage today to explain why the G6 comes with a screen in this new aspect ratio. When LG announced a brand new 5.7" display panel with the unorthodox 1440 x 2880 pixels resolution, the company's experiments with secondary displays immediately came to mind. "Oh, it's just LG being LG," some thought, "they are always doing something with modular phones or extra ticker screens like on the V-series, so that might be it." Today became clear, however, that this screen will indeed be on their G6 flagship, and a lot of eyebrows got raised. What, a screen with an 18:9 (2:1) aspect ratio in a flagship handset? The vast majority of today's smartphone displays use the more common 16:9 ratio, which is the widespread widescreen 1:78:1 HD standard you see on your TV.

Adding fuel to the 2:1 fire, Evan Blass of @evleaks fame tipped not long ago that the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus displays will come with 18.5:9 aspect ratios, and we started wondering why the odd .5, and whether that means a flat 16:9 panel that is slightly curved on both sides. It might be accounting for the on-screen button strip that will allegedly be on the S8 and S8 Plus, or it could be because of the slightly rounded corners and edges, but in any case the aspect ratio for the visible flat portion of the displays will be closer to the new 2:1 standard of the G6 than the old 1.78:1 one.


Then came the question what, for Pete's sake, is the 2:1 (18:9) standard? Well, it's called Univisium, and is not widespread yet. As the name implies, it strives to unify the current widescreen 1.78:1 (16:9) HD standard, aimed at digital TV broadcasting, with the theatrical release 2.20:1 (70mm) standard of films shot for movie theaters. According to its founder, the cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, in the future all releases will boil down to those two formats, thus he proposed Univisium as closest to the mathematical average of the 2.20 (70mm) and 1.78 (HD) formats, so that no cropping or artificially keeping the action inside one rectangle would be needed while filming for any purpose.

Sounds iffy? Well, don't forget that the current widescreen 1.78:1 (16:9) standard was also coined as a mathematical average of the old 4:3 TV broadcast aspect ratio, and the legacy CinemaScope lens one used for shooting widescreen theatrical releases at the time. Most TVs, computer, laptop and smatphone displays since 2009 have caught on to the 16:9 format, but the future might merge the last two standing formats even further into the Univisium standard. That is why the Galaxy S8 and LG G6 screens might have been coined with the futureproof, albeit unorthodox 2:1 aspect in mind. Samsung, in particular, didn't bat an eye to slap an HDR10-compliant display on the Note 7, despite that this wide-color standard is not really widespread just yet. 

The writing is already on the wall - blockbuster TV shows aimed at binging and streaming like Netflix's House of Cards or Amazon's Transparent are already done in the 2:1 format, and we just peeped to check how was the newest Netflix series Frontier shot - yep, in beautiful 4K, depicting the raw detail of Canadian nature, and, surprise, surprise, in 2:1 ratio. 

Could this become the de facto phone screen standard going forward? That's a leap, so we'd have to hear how will Samsung and LG fare with this eventual move, but it has one more added benefit - judging from the new 2:1 G6, phones would become slightly taller, but narrower, and thus easier to use with one hand. Thanks, Univisium, if that's you.

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Story timeline

This story is part of:

LG at MWC 2017 (17 updates)
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LG G6 specs
  • Display 5.7 inches 2880 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP (Dual camera) 5 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 4GB RAM
  • Storage 32GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 3300 mAh
  • OS Android 8.0 Oreo LG UX UI
Samsung Galaxy S8 specs
  • Display 5.8 inches 2960 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Single camera) 8 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 4GB RAM
  • Storage 64GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh
  • OS Android 9.0 Pie Samsung One UI

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