Now that Samsung is ditching its Edge brand and going all in on edge-to-edge, bezel-less displays for its flagship phone line, we’ll now have to contend with what may be one of the weirdest smartphone screen aspect ratios out there. On both the Galaxy S8’s 5.8-inch and 6.2-inch models, the device has an 18.5:9 aspect ratio.
18.5:9 has some setbacks when it comes to video
This is partly because of Samsung’s overhauled hardware design, which combines an edge-to-edge “infinity” display with reduced bezel and rounded corners to maximize screen size over what is otherwise pretty familiar real estate. This is so the phone doesn’t appear that much larger in your hand, but the screen absolutely looks and and feels as if it’s been supersized.
Of course, 18.5:9 is going to bring with it some headaches, particularly when it comes to videos. Because some videos display at 16:9, the S8 and S8 Plus is going to smack some vertical black bars on the left and right of files you watch in that format. (Android automatically resizes apps to work with various screen sizes, so you won’t have to worry about mobile games and other apps doing the same.)
However, a lot of feature films and other high-quality YouTube content these days is in 21:9, which has the benefit of removing those pernicious black bars on the top and bottom of screens. Samsung’s phones won’t remove those black bars, but the device’s software will stretch the image to fit the 21:9 format and allow you to watch the video as it more naturally would appear on a television set.
So in most cases, this wonky aspect ratio won’t be too much of an issue. But consider it a weird wrinkle in an otherwise gargantuan smartphone display.