The proof of this was discovered in the third developer beta for iOS 14 by 9to5Mac, which brought in a small update to an unassuming accessibility setting called Display Zoom.
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Display Zoom is Apple's feature that allows users to make an iPhone's interface larger and easier to interact with. It does this by swapping out the interface for the next size down.
For example, an iPhone 11 Pro Max with Display Zoom active resizes icons and text to look like they do on the smaller iPhone 11 Pro. Doing this on the larger-screened Max model makes icon and apps look larger.
However, 5.8-inch iPhones ( the iPhone X, iPhone XS or iPhone 11 Pro) have been unable to make use of Display Zoom, since there has never been a smaller iPhone that still uses Face ID. As such, there's not been an option in modern iPhones to zoom in the display below an interface designed for 5.8-inch phones.
But that's now changed. Assets found in 9to5Mac's analysis of Display Zoom show compatibility for displaying the iOS 14 user interface at a resolution of 2079 x 960, which is the resolution expected for the rumored 5.4-inch iPhone 12. As such, this adds further evidence that a compact iPhone 12 is indeed in the works.
Through the use of iOS Simulator, a Mac tool designed to mimic the IOS interface for developers to see what their apps might look like on different iPhones, 9to5Mac was able to come up with a simulated 5.4-inch iPhone running at a 2079 x 960 resolution.
As the IOS 14 interface adapted correctly to this resolution and simulated screen size, it effectively serves as evidence that Apple has been working on ensuring the IOS interface works correctly to a 5.4-inch display. That, in turn, goes some way to confirming that a 5.4-inch iPhone 12 is coming.
Running such a simulation showed a user interface with the same aspect ratio as the 5.8-inch iPhone X, only with a smaller amount of screen space and at a lower resolution.
The images in this article are a to-scale comparison of the 5.4-inch interface compared to the 5.8-inch interface. The smaller one is apparently comparable to the iPhone SE (2020) in size, except with a full-screen display and Face ID notch instead of bezels and a home button.
Apple will likely show off the iPhone 12 series in September, as it has done in previous years. However, due to coronavirus-related problems, we may see its shipping date pushed back to October.
The iPhone 12 series will be made up of four models, ranging in size between 5.4 inches and 6.7 inches. All models will feature OLED displays, a new A14 Bionic chip and 5G modem, if the rumors are to be believed.
Two of the models will be the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. In addition to the other changes, the Pro models are expected to receive a 120Hz "ProMotion" display refresh rate, and the Pro Max is expected to have a LiDAR depth sensor alongside its trio of cameras in order to deliver improved photo effects and AR tracking.