After updating my Sony Xperia Z5 Premium from 2016 to Android 7.1, I noticed the settings for screen scaling (known as Display Size). The setting has probably been around since I got Android 7 (Nougat) on the device a while back, but I did not notice it until now. I tried it out, and it is kind of useful to shrink text a bit to get more onto the rather large screen of the device. But the keyboard behaves in a rather funny way…
Here is keyboard at all three available display sizes, from “small” to “large”:
Notice how the keyboard buttons stay the same size, while the font inside the keys gets a bit bigger each time. Interesting. I guess logically, the font size should have stayed the same, seeing that the keyboard buttons do not change.
It is a minor quibble, but it does look a bit funny to my eye at the “small” size, especially when typing your password on the lock screen. The keyboard just looks a bit empty.
The display size feature is pretty useful I think – with the phone’s original Android 6 software, it seemed that I could not get all that much more data onto the screen compared to my older 5-inch-or-smaller phones. Shrinking the top status bar also gives me back a few pixels for content.
I must admit that using the “small” mode does make things a bit smallish at times, a bit like using 100% scaling in Windows 10 on a 1920×1080 screen at 13 inches (I have a laptop like that). The Amazon Kindle app in particular now lets me fit a lot of text onto a single page, bordering on the hard-to-read. But I rather have that ability, than the “default” setting that just never let me make the text small enough.
For reference, here how the ArsTechnica homepage reads at the three settings:
You can see how the text gets bigger, but also some interesting dynamic effects in the layout. The top left-right scrolling area appears to make each item bigger while retaining how the text is laid out across lines. The vertical list of articles underneath gets a different text layout, as that text tries to fill the available horizontal space. I can imagine that some layout code and “responsive” design rules have a fun time with dealing with different display size settings and actual physical display sizes.
For reference, here is how the settings panel presents each size:
So there we have it – just wanted to capture my experience here, as it was kind of interesting to take a quick closer look at how Android 7 display size scaling works.