It really comes as no surprise that the latest iPhone devices were a holiday hit. Live-streaming fails, snarky memes, and even #bendgate weren’t enough to hamper sales of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus when they were launched last September, with 10 million devices sold in the first three days alone.
What does this mean for email marketers?
Apple’s move toward bigger screens and higher resolutions — along with the default Apple iPhone app’s stronghold as the number-one email client — will ultimately influence change in email marketing’s evolving best practices.
I connected with StrongView Associate Creative Director Alyson Coutts to get her take on the effect bigger iPhones will have on email creative.
What does the introduction of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus mean for responsive email design?
ALYSON: The biggest change will be adjustments in breakpoints in your media queries. If your current layouts rely on the 320- or 480-pixel widths of previous generations of iPhones, you may have to adjust that to accommodate the larger screens.
However, if your layouts have a scalable design, you may find they actually display nicely on the larger screen of the 6 Plus.
As the size of all mobile devices becomes more and more varied, it's more important than ever to apply a mobile-first approach to all of your email designs.
What are the screen dimensions and resolutions we’re dealing with?
ALYSON: The iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch display that’s 1334 px x 750 px, and a resolution of 326 pixels-per-inch.
The larger iPhone 6 Plus’s 5.5-inch display is 1920px x 1080 px, with a 401 PPI resolution. That’s the highest resolution we’ve ever seen on a smartphone.
For comparison, the iPhone 5 has a 4-inch display that’s 1136 px x 640 px, and the same 326 PPI as the standard iPhone 6.
How is the high resolution of these devices an issue?
ALYSON: With the Retina HD displays, it’s important to be aware of the clarity of images. We double the pixel dimensions of important images — like company logos — so when they’re displayed at the correct size in the HTML code, the image will be crisp on the HD screen.
For the iPhone 6 Plus, we could even triple the pixel dimensions to take advantage of all of the extra pixels in the 1920 x 1080 screen.
What other recommendations do you have for accommodating these smartphones?
ALYSON: Consider three versions of your message that will change via media queries for campaigns with high mobile opens:
1. A small mobile layout
2. A larger mobile layout
3. And a desktop version
Also be sure you have a great preheader —with the larger screens, more real estate is given to the “from” name, subject line and preheader in the inbox preview.
And continue to use general mobile best practices: large CTAs, large fonts for live text, and plenty of white space.
So is now the time to implement changes to templates to accommodate iPhone 6 and 6 Plus? That depends. If your resources allow for an update sooner rather than later, you stand to capture greater engagement among the iPhone early adopter/early majority audience.
But if a retinkering of templates isn’t in your Q1 budget, let your data drive you: Keep tabs on the rendering environments your audience is using the most. Once the share of your audience accessing email on iPhone 6 and 6 Plus becomes significant — for example, when it represents half of your total iPhone opens, or 10% of all opens — it will be time to make an investment that ensures optimal rendering for a wider, and growing, audience.