I am newbie at working with android.

I have read several uxexchange questions here, articles etc. but I am still struggling on which size of screen should I start for the android app we need to work?

I have read the guidelines also in android but I still don't understand. My head is a mess with all the dpi, dp, the formula they give...I don't know where to go/start...I'm lost.

The app we need to work has as target devices the followings: Motorola TC55 and Samsung Galaxy S4 mini

I know for mobile the best is to start designing with the smallest screen. So, in my case, which should be? I'm working with fireworks/photoshop...so I only have the option there to manage px...which size should the screen be? which dpi resolution?

and if you could let me know, how did you arrive to that resolution I would be entirely grateful. I would like to understand android screen way of thinking. =S

Could you help me please?

  • BTW apart from anything else note that literally the "SIZE" (what .. inches?? :) pixels?? devices have not had "pixels" for three generations of screen). What you're looking for is "what RATIO to start with", so, 4:3 or whatever. But as everyone has said, the answer is "everything is reactive now".
    – Fattie
    Oct 26, 2015 at 11:53

4 Answers 4


At the time of writing:

  • Low-end smartphones and older generation smartphones generally have 3.5in screens at 480x320 resolution. For example, Alcatel One Touch Fire (FirefoxOS) and iPhone 3GS (iOS).

  • Mid-range smartphones usually come in with at least a 4in to 4.3in screen and a 800x480 to 540x960 resolution. Examples are Samsung Galaxy S "Mini" series (S Advance, S3 Mini, S4 Mini).

  • Higher-end phones come in 4.7in to 5in, with resolutions that go up as far as 1280x800 to 1080x1920. This would be seen in Samsung Galxy S3 and higher. iPhone has stuck with 4in in the iPhone 5, but is denser (more pixels per inch).

These should be good for starters.


Personally, I would start thinking in physical dimensions these days. With the prevalence of retina screens, pixels are becoming a confusing unit. It's best to start in cm's and worry about pixels later.

My old and cheap phone (HTC Wildfire) has a screen of about 5 by 7 cm (240 by 320 pixels). That's a good place to start. These days, going from there to the modern smartphones (your full HD, 7 inch phablet) is already an exercise in responsive design.

The Android developer guide gives some statistics (up to date to the last month). It shows that this type of phone (small, ldi) has at least 10% of the market, still.

  • Isnt he talking about a native android app? Apr 16, 2014 at 8:20
  • You're absolutely right. I removed the last paragraph. The rest still holds whether you're making a site or an app, I think.
    – Peter
    Apr 16, 2014 at 9:00
  • Physical size is no indication of resolution so it would be impossible to know what size images to serve.
    – Rob
    Apr 16, 2014 at 13:27
  • @Rob This question is about where to start designing. You start with what the user sees in front of them. If you "design" your text size to be 18px, it'll look massive on my crappy phone, and unreadably tiny on a retina screen. You design how it should look, which is the physical size, and you figure out the technical details later.
    – Peter
    Apr 16, 2014 at 20:51

The answer is "reactive" -- you can't really design for a "certain shape" any more, either iOS or Android.

  • Would you please explain your reasoning behind this. I know of many cases of UX designers starting with a specific screen ratio or "shape".
    – JohnGB
    Oct 23, 2015 at 23:39
  • Hey John! I was being a bit extreme, but certainly for either iPhone or Android, I don't think you can realistically (today, right now) design for fixed size, you know? (Certainly in iOS, with storyboard-autolayout, it's getting pretty much impossible, on a purely technical level, to design to a fixed size. You literally put in proportions with springs and bars you know?)
    – Fattie
    Oct 24, 2015 at 17:46
  • The question asks for the screen size to start designing in, not for a single screen size to meet all needs.
    – JohnGB
    Oct 25, 2015 at 22:55
  • as i mention above, I feel "size" is largely meaningless: at best the question is about ratio. As of late 2015, you really can't think in terms of any certain ratio. ("Most people will be using 9:16 (or whatever) phones...") Really - you just can't do it. Designers now think "reactively" .. this will be at the top for 20%, this thing will be one inch off the bottom, and so on.
    – Fattie
    Oct 26, 2015 at 12:07
  • The point of my comment was to get you to add reasoning to your answer, not really to argue about your content. Without any reasoning, it doesn't meet the answer requirements, and as a mod I should remove it. I'm sure that you have reasoning, so I'm giving you the chance to add it.
    – JohnGB
    Oct 27, 2015 at 0:04

I will suggest to get the screen width and height dynamically using simple height and width getting parameters.

Following is the code to do so,

DisplayMetrics displaymetrics = new DisplayMetrics();
    int height = displaymetrics.heightPixels;
    int wwidth = displaymetrics.widthPixels;

Next option is to design for the largest device you're aiming for and then handle it mathematically for respective screen size.

  • Thanks for the answer, but UX.stackexchange is more about what to do, and the reason for doing it, rather than how to implement it. Why would you suggest these approaches?
    – JonW
    Sep 22, 2014 at 11:24

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