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2016-09-20
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Supporting Screens With Different Resolutions, Sizes

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Terms and concepts

Screen size

Actual physical size, measured as the screen's diagonal. For simplicity, Android groups all actual screen sizes into four generalized sizes: small, normal, large, and extra-large.

Screen density

The quantity of pixels within a physical area of the screen; usually referred to as dpi (dots per inch). For example, a "low" density screen has fewer pixels within a given physical area, compared to a "normal" or "high" density screen. For simplicity, Android groups all actual screen densities into six generalized densities: low, medium, high, extra-high, extra-extra-high, and extra-extra-extra-high.

Orientation

The orientation of the screen from the user's point of view. This is either landscape or portrait, meaning that the screen's aspect ratio is either wide or tall, respectively. Be aware that not only do different devices operate in different orientations by default, but the orientation can change at runtime when the user rotates the device. Resolution The total number of physical pixels on a screen. When adding support for multiple screens, applications do not work directly with resolution; applications should be concerned only with screen size and density, as specified by the generalized size and density groups. Density-independent pixel (dp) A virtual pixel unit that you should use when defining UI layout, to express layout dimensions or position in a density-independent way. The density-independent pixel is equivalent to one physical pixel on a 160 dpi screen, which is the baseline density assumed by the system for a "medium" density screen. At runtime, the system transparently handles any scaling of the dp units, as necessary, based on the actual density of the screen in use. The conversion of dp units to screen pixels is simple: px = dp * (dpi / 160). For example, on a 240 dpi screen, 1 dp equals 1.5 physical pixels. You should always use dp units when defining your application's UI, to ensure proper display of your UI on screens with different densities.


Units

  • px

    Pixels - corresponds to actual pixels on the screen.

  • in

    Inches - based on the physical size of the screen. 1 Inch = 2.54 centimeters

  • mm

    Millimeters - based on the physical size of the screen.

  • pt

    Points - 1/72 of an inch based on the physical size of the screen.

  • dp or dip

    Density-independent Pixels - an abstract unit that is based on the physical density of the screen. These units are relative to a 160 dpi screen, so one dp is one pixel on a 160 dpi screen. The ratio of dp-to-pixel will change with the screen density, but not necessarily in direct proportion. Note: The compiler accepts both "dip" and "dp", though "dp" is more consistent with "sp".

  • sp

    Scale-independent Pixels - this is like the dp unit, but it is also scaled by the user's font size preference. It is recommend you use this unit when specifying font sizes, so they will be adjusted for both the screen density and user's preference. From Understanding Density Independence In Android:


UnitDescriptionUnits Per Physical InchDensity IndependentSame Physical Size On Every Screen
pxPixelsVariesNoNo
inInches1YesYes
mmMillimeters25.4YesYes
ptPoints72YesYes
dpDensity Independent Pixels~160YesNo
spScale Independent Pixels~160YesNo

References:

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