Difference Between Aspect Ratio and Resolution

Two terminologies have been introduced to measure the dimensions of any frame (static images, GIFs, and videos), which may be confusing for some individuals.


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The phrases aspect ratio and resolution are separate terms that describe media’s dimensions on various screens based on the screen size. Moreover, both affect each other while measuring the dimensions.

Aspect Ratio vs Resolution

The difference between aspect ratio and resolution is that the aspect ratio of a piece of media is the proportion of its width to its length. On the other hand, resolution means the total number of pixels present in the media displayed on different screens (television, smartphones, computer). The higher the number of pixels better is the quality.

Aspect Ratio vs Resolution

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Aspect Ratio was devised by William Dickson, a former employee of Thomas Edison who invented the 4:3 ratio for regular television.

Frame dimensions can be expressed in two integers or decimal values (x,y), where x is the frame’s width, and y is the frame’s length. Moreover, the aspect ratios are not the frame’s original dimensions but rather the lowered ratios.

Resolution means how many pixels are present in any frame to display on the screen. Like aspect ratio, the resolution or screen resolution can also be expressed in two dimensions (horizontal and vertical).

It means the first dimension is the number of pixels present horizontally, and the second dimension signifies the number of pixels displayed vertically.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAspect RatioResolution
DefinitionAspect Ratio is a ratio between the width and length of the frame.Resolution means the number of pixels that constructs the entire frame.
PurposeAspect Ratio is for defining whether the image is spread horizontally or vertically.Resolution is for defining the quality of the media (low and high).
Recommended SizeThe recommended sizes of aspect ratio are either 1:1 or 4:3 (for square display).The recommended sizes of resolution of the media are either 1920 x 1080 or 3840 x 2160.
How to UnderstandIf the aspect ratio is 4:3 then the width is four times and height is three times for the square screen.If the resolution is 1920 x 1080, the number of pixels is 1920 horizontally and 1080 vertically.
How to CheckDivide the width of the media by the height, and the remaining ratio is the aspect ratio.It is mentioned in the properties of the media in terms of pixels.

What is an Aspect Ratio?

An aspect ratio is the ratio of the media in terms of width and length. It defines whether the media is a rectangular or square shape. Moreover, it also signifies whether the image is spreading width-wise or height-wise.

This concept was introduced by William Kennedy Dickson (a Scottish man behind the invention of motion picture cameras). So, he declared that the size of the motion picture should be in the ratio of 4:3 that is 1.33:1 in 1892.

At the time, screens were square (Cathode Ray Tube televisions). Moreover, cameras too captured the media having a 4:3 ratio. The other ratio decided was 1:1.

After that, when evolution came in the quality and size of the screen, HD (High Definition) devices were invented.

The recommended aspect ratio was adjusted with the invention of HD TV in 1979 (almost a century after the invention of aspect ratio), as the screen gradually became broader.

Although a new aspect ratio, 16:10, was introduced with the debut of the LCD (liquid crystal display), it did not become a standard aspect ratio.

After the invention of LEDs (light-emitting diode), its aspect ratio was 16:9, which even became the standard ratio for displaying an excellent resolution media.

It is straightforward to calculate the aspect ratio of rectangular and square media by dividing the width by the height. Aspect ratios of elliptical media are calculated by dividing the major axis by the minor axis.

What is Resolution?

A media’s resolution is defined as the number of pixels it contains in terms of width and length. The pixel is the smallest unit of the media.

Every media is created by combining millions of pixels. The pixel starts stretching up if the pixels in the image are smaller than its aspect ratio.

It results in blurred images which means the resolution of the frame is low if it consists of fewer pixels and vice-versa. It also recommends that pixels should be aligned in a straight line horizontally and vertically.

If pixels are not aligned in a straight line, the image’s resolution is low, resulting in a blur effect.

When the standard aspect ratio was 4:3 that time suggested resolution for a better quality of media was 800 X 600 (800 horizontal and 600 vertical). It was for square displays.

WXGA media (for watching DVDs and working on business documents) has a standard resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels.

Otherwise, the pixel size for showing high-definition movies on LEDs must be 1920 x 1080, and for ultra HD quality, the resolution of media must be 3840 and 2160.

Moreover, to show motion pictures, it is necessary to display 30 frames per second, and static images should be at least 2 Megapixels for HD screens.

Main Differences Between Aspect Ratio and Resolution

  1. The aspect ratio of the media is the ratio of width and length. On the other hand, resolution means how many pixels are present in the media.
  2. The aspect ratio of the display screen determines whether an image is rectangular or square. On the contrary, resolution defines the quality of the media.
  3. The aspect ratio for the square display is either 4:3 or 1:1. However, the pixel size for the squarish display must be at least 800 x 600.
  4. The aspect ratio for the rectangle display is 16:9. However, the resolution for the rectangular display must be at least 1920 x 1080.
  5. The aspect ratio is calculated by the division method. On the contrary, the resolution of the media is indicated in its specifications or can be calculated using the formula (divide one million pixels by a total number of pixels).
Difference Between Aspect Ratio and Resolution
  1. https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms5243?origin=ppub
  2. https://www.spiedigitallibrary.org/conference-proceedings-of-spie/2438/0000/High-aspect-ratio-resist-for-thick-film-applications/10.1117/12.210413.short
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