Earlier this month we brought an issue to your attention with regards to the size of Apple’s new Retina apps and the 20MB 3G download limit. The issue is that these apps would be too large to download over 3G or LTE connections as they would double or triple in size.

After an increase in download cap was reported by Appadvice, we went on to  confirm that the download limit over 3G and LTE connections has been raised to 50MB. This applies to apps, music and video downloads from the App Store and iTunes Store.

Photo Mar 07 12 19 42 PM 520x780 Why the Retina display is responsible for Apple boosting the 3G app and media download limit to 50MB

We explain the issue here:

Due to the sizes of the images, apps that use custom graphics could double in size, pushing many that are just under Apple’s 20MB download limit for 3G connections right over the top.

To give you an idea, we asked Bjango’s Marc Edwards about how the new Retina graphics would affect the size of one of its latest apps, Consume. He gave us these statistics regarding the app’s packages:

  • iPhone (Retina and non-Retina), iPad (non-Retina) = 18.3MB
  • iPhone (Retina and non-Retina), iPad (Retina and non-Retina) = ~35MB

This causes a problem mostly for universal apps that are offered as a single download for both iPhone and iPad. See, on an iPhone the impact of the casual downloader, who sees an app and has to have it right then, cannot be discounted. These users probably grab the majority of their apps over their 3G connection on an impulse.

In order for them to do this, the apps must come in under the 20MB limit that Apple imposes on apps. Otherwise they face a loss in downloads that many developers say could be significant. Most do everything in their power to come in under that limit if at all possible.

We conjectured at the time that Apple would use its leverage with the carriers to force the issue and upgrade the 3G (and now LTE) download limit. Looks like it did just that.