iOS App Store Optimization

App Screenshots: Designing Compelling Screenshots for the App Store

iOS App Screenshots make up a large bulk of your App Store visuals. They are usually what people will use to decide if they want to download your app.

Let’s remember that iOS 11 brought a whole new app store layout, which made app screenshots appear slightly different in App Store search and on the product page now.

  • In iOS 11 search, the screenshots appear on a smaller scale, which means that the resolution of the images must be perfect. Plus, the text font must be large enough, so the potential user can read straight from the app search page.
  • In addition, three screenshots are shown on the app search page, which is great. It makes easier to create a story sequence or create a whole image using three screenshots.
  • Thanks to the new layout, you can see more than one app for a scroll in iOS 11 search results. You can see one whole app with its three screenshots, plus a second one almost entirely.
Change in how app screenshots look like in the App Store. App Store realized that app store visuals matter a lot to users, so they made it possible to see more right away.
Change in how app screenshots look like in the App Store 
Source: App Store

Your screenshots should be eye-catching so that people are drawn to your app rather than to the competitors. Bear in mind that if you are using landscape screenshots, only one will be shown on the app search page. If you are using a video, it will be shown in the first screenshot and will autoplay straight on the search page.

Requirements for Screenshots in the Apple App Store

Apple requires at least one screenshot per localization. You can add up to ten screenshots. 

App screenshots have to be flattened JPEG or PNG RGB image files with 72 dpi resolution and without transparency. Additionally, on the Apple App Store they have to respectively fit the specific screen resolutions summarized below.

iOS iPhone App Screenshot Sizes

  • iPhone 4s (3.5 inch)
    • 640 x 920 pixels (portrait without status bar)
    • 640 x 960 pixels (portrait with status bar)
    • 960 x 600 pixels (landscape (without status bar)
    • 960 x 640 pixels (landscape with status bar)
  • iPhone SE (4 inch)
    • 640 x 1096 pixels (portrait without status bar)
    • 640 x 1136 pixels (portrait with status bar)
    • 1136 x 600 pixels (landscape without status bar)
    • 1136 x 640 pixels (landscape with status bar)
  • iPhone 6 + 6s + 7 + 8 (4.7 inch)
    • 750 x 1334 pixels (portrait)
    • 1334 x 750 pixels (landscape)
  • iPhone 6s Plus + 7 Plus + 8 Plus (5.5 inch)
    • 1242 x 2208 pixels (portrait)
    • 2208 x 1242 pixels (landscape)
  • iPhone X + + Xs+ 11 Pro (5.8 inch)
    • 1125 x 2436 pixels (portrait)
    • 2436 x 1125 pixels (landscape)
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone 11, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR (6.5 inch)
    • 1242 x 2688 pixels (portrait)
    • 2688 x 1242 pixels (landscape)

When your iOS app runs on an iPhone, you’ll need to provide screenshots for all of the specs we just listed.

Screenshot sizes also need to be added for iPad specs if your app runs on iPad too.

iPad screenshot sizes are:

  • 12.9 inch (3rd generation iPad Pro)
    • 2048 x 2732 pixels (portrait)
    • 2732 x 2048 pixels (landscape)
  • 12.9 inch (2nd generation iPad Pro)
    • 2048 x 2732 pixels (portrait)
    • 2732 x 2048 pixels (landscape)
  • 11 inch (iPad Pro)
    • 1668 x 2388 pixels (portrait)
    • 2388 x 1668 pixels (landscape)
  • 10.5 inch (7th generation iPad, iPad Pro, iPad Air)
    • 1668 x 2224 pixels (portrait)
    • 2224 x 1668 pixels (landscape)
  • 9.7 inch (iPad, iPad mini)
    • high resolution
      • 1536 x 2008 pixels (portrait without status bar)
      • 1536 x 2048 pixels (portrait with status bar)
      • 2048 x 1496 pixels (landscape without status bar)
      • 2048 x 1536 pixels (landscape with status bar)
    • standard resolution
      • 768 x 1004 pixels (portrait without status bar)
      • 768 x 1024 pixels (portrait with status bar)
      • 1024 x 748 pixels (landscape (without status bar)
      • 1024 x 768 pixels (landscape with status bar)

App Store Screenshot Guidelines

Apple’s guidelines are very specific about showing your app in use. You must have at least one screenshot showing the app itself. You should always show data from a fictional person as you are responsible for all the rights of the material used on your app screenshots

You can add up to 10 screenshots for the Apple App Store. We definitely recommend utilizing every spot. Each screenshot is an added opportunity to show off what your app can do.

Also, the iOS 13 update enables apps to utilize Dark Mode. If your app takes advantage of this feature, make sure you highlight it in your app screenshots too. Apple favors apps that implement iOS features! 

Evernote highlights their Dark Mode and helps users visualize it through their one of their app store visuals, the app screenshots.
Evernote highlights their Dark Mode and helps users visualize it through their app screenshots
Source: Evernote on App Store

Best Practices for Designing iOS App Screenshots

1. Show Off What Your App Can Do

The main purpose of app screenshots is to give App Store visitors a sneak peek of your app. So basically, it’s to show off! 

Apple’s guidelines prohibit any sort of design made outside of the app itself. Your screenshots have to be actual screenshots of in-app pages. Highlight the most engaging screens and most appealing features to capture your audience’s attention. 

Also make sure you’re not overpromising, meaning depicting functionalities that are not actually available in your app. Users will expect your app to behave like what is shown in your app screenshots. If their expectations are not met, they’ll uninstall your app.

Instagram has extremely minimal screenshots but they show exactly what users can do in the app. They use their app store visuals to draw in new users.
Instagram has extremely minimal screenshots but they show exactly what users can do in the app 
Source: Instagram on App Store

2. Emphasize Your App’s Main Features

Apple gives you 10 screenshot slots, which may sound like a lot. But if your app has many different features, you’ll need to narrow it down. Focus on emphasizing your app’s main features. These are the ones that are most frequently used and also most often searched for by users.  

In addition, the text that accompanies each screenshot has to be optimized. It also plays a large role in how your App Store visuals are received. The text should be short and sweet while describing what is going on in the screenshot. Moreover, you should use popular keywords in your screenshots to make your app more appealing to your target audience.

Whatsapp places their optimized keywords into their screenshot designs, maximizing the impact of their App Store visuals.
Whatsapp places their optimized keywords into their screenshot designs 
Source: Whatsapp on App Store

WhatsApp follows this rule. As the app’s purpose mainly is about real-time messaging, they put the screenshot describing this feature at first place. They added text to clearly describe the visualized feature on the particular screenshot.

3. Build a Storyline with Your App Screenshots

The most successful use rich imagery to visually tell a story. This means you should try to reach your visitors with powerful screenshots so that you can engage them to download your app. The story that you should tell is, how your app is going to solve the user’s problem.

Skyscanner App Store screenshots attract users with a story.
Skyscanner App Store screenshots attract users with a story
Source: Skyscanner on App Radar App Store Optimization tool

Skyscanner did some great job designing their screenshot gallery. They not only provide well-designed app visualizations but use them to tell a story. The first screenshot entices App Store visitors to tap through with the phrase “Find your next adventure”. The first screenshot addresses human emotions with compelling imagery and text. Then the following screenshots explain exactly how Skyscanner is going to help its users find their next adventure.

4. Localize Your App Store Screenshots

Apple requires that you have at least one screenshot for every app localization. Localization, especially for screenshots, goes beyond translation. You want to connect with your geo-target market and that means switching up the design to appeal to their regional or cultural preferences. 

TikTok localizes their app screenshots to ensure the app store visuals appeal to different geo-markets
TikTok localizes their app screenshots
Source: TikTok on App Radar App Store Optimization tool

Look at how TikTok managed to create 2 very different sets of screenshots for 2 totally separate geo-markets while staying true to their fun and entertainment focused brand.  

5. Use the right dimensions for all iOS devices

Different mobile devices mean different screen resolutions. You have to add screenshots for every possible iOS screen size. This might get very time consuming if you want to take a screenshot of your app on every available iOS device. A possible workaround could be seen in the following example.

Snapchat uses clean and direct app screenshots to communicate their well-known brand
Snapchat uses clean and direct app screenshots to communicate their well-known brand
Source: Snapchat on App Radar App Store Optimization tool

Snapchat, for example, uses a very efficient approach of providing screenshots for different screen dimensions. They put simple screenshots into matching devices surrounded by an abstract, colored frame. This classic frame delivers a high recognition value and keeps you flexible in designing your screenshots for different screen dimensions. Of course, this imagery especially works excellent, because Snapchat already established its branding.

iOS App Screenshots Summary

App screenshots are critical to getting more downloads from App Store. iOS users, being accustomed to many Apple design focused products, are used to high quality and well-designed apps. Ensure that your app stands out by implementing a clean and understandable but appealing design in your screenshots. 

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Genie is the Marketing Manager at App Radar. She drives exciting in-house campaigns and collaborations to get the word out about app marketing and growth strategies.