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  • The Retina Display


    In yesterday's iPhone 4 announcement, Steve Jobs shoveled a lot of specs at us, particularly regarding the new "Retina Display." The oddly-named screen - an LCD with a pixel density abnormally high for a mobile phone - seems like it will be one of those features, like the iPad's display, that you have to see to appreciate. The iPad was not that impressive when it was first announced, one may remember, but many people were blown away by the screen when they actually saw it with their own eyes.

    The Retina Display's name seems to be either a conscious or unconscious riff on the retinal displays used in virtual reality, where pixels are projected directly on the retina. Steve Jobs also made mention of the fact that the human eye can only discern individual points of light at a density below 300 pixels per inch. This screen, with its pixel density of 326 ppi, is thus supposedly to be as lifelike as a photograph.

    Additionally, the Retina Display employs the same IPS (in-plane switching) technology used in the iPad and Apple LED Cinema Display. With IPS, the crystals are aligned horizontally to the screen rather than vertically, which keeps the crystals parallel to the screen. With normal TFT screens, the crystals turn at right angles relative to the surface, which limits contrast, brightness and color definition as you look at the screen from an angle.

    This screen also has a much higher contrast ratio: at 800:1, the Retina Display has a 4x greater ratio between the darkest black and the brightest white than the current iPhone. This will give improved detail in dark images and videos, and make text display even sharper when combined with the high pixel density.

    Apple says the glass on both the front and back of the iPhone is "Made from the same materials used in helicopters and high-speed trains" and "chemically strengthened to be harder, more scratch resistant, and more durable than ever." We'll have to wait and see, as I'm hard enough on my plastic iPhone... however, "harder than sapphire crystal" is an impressive brag.

    So I still think "iPhone HD" might have been a more appropriate name for this device... but given the number of superlatives Apple is tossing around in their marketing, having it be called just a plain old "Four" takes a bit of the bombast out of it.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: The Retina Display started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 68 Comments
    1. mikerlx's Avatar
      mikerlx -
      We should agree to call it iPhone 4G since we name the first iPhone the 2G how bout that?
    1. PlatoTheForms's Avatar
      PlatoTheForms -
      Quote Originally Posted by skaterbasist View Post
      Where are you guys getting the ram specifications? I haven't been able to find one source indicating whether its 256mb or 512mb
      [ame=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPhone]iPhone - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]
    1. politicalslug's Avatar
      politicalslug -
      Quote Originally Posted by skaterbasist View Post
      Where are you guys getting the ram specifications? I haven't been able to find one source indicating whether its 256mb or 512mb
      The A4 (iPad) was scanned with an x-ray microscope and found to contain (on the SoC) 256mb of RAM. Therefore the A4 in the iPhone 4 will have 256mb of RAM as well. It doesn't matter. I can run Ubuntu on a single-core Pentium4 with 512mb of RAM and it's faster for most tasks than a Core2Duo running Vista with 2GB of RAM. The OS dictates efficiency and how much hardware is needed for decent performance. Android and WinMo both benefit from more RAM because they're horribly inefficient. Those of US that have been backgrounding since day 1 know that the 3GS outperforms the 3G, while background many apps (in a horribly inefficient way - backgrounder) and yet still can use less than 128MB of RAM (unless you're using a nav app or playing a game). No matter what you're doing on your iPhone, you won't need more than 256MB of RAM at any point. Not with backgrounder, and certainly not with the iOS4's services method of backgrounding.
    1. Moosestache's Avatar
      Moosestache -
      But but but...512 is more so I need it. Damn your reasoning skills.
    1. Happy Noodle Boy's Avatar
      Happy Noodle Boy -
      I'm on my phone so I can't throw infractions like an angry God but I will start if people don't stop calling iPhone 4G or HD. Call it what it is, iPhone 4 or 4th gen iPhone. Or just iPhone.

      It isn't a 4G phone and calling the 1st gen iPhone the 2G has always be stupid. What are you all going to call the next one, 5G?

      iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, and now iPhone 4.
    1. ziggie216's Avatar
      ziggie216 -
      Apple says the glass on both the front and back of the iPhone is "Made from the same materials used in helicopters and high-speed trains" and "chemically strengthened to be harder, more scratch resistant, and more durable than ever."
      I would love to use my iPhone w/o the screen protector since I hate the plastic feeling. Anyone want to be the lab rat when you receive your iPhone 4? Take your keys and rub against the screen for awhile, let see how well it will hold up.
    1. clarky8's Avatar
      clarky8 -
      This does sound pretty impressive
    1. unison999's Avatar
      unison999 -
      I scratched my Tag Heuer watch crystal face, that is stronger than this iPhone glass.
    1. Mp3Supply's Avatar
      Mp3Supply -
      Quote Originally Posted by Eagleye View Post
      WOW. Thats the picture i've been looking for. Thats freakin NUTS.
      ditto.. .. .
    1. salmedina87's Avatar
      salmedina87 -
      Does anyone know if Apple stores will carry the iPhone 4 for display prior to its release date? Would make it easier for me to decide if I should preorder.
    1. cpkirkley's Avatar
      cpkirkley -
      Quote Originally Posted by adp View Post
      How many apps could you possibly want to run simultaneously to need more than 256mb? A normal app requires less than 10mb. So unless you're interested in killing your battery, 256 should be enough
      If apple was serious about getting "serious" with gaming, 256 MB is a total fail in that regard.

      256 would be a nice upgrade and yield great results if the resolution had stayed the same. Bumping the CPU and res is awesome, but capping ram at such a low level is going to hurt them. In the gaming space, at least.
    1. NCMacMan's Avatar
      NCMacMan -
      Call me impressed! I can't wait for this to come out -- the best thing is that my 2 years are up and that my phone is paid for by my company. Christmas in June!
    1. MetallicaFan1991's Avatar
      MetallicaFan1991 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mikerlx View Post
      We should agree to call it iPhone 4G since we name the first iPhone the 2G how bout that?
      Are you joking?? It's clearly called iPhone 4, why would it be 4G when it doesn't have 4G and Apple called it iPhone 4.
    1. Turb02's Avatar
      Turb02 -
      did anyone see on ATT website last night that the price was lowered? the 32GB was listed on the main page for 199 with 2 year contract and the 16 was 149. I looked today and cannot find that ANYWHERE. im merely asking so I can tell myself im not going crazy.

      And to go way off the traditional naming convention I think we should call it IOS 4G Gorilla sex... because its got IOS4, its the 4th gen iPhone, has gorilla glass, and DAMN its sexy.
    1. whereswaldo's Avatar
      whereswaldo -
      so if the human eye can only see 300 pixels per inch, does that mean that 26 pixels are being wasted every inch?
    1. mvhurlburt's Avatar
      mvhurlburt -
      Hmm this seems like it will be an interesting technology. While I have been happy with my 3GS' display for the most part(It has trouble rendering CMYK images....the greens and blues always seem to be off) I certainly wouldn't mind the extra detail. I suspect, as previously mentioned, that to truly appreciate this one must experience it rather than merely reading the stats.....
    1. knguyen's Avatar
      knguyen -
      Quote Originally Posted by iPhone3G[S] View Post
      You missed the important part of that. You can see about 300ppi at about 12-15in away from your eye...
      Well a normal person will hold their phone about 10-12 inches from their eyes.
    1. dr0herb's Avatar
      dr0herb -
      looks cool
    1. CMOSlabs's Avatar
      CMOSlabs -
      Holding out for the"scratch & sniff" HD screen
      Waiting to pre-order. When will that option be on att's website?
    1. jabregousmc's Avatar
      jabregousmc -
      Quote Originally Posted by Turb02 View Post
      did anyone see on ATT website last night that the price was lowered? the 32GB was listed on the main page for 199 with 2 year contract and the 16 was 149. I looked today and cannot find that ANYWHERE. im merely asking so I can tell myself im not going crazy...
      you're not crazy...well you're sort of crazy. it was the 3gS that is 199 and 149.

      iPhone 4 & 3GS, Exclusively from AT&T and Apple - Wireless from AT&T