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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. szfebje's Avatar
      szfebje -
      idiots are complaining about wasted pixels, this retina display is awesome, but it's actually a bi-product of Apple's linearity, 960x640 is exactly double the current resolution of the current gen iPhone's, so apps don't have to be re-written, which is a VERY smart and wise move, saves devs a ton of trouble, it's not like apple set out to have more ppi then your eye can perceive... know what the hell you're complaining about before you start complaining
    1. jabregousmc's Avatar
      jabregousmc -
      ^lol true story
    1. Poseidon79's Avatar
      Poseidon79 -
      Quote Originally Posted by szfebje View Post
      idiots are complaining about wasted pixels, this retina display is awesome, but it's actually a bi-product of Apple's linearity, 960x640 is exactly double the current resolution of the current gen iPhone's, so apps don't have to be re-written, which is a VERY smart and wise move, saves devs a ton of trouble, it's not like apple set out to have more ppi then your eye can perceive... know what the hell you're complaining about before you start complaining
      Short, sweet, to the point, and well thought out... I like you! Keep it up.
    1. adp's Avatar
      adp -
      Quote Originally Posted by cpkirkley View Post
      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.
      I highly doubt they'll be a game designed for the iPhone itself which would require 256mb of ram. At least not in the near future. If there's a game that required such specs, it would murder the battery in a few minutes anyway
    1. wareagle5693's Avatar
      wareagle5693 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Hrethgir View Post
      So the front and the back of the phone are made from glass? Looks to be aluminosilicate glass, which is actually Gorilla Glass, and it will break if dropped. This seems like a really odd idea for the body of the phone. I wonder how long till we get pics of iPhone 4's that have been dropped and the whole body has cracked.
      obviously the front is made of glass..... and hmm i doubt it will, considering what he's said it's made of, sounds nothing like this 'gorilla glass' you speak of...
    1. lfc_'s Avatar
      lfc_ -
      iPhone games will never need more then 256mb RAM. At least not for years still

      Prince of Persia: WW only takes up less then 60mb RAM and that's a full PS2 port

      Cod:zombies takes up 80mb RAM roughly on high settings

      still got just under 100 left to use
    1. szfebje's Avatar
      szfebje -
      Guess some people will still complain about not being able to max Crysis on the iPhone...
    1. Cory Gillmore's Avatar
      Cory Gillmore -
      EVO 4G FTW!!!!!!!!!



      Haha JK. I can't wait till this thing appears on my doorstep on the 24th.
    1. Happy Noodle Boy's Avatar
      Happy Noodle Boy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Hrethgir View Post
      So the front and the back of the phone are made from glass? Looks to be aluminosilicate glass, which is actually Gorilla Glass, and it will break if dropped. This seems like a really odd idea for the body of the phone. I wonder how long till we get pics of iPhone 4's that have been dropped and the whole body has cracked.
      Dell Streak's Gorilla Glass screen: torture tested for your amusement (video) -- Engadget

      Stabbity stab stab.
    1. Carlos's Avatar
      Carlos -
      honestly i think they didnt name it HD for a reason....they may have a phone coming out in the near future with 1080P is what im thinkin and then HD would be more appropriate
    1. iPhone3G[S]'s Avatar
      iPhone3G[S] -
      Quote Originally Posted by Carlos View Post
      honestly i think they didnt name it HD for a reason....they may have a phone coming out in the near future with 1080P is what im thinkin and then HD would be more appropriate
      720P is HD...

      Quote Originally Posted by whereswaldo View Post
      so if the human eye can only see 300 pixels per inch, does that mean that 26 pixels are being wasted every inch?
      No, the OP forgot to mention the human eye can see 300ppi at about 12-15in from your eye...

      The closer you get the more you can see.
    1. cpkirkley's Avatar
      cpkirkley -
      Quote Originally Posted by adp View Post
      I highly doubt they'll be a game designed for the iPhone itself which would require 256mb of ram. At least not in the near future. If there's a game that required such specs, it would murder the battery in a few minutes anyway
      Youre right, but Jobs said himself that he is looking for Apple to really dig into the games arena. If thats what he wants than this decision begs to be questioned. If they want the iOS to even come CLOSE to the new offerings from nintendo and sony, the system memory would have to be at the minimum 384. Other wise the performance gap is going to be too big for the iphone/itouch to ever compete with. DS and PSP will continue to be regarded as the TRUE portable gaming system, with Apple middling along in the space somewhere in between sudoku and hero of sparta. Or worse, it will be the Wii compared to X360/PS3.

      As great as the game ended up being, I'm hardly considering trading in my PSPGo (and Gran Turismo...) for Real Racing.

      Where the argument could be made that the 3gs could push pixels as well as the DSi, the new generation 3DS will probably crap on the iPhone 4 from a gameplaying standpoint.
    1. Faxmonkey's Avatar
      Faxmonkey -
      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...
      I believe he said 10-12 inches.

      At any rate, I appreciate the higher quality display but I hate the dumb marketing calling it a 'retina' display. Sheesh. Leave it to Apple . . . There's plenty of descriptive terms that actually mean something, instead of just sounding like something. Why make up terms? It's like Apple just assumes we're all too dumb to understand the concept of resolution or PPI and so we get nonsense marketing words instead.

      As for the glass, I'm very interested to see some scratch tests on one of these things once they're out in the wild. Maybe one of the leaked Vietnamese prototypes can be tested. If this is as durable as Gorilla Glass, I'll be pretty happy/impressed. Sapphire is a 9 out of 10 on the Mohs scale, so theoretically something "comparable to" sapphire should be very hard to scratch indeed.

      I was googling to find more information about the glass and found this comment. Who knows how accurate the guy is:

      "It's aluminosilicate glass or Al₂SiO₅ with a hardness of about 7 (Mohs scale) at best.

      Sapphire crystal is Al₂O₃, which has a hardness of 9. So it's hard, but not that hard."
    1. Hrethgir's Avatar
      Hrethgir -
      Quote Originally Posted by wareagle5693 View Post
      obviously the front is made of glass..... and hmm i doubt it will, considering what he's said it's made of, sounds nothing like this 'gorilla glass' you speak of...

      Apple - iPhone 4 - Design of the display, A4 processor, and more

      "All the breakthrough technology in iPhone 4 is situated between two glossy panels of aluminosilicate glass...."


      Gorilla Glass | Home

      "Corning’s Gorilla® Glass is an environmentally friendly alkali-aluminosilicate thin sheet glass designed specifically to function as a protective cover glass for high-end display devices such as notebook PCs, televisions and mobile phones."


      Sounds like the same stuff to me. The case is probably thicker than the screen covers, but glass is still glass and while it may be stronger, it's also usually more brittle, meaning that instead of giving, it will hold until it hits its limit, and then breaks. And with glass, it doesn't always take a hard hit, just the right hit. I used to work with auto glass, and you can hit a tempered piece of glass as hard as you can in the middle with a hammer and it will bounce off, but drop that same piece of glass 6 inches onto a corner, and it shatters.




      Quote Originally Posted by Happy Noodle Boy View Post

      I've seen that, and it's impressive, but like I said above, the center and the edge are are different. Here's an HTC Droid Incredible dropped from waist high and landing on the concrete screen-down with Gorilla Glass screen:

      Another one bites the dust.... - Android Forums

    1. s4mb4's Avatar
      s4mb4 -
      Quote Originally Posted by whereswaldo View Post
      so if the human eye can only see 300 pixels per inch, does that mean that 26 pixels are being wasted every inch?
      no, those pixels are used to send the subliminal messages.
    1. zoso10's Avatar
      zoso10 -
      didn't they mention that in the keynote as one of the 100 new features? Hidden pixel messages
    1. cpkirkley's Avatar
      cpkirkley -
      Quote Originally Posted by lfc_ View Post
      iPhone games will never need more then 256mb RAM. At least not for years still

      Prince of Persia: WW only takes up less then 60mb RAM and that's a full PS2 port

      Cod:zombies takes up 80mb RAM roughly on high settings

      still got just under 100 left to use
      How about SF4? Its also worth nothing that all that characters arent in that game. Forget years down the road - Apple seems to be making this push NOW. They are aggressively marketing the next generation of iDevices as full on replacements of dedicated mobile gaming systems - all while being everything else that iPhones have become. While I wont dispute that iOS is a viable choice for some gamers, those that are looking to see if the new iDevices can bring the same experience that the other systems can will take note when comparing the products.

      iPhones are being pushed as "Do Everything" type of devices. While its great to say that, you also have to concede that while its a jack of all trades, it is a master of none.

      Its not about running Crysis on Max settings on your phone, either. I'm saying that if this new iPhone is supposed to be a rival of a PSP or DS, then dumbed down ports of street fighter and hi-resolution versions of Zen Bound are not going to cut it.
    1. s4mb4's Avatar
      s4mb4 -
      Quote Originally Posted by cpkirkley View Post
      How about SF4? Its also worth nothing that all that characters arent in that game. Forget years down the road - Apple seems to be making this push NOW. They are aggressively marketing the next generation of iDevices as full on replacements of dedicated mobile gaming systems - all while being everything else that iPhones have become. While I wont dispute that iOS is a viable choice for some gamers, those that are looking to see if the new iDevices can bring the same experience that the other systems can will take note when comparing the products.

      iPhones are being pushed as "Do Everything" type of devices. While its great to say that, you also have to concede that while its a jack of all trades, it is a master of none.

      Its not about running Crysis on Max settings on your phone, either. I'm saying that if this new iPhone is supposed to be a rival of a PSP or DS, then dumbed down ports of street fighter and hi-resolution versions of Zen Bound are not going to cut it.
      lol at this comment....
      i have 3 DSi's, 2 PSP, 2 Wii's, and a PS2 in my house. my kids don't look at any of them anymore. Why? They all have 3rd Gen 32GB iPod touches....
    1. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Happy Noodle Boy View Post
      Side by side with a 3GS screen:

      http://www.mobilecrunch.com/wp-conte...6/DSC_0230.jpg

      4 on the left, 3Gs on the right.
      O M G

      I need new underwear...

      Quote Originally Posted by s4mb4 View Post
      lol at this comment....
      i have 3 DSi's, 2 PSP, 2 Wii's, and a PS2 in my house. my kids don't look at any of them anymore. Why? They all have 3rd Gen 32GB iPod touches....
      No offense to you or your kids, but they aren't really gamers if your statement is true...

      Quote Originally Posted by Faxmonkey View Post
      I believe he said 10-12 inches.

      At any rate, I appreciate the higher quality display but I hate the dumb marketing calling it a 'retina' display. Sheesh. Leave it to Apple . . . There's plenty of descriptive terms that actually mean something, instead of just sounding like something. Why make up terms? It's like Apple just assumes we're all too dumb to understand the concept of resolution or PPI and so we get nonsense marketing words instead.
      You forgot that Apple's main selling point of OSX these past years was "Too stupid to use a Windows based PC? Buy an intuitive Mac"

      Quote Originally Posted by salmedina87 View Post
      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.
      This is almost definitely a "no" just based on the track record of every other product they have sold. They never get display products before they sell them. In most cases, the displays come a week or two AFTER launch to try and keep up with initial demand.

      Quote Originally Posted by PlatoTheForms View Post
      when i look at my iphone, it doesn't look as pixelated as that 3gs screenshot. One would have to have the iphone 3 inches from their eyes to appreciate the new improvement; at least thats what it looks like for photos and videos. Perhaps for games, reading and other apps, the improvements of the new screen can be more pronounced. I admit though, that the hardness and durability of the screen is impressive.
      Have you looked at the iPhone (3GS and lower) compared to the new droid? THAT is the difference you will see. I DEFINITELY see a difference.
    1. lfc_'s Avatar
      lfc_ -
      Quote Originally Posted by cpkirkley View Post
      How about SF4? Its also worth nothing that all that characters arent in that game. Forget years down the road - Apple seems to be making this push NOW. They are aggressively marketing the next generation of iDevices as full on replacements of dedicated mobile gaming systems - all while being everything else that iPhones have become. While I wont dispute that iOS is a viable choice for some gamers, those that are looking to see if the new iDevices can bring the same experience that the other systems can will take note when comparing the products.

      iPhones are being pushed as "Do Everything" type of devices. While its great to say that, you also have to concede that while its a jack of all trades, it is a master of none.

      Its not about running Crysis on Max settings on your phone, either. I'm saying that if this new iPhone is supposed to be a rival of a PSP or DS, then dumbed down ports of street fighter and hi-resolution versions of Zen Bound are not going to cut it.
      SF4 still only uses 90mb of RAM. just under 90mb left to use. i dont see any game using 180mb of RAM on an iPhone for years

      your not going to see the iPhone compete as a proper gaming device for years for one simple reason. ill even quote you

      iPhones are being pushed as "Do Everything" type of devices.
      IF they made the iPhone's main focus as a gaming machine or even made a giant push towards it, then they would be sacrificing its main purpose. to be a phone.
      people dont want over sized or over heavy phones weighing down their pockets.
      touch screen controls aren't the easiest thing to use for gaming.. they work.. but that's as far as it goes
      and if apple were to put in a big push for gaming, their price would also go way up which would deter a lot more people from buying it

      i dont think apple is pushing their gaming industry right now, at least not so much hardware wise. i just think their keeping up with their competition currently. eventually they will make the leap above and beyond the rest but not yet

      personally i dont think the iPhone is being marketed as a gaming device. i think iPod Touch is

      iPhone = your general purpose, social, miscellaneous device
      iPod Touch = your gaming and media device (music, video, internet etc.)
      iPad = your business or simple laptop replacement (recreation) device
      iPod = your media device (music and video)