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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. Vandale's Avatar
      Vandale -
      wow now i cannot wait till get one of these iphone 4's !
    1. iPhone3G[S]'s Avatar
      iPhone3G[S] -
      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.
      You missed the important part of that. You can see about 300ppi at about 12-15in away from your eye...
    1. Luppin's Avatar
      Luppin -
      Fun fact: one pixel on the iPhone 4 is smaller than the width of a human hair
    1. cphase's Avatar
      cphase -
      The specs on this display are impressive. I hope it handles well under direct sunlight (a thing where the Nexus One fails miserably).
    1. nautical79's Avatar
      nautical79 -
      Thay spend to much time on developing this iphone that they forgot to give it a proper name, wonder if the name its gona change once the firmware 5.0 comes out, sorry the ios5
    1. tgabriel123's Avatar
      tgabriel123 -
      There's already a phone called "something" HD (don't remember what it is though) but that is why apple didn't name it "iPhone HD"
    1. Maarten16's Avatar
      Maarten16 -
      ^ HTC HD and HTC HD2? lol
    1. Eagleye's Avatar
      Eagleye -
      I cant wait to see this screen in person... Sounds pretty impressive. They only thing I keep thinking of is how this phone will be like after a few months of use. I already see things like hair and lint and that sticky gross black stuff that was on the monkey bars and in McDonald's play lands getting trapped around the stainless steel "antenna." ...Constantly picking at it and tracing the outline of the glass with a toothpick because I have OCD.

      And I couldnt agree more with iPhone HD. Thats a lot more impressive sounding than iPhone 4. Maybe they're saving the iPhone HD name for a later iPhone?
    1. Hrethgir's Avatar
      Hrethgir -
      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.
    1. durdan1's Avatar
      durdan1 -
      I wonder who will be the first to try to smash the iphone for youtube attention. I would like to see how much of a beating it can take. I know they had a hard time with ipad.
    1. cpkirkley's Avatar
      cpkirkley -
      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.
      Please expound.
    1. Eagleye's Avatar
      Eagleye -
      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.
      I really dont think they'll have problems with it getting broken. It seems incredibly durable unlike ordinary glass.

      Take a look here at the stress tests --> Gorilla Glass - ?? - ???? - ????

      You can see when they drop the glass it does not break.. it sort of bounces... so its more like plexi-glass than glass-glass. Do you think you're the only person to think that glass on a phone might break? Everyone knows Apple had fun chucking iPhone 4's at the pavement for stress tests to see if that was going to happen. Either that, or they gave a few to AT&T rehab customers who are recovering with Verizon to throw around. ("VERIZON!!"... haha, good keynote!)

      And hey, i wonder since its all glass, why not a clear iPhone 4 body? Now THAT would be cool!
    1. Happy Noodle Boy's Avatar
      Happy Noodle Boy -
      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.
    1. Eagleye's Avatar
      Eagleye -
      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.
      WOW. Thats the picture i've been looking for. Thats freakin NUTS.
    1. MetallicaFan1991's Avatar
      MetallicaFan1991 -
      The display and HD video recording is enough for me to buy it even though the 256MB of ram was holding me back.
    1. Hrethgir's Avatar
      Hrethgir -
      Quote Originally Posted by cpkirkley View Post
      Please expound.
      Gorilla Glass is glass. Glass breaks. I know it's stronger and tougher than regular glass, but it's not "unbreakable." I've seen several pictures of HTC Droid incredibles and Motorola Droids, both phones with Gorilla Glass screens, that have been dropped, resulting in a cracked screen. So, to expand, having something that cracks or breaks like that for a phone body seems like a poor idea to me. And yes, I know plastic can also crack or break, but being more flexible, it can absord the shock better. Gorilla Glass is very scratch resistant and makes for a great screen, but I don't see why it's being used for the back, too.
    1. adp's Avatar
      adp -
      Quote Originally Posted by MetallicaFan1991 View Post
      The display and HD video recording is enough for me to buy it even though the 256MB of ram was holding me back.
      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
    1. PlatoTheForms's Avatar
      PlatoTheForms -
      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.
      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.

      Quote Originally Posted by MetallicaFan1991 View Post
      The display and HD video recording is enough for me to buy it even though the 256MB of ram was holding me back.
      Don't let that fool you bro, 256 is plenty for the iPhone. Other phones have more because they have OSs that are hardware hogs.
    1. Ray661's Avatar
      Ray661 -
      with the new backgrounding services, ram shouldn't even be an issue
    1. skaterbasist's Avatar
      skaterbasist -
      Where are you guys getting the ram specifications? I haven't been able to find one source indicating whether its 256mb or 512mb