iPhone 4's Retina display explained

The iPhone 4 promises to offer picture quality so high that your eye won't even be able to distinguish individual pixels.

During today's introduction of the iPhone 4, Steve Jobs detailed that the upcoming device will make use of what Apple calls the Retina display .

But what exactly is a Retina display and how will it, along with other screen technologies, benefit the new slimmer, HD-ready iPhone? To put it simply, Apple's figurative Retina display is an LCD that boasts a super high pixel density by squeezing a 960-by-640-pixel resolution into 3.5 inches--a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch (ppi).

iPhone 4's Retina display explained

A close-up photo of an icon on the iPhone 4's screen.

iPhone 4's Retina display explained

By comparison, the same icon on an iPhone 3GS.

The Retina display has four times the number of pixels as previous iPhones; its screen size is unchanged, resulting in double the pixel density. When compared to the now US$99 iPhone 3GS, which has a 163ppi screen with a 480-by-320 resolution, it's easy to imagine just how this new screen will shine.

While talking about the new display, Steve Jobs went on to detail that after a certain point the human eye fails to distinguish individual pixels. According to the Apple CEO this "magic number," when visible pixelation is no more, is around 300ppi. Therefore, with the iPhone 4's screen coming in at more than 300 pixels per inch (326ppi) the display will supposedly always looks smooth and crisp, with no jaggies in sight.

The photos above, taken by PCWorld Senior Editor Melissa J. Perenson, show an icon on an iPhone 4's screen compared to the same icon on the iPhone 3GS's screen. The difference, as you can see, is pretty remarkable.

Apple's retina display also promises an improved contrast ratio. The company claims that the upcoming iPhone 4 will have a contrast ratio four times higher than that of previous models. Beyond the use of more compact pixels the screen, which is a backlit LED, will also adopt In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology to improve viewing angles and enhance color display.

Apple isn't the first to put a super-high-resolution screen in a smartphone. Google's Nexus One, for example, features an OLED screen with a resolution of 800-by-480 pixels, but its subpixel arrangement has some issues.

Like this? You may also enjoy...

Follow Chris Brandrick and GeekTech on Twitter.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags mobile phonesiPhonesmartphonesiphone 4

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Chris Brandrick

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?