The Retina Display is a display technology developed by Apple Inc. for use in its mobile devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Pro. It has revolutionized the way people view images and videos on their devices, offering a sharpness and clarity that was previously impossible.
What is a ‘Retina’ display, and why it matters
Steve Jobs’ introduction of the Retina display was an incredibly huge leap forward in visual technology. It meant that users would be able to experience incredible image quality from their Apple devices, and it enabled Apple to create a new segment of its product line with significantly higher resolution than the average desktop computer at the time. With this technology, the images seemed almost life-like, and the lack of blurring or fuzzy elements made for extremely sharp visuals. It is no wonder why this innovation has been wildly popular even today, despite other platforms struggling sometimes to make it work properly.
The Retina display itself has been around since 2010 but has been continuously improved upon as newer models are released. Its current iteration on iPhones creates some of the best displays available, boasting 326 pixels per inch on a 5.8” OLED panel making bright colors and sharp edges look almost natural in theme. It also supports Dolby Vision HDR10 HDR10+ making those blacks look deeper than night while still providing enough contrast to see smaller details most don’t deem necessary at first glance. All together these features put together technologies allowing us to see our screens as close to compared to real life as ever before– giving us every opportunity to take advantage of all there.
Display resolution and pixel density
Display resolution is an important factor when considering the display quality of a device, as it dictates how sharp and detailed the image is. The resolution is determined by the number of horizontal pixels multiplied by the number of vertical pixels and can be specified in total pixel count or with its aspect ratio. Generally, a higher resolution means more detail can be shown on screen, making for a better viewing experience. A full HD monitor typically has a resolution of 1920 x 1080, resulting in over two million pixels displayed on the screen.
The second concept relating to display size and quality is pixel density, which affects sharpness and clarity. Pixel density is measured in term of pixels per inch (ppi) and provides an indication of crispness; devices with higher ppi have sharper displays due to their greater amount of pixels within the same area. This opens up opportunities for manufacturers to fit bigger screens into smaller form factors without compromising display quality due to maintaining a high enough ppi level. Generally speaking, devices with high resolution packed into small displays should feature higher ppi values.
The definition of “Retina”
The idea of a Retina display is essential to the success of many modern devices including smartphones and laptops. According to Steve Jobs, a Retina display should offer 300 pixels per inch (ppi) at a distance of 10-12 inches from the eye. With this level of detail, Apple argued that images would look as real and detailed as they do in reality. This philosophy was used when designing the iPhone 4, which offered 960 x 640 resolution across its 3.5-inch screen – four times that of its predecessor – resulting in 326 ppi.
By exponentially raising the pixel density and image detail, Apple created a more realistic visual journey for users compared to older models with lower resolutions and poorer image quality. Thanks to their innovative Retina display technology, consumers can enjoy higher-resolution photos, videos, 3D games, web browsing and other activities without having to distinguish between separate pixels on screen. It’s no wonder why Jobs considered the iPhone 4’s display comfortably over the limit defined by the human retina.
Apple’s display terminology
Apple’s display terms often get interchangeably used, but they all refer to something different. The “Liquid Retina” displays made by the company are Retina IPS LCDs that utilize unique technologies to differentiate them from OLED screens. The technology also powers iPhone XR, Apple’s first device with a Liquid Retina IPS LCD panel.
The Cupertino-based tech giant then introduced its “Liquid Retina XDR” displays, which are essentially high-end IPS LED panels with an Extreme Dynamic Range that offers a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1. This is enabled by a mini-LED backlighting system used by the company for these displays. Apple also designed a 60Hz “ProMotion” feature to dynamically switch the refresh rate between 10 and 120 Hz, depending on the task at hand. Finally, there are two types of “Retina” resolutions – 4K and 5K – referring to different sizes (21.5-inch and 27-inch respectively). Each has its own pixel count (4096 x 2304 and 5120 x 2880) that make it unique from the others in terms of performance and visuals.