How Apple’s iPhone 4’s unmatched ultra-high-resolution Multi-Touch™ Retina display works

“Steve Jobs dazzled the crowd Monday with one of the iPhone 4’s snazziest features: an ultra-high-resolution display that puts to shame any other cell phone on the market,” Christopher Null reports for Yahoo! News.

“With a resolution of 960 x 640 pixels, the iPhone 4 crams more graphical ability into a 3.5-inch diagonal space than any other gizmo on earth,” Null reports. “With a density of 326 pixels per inch, Jobs claims it’s better than the human eye can even detect at a standard viewing distance. In other words, if Jobs is correct, you’ll have to hold the phone right up to your face to see the iPhone 4’s pixels at all.”

“iPhone 4 has more than just raw pixels. Apple is also touting its optical lamination process, which basically adheres the glass directly on top of the LCD so there’s no gap between the two,” Null reports. “As Displayblog explains, this ‘improves sharpness and clarity of the display by eliminating light refraction, which is caused by the small distance between the glass surface and the LCD that exists on pre-4 iPhones.'”

“Finally there’s IPS [also used in the iPad’s display], “Null reports. “It works by arranging the crystal structure within the LCD such that the crystals are parallel with the glass screen above. Traditional LCD screens have crystals at odd angles, which decreases brightness and makes viewing at odd angles difficult, but IPS corrects that problem by creating order from the chaos.”

Full article here.


  1. “…this ‘improves sharpness and clarity of the display by eliminating light refraction, which is caused by the small distance between the glass surface and the LCD that exists on pre-4 iPhones.'”

    Acually, my First Gen iPhone is also full face laminated. My 3G and 3GS are air-gapped.

  2. No one has Apple’s engineering chops but it’s more than that. By employing the brightest and the best, and providing an environment where that talent can flourish, Apple can do an end run around every other tech company.

    It’s no real mystery how Apple do things but what is amazing is that no other company employs a similar philosophy. Until others divest themselves of their middle management structures and become as nimble as Apple, they are doomed to follow eternally in their wake.

    Truly, Apple are engineers with the souls of artists.


  3. @Sarasota

    No one is going to trade in their iPads because they want the new iPhone. Owning technology is not an act of barter. FYI it is indeed possible and practical to own both iPad and iPhone AT THE SAME TIME.

  4. Had to check about the Aura.

    Yep, almost identical screen, only it was a 1.5-inch circle, and the damn thing cost $2,000. It was built like a watch, and pretty much the only thing you could do on it was talk and show your friends how expensive your phone was. Nice engineering, though. In some ways, an elegant failure like the 20th anniversary Mac…

  5. @Newtype,
    Reading comprehension is neat-o.

    Sarasota means, what happens when the next iPad gets the Retina display and they’re stuck with the 1st gen screen.

    Hey, this is high consumer technology. You gotta pay to play. Or don’t participate. The latter is probably more admirable in some ways. Sometimes I feel like all this technology is just making me poor.

  6. This is exciting and I hope it raises our expectations for PC display technology, which, in terms of resolution, has really been stagnant. Sure, there are some high res displays available, but the OS’s and apps don’t make use of them in a way that maintains text and design element usefulness. We shouldn’t have to compromise between lots of pixels and readability (or misplaced buttons, labels, etc.). Currently, the display availability/resolution scaling partnership in every major OS is half-baked. As an example, I can easily read a 15″ MBP but not (nearly as easily) the high-res 15″. Why couldn’t I get nice graphics AND text that is still useful (and buttons, fields, etc. that aren’t mis-sized or misplaced)? The scaling features, text manipulations, that command-line hack, all result in some awful Franken-display. Maybe future iPhone-to-iPad app display improvements will trickle into desktop land? One day, high res won’t be synonymous with squinting.

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