Touchscreen Technologies – What is Retina Display All About?


I just love this picture…

But anyway's, that's another topic. Back to mobile technologies for the common people, few months ago I wrote a short 'incomplete guide to different touchscreen technologies'.

Since then, some new technologies were added to that incomplete list. iPhone 4 introduces a new display called 'Retina' – to be frank, it's not a new touchscreen technology (still capacitive) but it does include some new capabilities in the mobile world.

So what makes the Retina display so special? And is it indeed the best screen so far?

Let's examine:


960x640 is indeed something no other smartphone has these days (I bet HTC is now working on something similar or better). For several years, desktop computers worked on a resolution of 840×640 and now iPhone has something even better on a smartphone. Amazing.
For a comparison: iPhone 3GS has 320x480, HTC Evo and HD both have 800x480.

Contrast Ratio:

The iPhone 4 offers a contrast ratio of 800:1. The closest ones are two Android phones – Droid (265 ppi) and Nexus One (245 ppi).

Screen Structure:

John Gruber points out another reason the iPhone 4’s display is so bright, crisp and lurid: a new production process that eliminates the space between the LCD and the touchscreen:

"It’s mentioned briefly in Apple’s promotional video about the design of the iPhone 4, but they’re using a new production process that effectively fuses the LCD and touchscreen — there is no longer any air between the two. One result of this is that the iPhone 4 should be impervious to this dust-under-the-glass issue. More importantly, though, is that it looks better. The effect is that the pixels appear to be painted on the surface of the phone; instead of looking at pixels under glass, it like looking at pixels on glass. Combined with the incredibly high pixel density, the overall effect is like “live print”.

It also improved the field of view for the display — you can view the display from an oblique angle and it looks great. Again, like print. It’s like a glossy magazine come to life."

That means that when creating the retina screen, the LCD and the touch surface are fused together to make the entire display better.

So there you have it: 3 reasons why Retina display got a name for, and considered to be the best one at the moment. I'm sure not for long…

What about other technologies?

AMOLED screens may be able to give a decent fight to the Retina screen, but for now, when comparing the HTC Evo (no AMOLED) to the new iPhone it looks like that:


The comparison between HTC Evo and iPhone 4 leaves no room for confusion: the HTC Evo 4G is throwing 38% less pixels at the display than Apple, but even so: look at how those app icons are basically throbbing through the iPhone’s glass, while the Evo 4G’s display looks like it has been submerged in a thin layer of dirty water.

Check out our previous mobile technologies guides:

How does 'Direct Push' work-

The History of PDAs

The Incomplete Guide to D-Pads

Different Screen Resolution in Windows Mobile Devices


The Incomplete Guide to Mobile Form Factors

More guides in here.


Anonymous said…
damn you sure are bias