All About the iPhone 4S Retina Display

In the art and science of smartphone comparison, the screen display and resolution is something you just can’t miss. The display is the most obvious thing that you first see when you lay your eyes on any smartphone. Today’s touchscreens and brilliant high-resolution displays can keep you looking at your prized smartphone a lot more than actually talking on it.

One smartphone that has made groundbreaking history in this area is none other than Apple’s iPhone. The Retina Display that was proudly unveiled by the iPhone 4 in June 2010 took the world by storm. A year later, the same Retina Display prevailed in the updated iPhone 4S. Let’s now take a closer look at the Retina Display and what has made it such a standard to emulate.

Record-Setting Image Quality

When you take a closer look at the iPhone 4S and its predecessor the iPhone 4, you’ll find that amidst their many powerful and desirable features, the most outstanding is still the Retina Display.

The touchscreen is aptly named the Retina Display as it boasts an all-time high resolution of 960 x 640 pixels on its 3.5-inch touchscreen, which yields a record-setting image quality of 326 pixels per inch (ppi). This image quality is still unbeaten to date, although some competitors are drawing pretty close, such as Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus with 1280 x 720 pixels on its 4.65-inch screen (316ppi).

Why “Retina”?

When they created the Retina Display, Apple wanted to squeeze in as many pixels as possible into the size of the iPhone screen to the extent that our human eyes can no longer distinguish any visible pixels on the touchscreen display. So Apple aptly named it the Retina Display, since it’s capable of displaying such sharp images that our retinas can’t find any pixel flaws in them.

Sure enough, Apple succeeded in their claims without question. When you compare the display of the earlier iPhone 3GS sporting a 480 x 320 pixel resolution, you’ll find that you can still discern some pixels or dots on the icons in the iPhone home screen. However, if you were to view the same icons on the Retina Display of the iPhone 4 or 4S, the icons appear so much smoother and sharper without any visible pixels.

In-Plane Switching Technology

In creating the Retina Display, Apple leveraged off the same technology that is used in their other products, such as the iPad and their LED Cinema Display. This technology is known as in-plane switching (IPS), which allows clearer viewing of the iPhone 4S screen from much wider viewing angles, as compared to the earlier-generation LCD screens that could only be viewed clearly from the front.

Sharp As Can Be

With four times the contrast ratio and four times the pixels of the earlier screen of the iPhone 3GS, the Retina Display really shows images as sharp as can be.

With the highest screen resolution and the correspondingly unbeaten image quality in existence so far, web browsing, gaming, reading, and playing games give you great viewing pleasure on the Retina Display of the iPhone 4S. This benefits any user who gets to see sharper, crisper text and images that are practically as good as on print.

Despite some the obviously unique and patented technology that Apple used in bringing the Retina Display to the iPhone, the price of the iPhone 4 upon its release was not at a premium over the iPhone 3GS at all. In fact, Apple managed to maintain constant prices of $199-$299 for the iPhone 4, which was exactly the same as for the iPhone 3GS upon its launch back in 2009 in the US.

Comparison with Other Smartphone Displays

In critically performing a smartphone comparison, it may seem that the Retina Display has had the last say in terms of screen resolution and readability. After all, how can a display that has already surpassed our retinas be beaten further?

In actual reality, some users seem to prefer Samsung’s brighter AMOLED display, such as that found on the Galaxy S II, despite its lower resolution of 800 x 480 pixels on its 4.3-inch screen (217ppi).

There are also rumors of Samsung and Toshiba working on smartphones with even higher image qualities than the 326ppi set by Apple’s Retina Display. Whether this is feasible or practical is difficult to predict at this point, since it’s true that our eyes may not be able to tell the difference.

What’s Next?

Perhaps in the upcoming iPhone 5, Apple could make its screen a little larger, delving into the 4+ inch sizes predominant in its Android competitors, while adding more vibrant brightness to the already brilliant and sharp Retina Display. This is bound to keep the smartphone game exciting for users and manufacturers alike.

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