iPad 3 With 2048×1536 Retina Display Confirmed?

Posted on 18 February 2012, Last updated on 18 February 2012 by

For the last few weeks photos of purported prototype iPad 3 displays were floating around the web. Now, MacRumors actually got their hands on one and actually examined it under a microscope to confirm the resolution.

Their findings show pretty conclusively that the screen has twice the pixel density as the screen on the iPad and iPad 2:

The original iPad and iPad 2 both have a 9.7″ 1024×768 IPS display with a total of 786,432 pixels at 130.61 PPI. At twice the density, the screen that MacRumors got their hands on would be 2048×1536 (presumably also IPS), which amounts to a whopping 3,145,728 pixels at 261.22 PPI. Compare this to 1080p HDTV resolution which is 1920×1080 and 2,073,600 pixels total. Although this screen has an impressive resolution, it’s actually not all that pixel dense. The iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S retina screen is 960×640 at 329.65 PPI.

Doubling the size of the screen on the iPad will do a lot for the aesthetics of the UI. Going from an iPhone 4S screen to the current-generation iPad screen really reveals how much sharper the iPhone’s screen is. I’ve heard a number of people say that the iPad would make a far better e-Reader if it had a more pixel-dense screen.

Rumors about a retina display on the iPad have been around ever since the original iPad launched. But is this really the iPad 3’s screen? I trust that the folks at MacRumors have been able to correctly identify this as an iPad screen, but are we sure it’s for the iPad 3? We’ve seen lots of evidence about of Apple products attributed to prototype parts that may or may not ever make it into the final product. Recall all the rumors surrounding the ‘iPhone 5’ (which turned out to be the iPhone 4S) launch. It’s even possible that this particular screen is part of ongoing work on the iPad 4.

For now, all we know for certain is that this is an iPad screen, and it’s definitely 2048×1536. Will it make it onto the iPad 3? Apple is expected to announce the iPad 3 at the beginning of next month… only time will tell.

4 Comments For This Post

  1. Vakeros says:

    Sorry to be pedantic, but I thought a ‘retina’ display had to have more than 300 PPI. As this high resolution will only be about 261 PPI it won’t be able to be called ‘retina’ display. Though it will become the highest resoultion tablet. Presently it languishes below many others for resolution and I expect Apple want to sort that.
    I am all for high res. as long as it is actually used, without simply using 4 pixels for every previous one (which actually might make it look less sharp,) or simply shrink everything. I expect it would require iOS 6 for it to work – any rumours on that score?

  2. Ben Lang says:

    There is no standard definition of a ‘Retina Display’, it’s a term coined by Apple and is loosely defined by them as ‘a PPI high enough that one is unable to identify individual pixels when the screen is 12″ from one’s eyes’. Apple claimed that the PPI required for this was around 300, but that’s assuming 12″ distance. Because of the bigger screen, Apple could easily say that the iPad is to be used further from the eyes, and that at whatever distance they presume it to be used, 261 PPI counts as a retina display. It’s their terminology, and I have no doubt that they’ll bend it in their favor.

    As for it looking less sharp — as long as the graphics are overhauled to natively fit the new resolution, there’s no arguing that it won’t look significantly sharper than the old 1024×768 screen; this is clearly demonstrated by the significant difference between the sharpness of old iPhone screens and the iPhone 4/iPhone 4S.

    You’re right, Apple would likely not simply high-res the graphics for the new screen without making other changes to the OS at the same time (I hope they fix their awful notification center!). This would result in a new version of iOS, but whether or not they’ll brand it as iOS 6 is really anyone’s guess — it’ll come down to how significant the changes are, and whether or not they think it is deserving of a whole number increase or just a decimal one. I haven’t heard anything about iOS 6 yet, but if you look to what Apple is doing with Mountain Lion, you might find some clues.

  3. Chippy says:

    Just to throw something in on this, retina display is a term that refers to angles and not pixel density (without giving a distance). In many cases old tvs can be ‘retina’ quality if they are far enough away from the eye!
    Like mah and volts for energy capacity, pixel density is useless unless you know the viewing distance.

  4. Ben Lang says:

    For those curious about Chippy’s point, the specific angle (based on Apple’s claim of 300 PPI at 12″) is 57 arcseconds per pixel, according to Wikipedia!

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