Display Experts Say iPad 3 Retina Display Wouldn’t Be Worth The Performance Hit



In a shootout to determine which tablet has the best display over at DisplayMate, the iPad 2 came out ahead of the Eee Transformer and the Motorola Xoom. No surprises there.

What might be a bigger surprise is that the display experts over at DisplayMate have seriously approached the idea of whether or not the iPad 3 will get a Retina Display and have concluded that it would be nothing more than a marketing stunt… and would actually lower the quality of the iPad’s display while slowing down the hardware.

Considering the possibility of a 2048×1536 display on the iPad 3, the guys over at DisplayMate note:

The next generation iPad will quadruple the number of screen pixels with a resolution of 2048×1536. This would undoubtedly be a great marketing move but it’s technically an overkill and comes with a large penalty in cost and performance – requiring significantly more processing power, more memory and battery power, plus lowering the display brightness efficiency. Hopefully display pixels will not follow the same path as the camera Mega Pixel wars – because like them more pixels lowers performance after reaching a certain point. Apple had to double the resolution on the iPhone 3GS because its 480×320 resolution was very low. The iPad is starting with a much higher 1024×768 so Apps hard coded for the iPad 1 and 2 can be rescaled easily by the OS up to the new iPad 3 resolution.

Instead of a true Retina Display, then, DisplayMate recommends a more modest upgrade:

Based on the above discussion for an iPad Retina Display, a good technical and marketing compromise for Tablet resolution is 200 ppi. A 1600×1200 9.7 inch iPad display works out to 206 ppi. For the 10.1 inch Android Tablets 1792×1120 works out to 209 ppi. Image sharpness can be considerably enhanced even further with sub-pixel anti-aliasing, but even without it the Tablet displays will appear very sharp at 200 ppi.

Coupled with using an anti-reflection coating on the display to increase brightness and power efficiency, as well as increasing the color gamut and image color saturation, DisplayMate thinks the next generation iPad could have an incredibly display at half the cost of a true Retina.

  • dagamer34

    It’s obvious that the display guys aren’t thinking about how crappy a 1024×768 image would look on a 1600×1200 screen. Anything other than pixel doubling would make existing apps look worse. Period.

  • prof_peabody

    never happen.  it’s not the ppi that they are designing towards, it’s the size of the screen itself.  any new screen has to be four times the pixels in order to not have to re-design all the apps.  

    no slight increase in ppi is worth the effort and confusion required to have to re-design everything, not to mention the incompatibilities it introduces.  

  • davidk

    On a device where the apps are always full screen it would be a huge PITA to have a new iPad with a resolution thats not scalled by a factor of N over the existing one, whether N is 2 or 10.  With a double sized display you don’t have to redo assets until you are ready, everything is just pixel doubled.  Instead with a 1600 x 1200 display you’ve scaled everything by a factor of 1.5625.  So what are existing apps supposed to do?  Display in only a portion of the screen severly letterboxed on all edges?  Scale up at an irregular rate introducing jaggies left and right?  This is Apple we are talking about here, appearance and polish matter to them.  The little details matter to them.  They aren’t going to simply jump with the first technically feasible option regardless of what it will do to the user experience.

  • Bluelou65

    i’d rather they work on the e-ink/LCD hybrid than give me more pixels on the current model.

  • Don Pope

    I’m betting the iPad 3 will have the same resolution as the iPad 2.
    Anything else will be too problematic with current technology.

  • James Burland

    We are nowhere near where we need to be in terms of display resolution. When Apple releases a Retina equipped display we’ll all wonder why on earth we ever put up with 1024 x 768. I honestly think it would be a real game changer. I have written about it here at iPad Creative, your readers may find it of interest.


  • Chris Brunner

    I’m still satisfied with the screen on my original iPad. Besides battery life is one of the things that make the iPad so “Magical”.

    Well there you have it folks.


  • Wbeaudot

    These so-called experts should read this blog…


  • Roberto Barreto

    Blabla, if apple uses IPS, if it uses the same processor, battery and ram, and if they use this resolution. What we know is that the Ipad 2 is overkilling the competitors. Can’t wait to see what the iPad 3 will do.

  • Sheldon Stokes

    The difference between my iPhone 3GS display and my iPhone 4 display is totally night and day. I’m not buying an iPad until the display is comparable.  


  • Guest

    Can’t wait to pick up my Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 II with a 2560×1600 resolution display.  =)

  • Mike Retondo

    “Based on the above discussion for an iPad Retina Display, a good technical and marketing compromise for Tablet resolution is 200 ppi. A 1600×1200 9.7 inch iPad display works out to 206 ppi. For the 10.1 inch Android Tablets 1792×1120 works out to 209 ppi. Image sharpness can be considerably enhanced even further with sub-pixel anti-aliasing, but even without it the Tablet displays will appear very sharp at 200 ppi.”
    This so called expert is an idiot! No expert would ever make such a statement. The screen has to be double in both directions just like the iPhone 4 did in order for the old apps to just work by pixel doubling. Apple new this and made it very clear when the iPhone 4 was announced. Where was this guy on Mars at the time. Also, when the iPod 3 comes out there will be an A6 which will be faster with a faster GPU and better battery management… How did the iPhone 4 all of a sudden handle 4x the pixel density, was it magic? No, it called technological progress and Apple is quite capable in this regard. Now, I’m not saying this means this will happen in the iPod 3. It might take until the iPod 4, for any number of resins, cost being the most obvious.

  • Mike Rathjen

    I don’t understand all the comments about jaggies. If I take a 1024×768 picture and blow it up to 1280×960, there aren’t suddenly jaggies. I’ve also seen 720P material on 1080P TVs and 1080P material on 720P TVs, and there aren’t jaggies.

    I understand the theoretical argument that without doubling you have to add pixels in an uneven way, yet many systems seem to do this just fine without some horrible jaggie effect. Perhaps you just need a good upscaling process plus a decent resolution screen, but there seems to be plenty of that technology around.

  • Tag12171

    I have an iPhone 4 and an iPad 2. Let me just tell you that you hold the iPad farther away from your face anyways so the clarity does not matter as much. That and the colors still pop and it’s ips so I would have to side with these people a display upgrade to this degree is unecessary.

  • marioyohanes

    iPad 3 will be retina display, period.
    iPad 2 wasn’t use retina display because Apple knew about performance, battery life you name it. However, technology is moving on, there will be A6 chip for iPad 3 or new battery technology, or even better, new display technology with retina capability but half the cost… who knows… it’s future we’re talking about…

  • vjack

    I’ve been holding off on buying an iPad until 3 comes out, mostly because I’ve been assuming that there would be at least some improvement in display resolution. I’m not planning to hold out for true retina, but some improvement would be nice. Then again, I’m not sure it would be worth a big hit to battery life.

  • Cold_dead_fingers

    I say they just put the Retina Display in the iPad 3 as a sort of “gen 1” product again as it’ll test the CPU and GPU to a back-breaking degree. With iPad 4 they can have the CPU and GPU catch up with the display. The thing is, there’s only so far displays need to go before they’re pretty much perfected. I think a quad-core A6 iPad with the quad-core edition of the 543 and the retina display would make for a great f’n tablet. The thing is, even if they added one more tier of iPad that started at $600-$700 to get the retina display option, I’d spring for it. I know they want stay away from fragmentation but I think retina does so much for what the iPad is about, it’s worth it. I’ve read 2 books on the iPad and they weren’t enjoyable. I want crazy smooth text on my ereader substitute. Until then, I’m still reading paperback.

  • Orie0202

    And how were you able to play 1080p content on a 720p tv? If this was the case, why would anyone spend the extra cash for 1080p tv?