iPhone 5 vs. iPhone 4: The Display

I always raise my eyebrows just a bit when it comes to marketing, but the last time Steve Jobs invoked the Retina Display moniker, the vision scientist in me checked to see if his claims held up and sure enough, they did.  This time I was not so concerned withthe technical details of Apple‘s marketing claims, but was more interested in seeing if the displays, viewed up close could be distinguishable between the new iPhone 5 and my older iPhone 4.

I’ve been looking at the pixels in the new iPhone 5 over the last few days and it really is a higher quality display than the Retina Display in the iPhone 4.

The size of the display wasn’t the only thing that changed: these new photos and analysis by retinal neuroscientist Bryan Jones show some pretty convincing proof that the iPhone 5 does have quite a leg up on the iPhone 4 in terms of actual quality and image clarity. This is likely because of various factors: technology (including that of screens) improves over time, and Apple was able to incorporate the touch sensors directly in to the display, which eliminated more of the gap and color distortion that normally occurs.

Similar screens on the market include that used by HTC for the One X, though even that doesn’t have quite the same color reproduction levels. The second-best display widely used is Samsung’s Super AMOLED display on the Galaxy S III, though it has several problems: it has oversaturated colors, and often has a hue on the screen. Still, even the worst of today’s displays are leaps and bounds better than what was on devices even two years ago.


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