Does the iPad 2 Have a Retina Display?

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro has a True Tone display, which is even better than a Retina Display.


The iPad 2 does not have a Retina Display.

A "Retina Display" is defined by Apple as a screen with a resolution so high that the individual pixels cannot be distinguished from each other by the human eye when held at a normal viewing distance. The Retina Display on a 9.7-inch iPad has a resolution of 2048x1536, but the iPad 2's screen resolution is 1024x768.

The primary way of measuring the density of pixels on a screen is called pixels-per-inch or PPI. The PPI of the iPad 2 is 132, which means it has 132 pixels per square inch. The retina display debuted with the iPad 3, which has the same screen dimension, measuring 9.7 inches diagonally, but its 2048x1536 resolution gives it 264 PPI. The original iPad Mini is the only iPad since the Retina Display was introduced on the iPad to not have a Retina Display.

The iPad 2 should not be confused with the iPad Air 2. Apple introduced the iPad "Air" series of tablets after the 4th generation iPad. The iPad Air 2 does have a retina display. All 9.7-inch iPads produced after the iPad 2 have a 2048x1536 resolution Retina display, although the 9.7-inch iPad Pro includes a wider gambit of colors and a True Tone display, which makes it the best display for a 9.7-inch tablet.

Can You Upgrade the iPad 2 to a Retina Display?

Unfortunately, there is no way of upgrading the iPad 2 to a Retina Display. While Apple performs screen replacements for cracked screens, the internal electronics would not support the higher resolution. It may be as cheap to buy a used or refurbished iPad as it would be to replace a screen, with the benefit of getting a faster iPad out of the process.

Do You Need a Retina Display?

Apple's introduction of high-resolution displays on the iPad and iPhone started a trend in the smartphone and tablet industry. There are now tablets that have 4K displays, which is overkill on a tablet that measures less than twenty inches diagonally. While 4K support through video out would be useful when connecting a tablet to a TV or monitor that supports 4K, you would need to hold the tablet up to your nose for it to make any real difference on a smaller device. 

Most websites are designed for a 1024x768 resolution, which is the major reason why the original iPad debuted with this resolution. It also means you are getting the same basic experience browsing the web on an iPad 2 as you would experience on a newer iPad, although a newer iPad might load the website faster. The writing on the screen might be slightly smoother as the font takes advantage of the higher resolution, but you would need to study them side-by-side to really tell the difference.  

But while having a 1024x768 display will be fine for many tasks on the iPad, streaming movies and playing games are two areas where the Retina Display will really shine. The iPad 2 falls a little short of 720p resolution, but with a Retina Display, you can stream 1080p video from Netflix. It's hard to call this a monumental issue because the 9.7-inch screen size doesn't scream "I need 1080p video or I'll look horrible!" quite like a 50-inch television, but it is a noticeable difference.

Gaming tends to be hit or miss. No one will complain about the loss of Retina Display graphics while moving candy around in Candy Crush Saga, but the higher resolution display certainly looks nice when playing a hardcore strategy game or one of the great role-playing games available for the iPad.

Which iPads Have a Retina Display?

The Retina Display made its way to the iPad in 2012 with the iPad 3, and the only iPad to be released since the iPad 3 that does not have a Retina Display is the original iPad Mini, which has the same screen resolution as the iPad 2. For 9.7-inch iPads, this includes the iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad Air 2 and the 2017 5th generation iPad.The iPad Mini 2, iPad Mini 3 and iPad Mini 4 also have Retina Displays, as does the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

Apple introduced the True Tone display with the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. This display is also used with the 10.5-inch iPad Pro and the 2nd generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The True Tone display is capable of a wide gamut of colors. The colors can also change based on the ambient light.