What Is a Liquid Retina Display?

How this Retina Display is different from the others

The iPhone 11's Liquid Retina Display screen

Apple Inc.

Apple has used Retina Display screens in the iPhone and other devices for years, but the iPhone 11 is perhaps the most high-profile device to use a different type of screen: a Liquid Retina Display, which is a type of LCD only Apple uses. Here's what you need to know about what a Liquid Retina Display is, and how it's different from other types of screens.

What Is a Retina Display?

To understand what a Liquid Retina Display is, you first have to understand what the basic Retina Display is. Essentially, it's a screen where there are so many pixels so tightly packed next to each other that you can't see individual pixels or jagged lines on the screen, even when looking very closely. Basically, it's a super-high resolution screen with a high pixel density.

For a deep look at all of Apple's Retina Display screens across all of its devices, check out What Is a Retina Display?

Apple introduced the first Retina Display screen on the iPhone 4. It has since introduced new versions of the screen that are larger, higher resolution, and that use different technology.

What Is a Liquid Retina Display?

The technologies used to manufacture the screen is the major difference between the Liquid Retina Display screen in the standard iPhone 11 and the Super Retina XDR display in the iPhone 11 Pro or the Super Retina HD display used in the iPhone XS or XS Max.

The Liquid Retina Display is made using a Liquid Crystal Display (LCD), a standard type of screen found in computer monitors, laptop screens, smartphones, tablets, and other devices for many years. It's a tried and true technology, but also an older technology.

The Super Retina XDR screens used in the iPhone XS and 11 Pro used Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) screens, which are a more modern screen technology that delivers brighter colors, deeper blacks, and use less power than LCDs.

How Is a Liquid Retina Display Different From a Super Retina Display?

The major ways a Liquid Retina Display screen (iPhone XR and 11) is different from the Super Retina XDR (iPhone 11 Pro) and Super Retina HD (iPhone XS) screens are:

  • Screen Technology: Liquid Retina Display screens are made using the older LCD technology rather than the newer OLED used in Super Retina XDR and HD displays.
  • Pixel Density: Liquid Retina Displays have a pixel density of either 326 pixels per inch (ppi) or 264 ppi (on iPads). Both the Super Retina HD and XDR displays sport 458 ppi pixel density.
  • Contrast Ratio: The contrast ratio on Liquid Retina Displays is 1400:1. A Super Retina HD display has a 1,000,000:1 ratio, while a Super Retina XDR has a 2,000,000:1 ratio. Contrast ratio effects the range of colors the screen can display and the depth of its blacks.
  • Brightness: The maximum brightness of a Liquid Retina Display is 625 nits, while a Super Retina XDR maxes out at 800 nits.
  • Battery Life: This is less easy to quantify, since so many things go into how long batteries last, but OLED screens in the Super Retina HD and XDR screens generally use less power than the LCD screens in the Liquid Retina Display.

What Apple Devices Use a Liquid Retina Display?

The following Apple devices use a Liquid Retina Display screen:

Device Screen Size
in inches
Screen Resolution
in pixels
Pixels Per Inch
iPhone 11 6.1 1792 x 828 326
iPhone XR 6.1 1792 x 828 326
iPad Pro 12.9" 
(3rd gen.)
12 2732 x 2048 264
iPad Pro 11"  11 2388 x 1668 264