How To iPhone & iPod What Is a Retina Display? Apple's Retina display makes everything look crisper Share Pin Email Print Apple iPhone & iPod Key Concepts Basics Installing & Upgrading Guides & Tutorials Tips & Tricks Switching from Android to iPhone by Sam Costello Sam Costello has been writing about tech since 2000. His writing has appeared in publications such as CNN.com, PC World, InfoWord, and many others. Updated August 30, 2019 Retina display is the name Apple gave to the high-resolution screen technology it uses on various models of the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and other Apple products. It was introduced with the iPhone 4 in June 2010. What Is a Retina Display? Retina display gets its name from Apple's claim that screens made using the technology are so sharp and high quality that it's impossible for the human eye to distinguish individual pixels. A Retina display smooths the jagged edges of the pixels that make up images on screens and makes images seem more natural. The benefits of the technology are visible in many uses but particularly for displaying text, where the curved edges of fonts are substantially smoother than on previous display technologies. A Retina display's high-quality images are the result of several factors: A high density of pixels make up the device screen.A high contrast ratio creates brighter whites and deeper blacks.In-plane switching technology improves the angles from which the screen can be viewed.Chemically-treated glass over the screen and LED backlighting improve the quality of the image. The Two Factors That Make a Retina Display Screen There is no single screen resolution that makes a screen a Retina display. For example, not every device with a resolution of 960-by-640 pixels has a Retina display, even though that's the resolution of the iPhone 4, which has a Retina display screen. Instead, two factors create a Retina display screen: pixel density and the distance from which the user views the screen. Pixel Density Pixel density refers to how tightly packed the screen's pixels are — the greater the density, the smoother the images. Pixel density is measured in pixels per inch (PPI), which indicates how many pixels are present in one square inch of screen. This metric is based on a combination of the device's resolution and its physical size. The iPhone 4 had 326 PPI due to a 3.5-inch screen with a 960-by-640 resolution. This spec was the original PPI for Retina display screens, though that value changed as later models were released. For example, the iPad Air 2 has a 2048-by-1536 pixel screen, resulting in 264 PPI. That, too, is a Retina display screen. This is where the second factor comes in. Viewing Distance Viewing distance refers to how far away users typically hold the device from their faces. For example, the iPhone is usually held relatively close to the user's face, while a MacBook Pro display is seen from farther away. This distance matters because the defining characteristic of a Retina display is that the human eye can't distinguish the pixels. Something that's seen up close needs a greater pixel density for the eye not to see the pixels. Pixel density can be lower for displays viewed at a greater distance. Other Retina Display Names As Apple introduced new devices, screen sizes, and pixel densities and made improvements to the display technology, the company began to use other names for different Retina displays. These include: Retina display: Used on the iPhone 4, among others.Retina HD display: Used on the iPhone 6 Plus and others.Retina 4K display: Used on the 21-inch iMac.Retina 5K display: Used on the 27-inch iMac.Super Retina HD display: Used on the iPhone X and iPhone XS.Liquid Retina HD display: Used on the iPhone XR. Apple Products With Retina Display Retina displays are available on the following Apple products, at the following resolutions and pixel densities: iPhone Screen Size* Resolution PPI iPhone XR 6.1 1792 x 898 326 iPhone XS Max 6.5 2688 x 1242 458 iPhone X & XS 5.8 2436 x 1125 458 iPhone 7 Plus & 8 Plus 5.5 1920 x 1080 401 iPhone 7 & 8 4.7 1334 x 750 326 iPhone SE 4 1136 × 640 326 iPhone 6 Plus & 6S Plus 5.5 1920 × 1080 401 iPhone 6S & 6 4.7 1334 × 750 326 iPhone 5S, 5C, & 5 4 1136 × 640 326 iPhone 4S & 4 3.5 960 × 640 326 * in inches for all charts iPod Touch Screen Size Resolution PPI 7th Gen. iPod touch 4 1136 x 640 326 6th Gen. iPod touch 4 1136 × 640 326 5th Gen. iPod touch 4 1136 × 640 326 4th Gen. iPod touch 3.5 960 × 640 326 iPad Screen Size Resolution PPI iPad Pro 11 2388 x 1668 264 iPad Pro 9.7 2048 x 2048 264 iPad Pro 10.5 2224 x 1668 264 iPad Pro 12.9 2732 × 2048 264 iPad Air & Air 2 9.7 2048 × 1536 264 iPad 4 & 3 9.7 2048 × 1536 264 iPad mini 2, 3, and 4 7.9 2048 × 1536 326 Apple Watch Screen Size Resolution PPI Series 4 - 44mm body 1.5 368 × 448 345 Series 4 - 40mm body 1.5 324 × 394 345 Series 3 and earlier - 42mm body 1.5 312 × 390 303 Series 3 and earlier - 38mm body 1.32 272 × 340 303 iMac Screen Size Resolution PPI Pro 5K 27 5120 x 2880 218 Pro 27 5120 × 2880 218 with Retina Display 27 5120 × 2880 218 with Retina Display 21.5 4096 × 2304 219 MacBook Pro Screen Size Resolution PPI 3rd Gen. 15.4 2880 × 1800 220 3rd Gen. 13.3 2560 × 1600 227 MacBook Screen Size Resolution PPI Air 13.3 2560 x 1600 227 2017 model 12 2304 × 1440 226 2015 model 12 2304 × 1440 226 Continue Reading Get the Screen Resolution of Each Model iPad Hands On the Apple iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro Does the iPad 2 Rock a Retina Display? 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