iPhone 4’s Retina Display. Really?

The iPhone 4’s screen may be the best mobile display yet, but its resolution does not exceed the human retina, as Steve Jobs claims.

The math just doesn’t add up, said Raymond Soneira, president of DisplayMate Technologies, who explained that the iPhone 4’s purported retina display was a misleading marketing term. From the Reuters article, read on …

“It is reasonably close to being a perfect display, but Steve pushed it a little too far,” Soneira said.

During his keynote speech, Jobs said the iPhone 4’s display had a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch. He claimed that this resolution exceeds the limit of the human retina, which Jobs said was 300 pixels per inch for a display about a foot away.

“It turns out there’s a magic number right around 300 pixels per inch, that when you hold something around to 10 to 12 inches away from your eyes, is the limit of the human retina to differentiate the pixels,” Jobs said.

Soneira said he wanted to highlight that retina display is a symptom of a larger problem of market puffery in the display industry. Basically, many manufacturers exaggerate claims about their display specifications – everything from resolution to viewing angle, and from brightness to contrast – and they have to do it because everyone is doing it.

“The marketing puffery is now in control,” Soneira said. “Everything that’s being said now is just this superamplified imaginary nonsense, and the only way to get people’s attention now is making more outlandish statements.”

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