Super Retina, The New MegaPixel Have you seen the new super high-density screens some of the Android phones are getting? The The iPhone 5/5c/5s phones have a 1136×640 screen with a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch. I immediately appreciated these retina screens and consider it one of the best advances in mobile technology in recent years. Some of the Android phone makers seem to be taking this even further. The HTC One sports a 1920×1080 with a pixel density of 468ppi. LG has a new display that sports 1440 x 2560 with a pixel density of 538ppi.
While in terms of screen density, more is better, there is a limit. Specifically, when the screen gets dense enough that the human eye can no longer see a difference, increasing beyond that point doesn’t make much sense. I know people that can’t tell the difference between pre-retina and retina screens, which I believe are very different. I suspect very few people will be able to tell a difference between a 326ppi screen and anything even sharper than that.
Moreover, increasing screen resolution has a cost. More pixels need more battery. The phone either has to get bigger or suffer poorer battery life. Also, driving more pixels means the processor has a lot more to think about and the rest of operations will suffer a processor hit. I’m not in favor of Apple trying to make the screen significantly sharper than it already is until doing so will not result in significant battery and processor hits.
Nevertheless, I fully expect 2014 to be the year that manufacturers start making extremely high screen density a marketing thing, like the camera people have been doing with the elusive megapixel.