New iPhone Display Doesn't Measure Up, Says Analyst

More pixels packed into Apple's new iPhone display means more detail and less blockiness -- but one analyst says the reality of the screen doesn't live up to Apple's hype.

Apple calls the new screen on the iPhone 4 a "retina display," because according to the company, the resolution is so high that the human eye can't distinguish the individual pixels. Apple chief executive Steve Jobs noted during his iPhone unveiling that there was a point at which pixels blurred together into continuous curves -- at about 300 ppi, he said, held at about 12 inches from the eye.  

But is the resolution really so hot that it bests the human eye? One leading analyst takes issue with Apple's claims.

According to Ray Soneira, president of DisplayMate Technologies, "the iPhone has significantly lower resolution than the retina." Soneira wrote that the iPhone would "actually needs a resolution significantly higher than the retina in order to deliver an image that appears perfect to the retina" -- a resolution that he says the iPhone simply doesn't have. 

"The resolution of the retina is in angular measure -- it's 50 cycles per degree," Soneira explained. "A cycle is a line pair, which is two pixels, so the angular resolution of the eye is 0.6 arc minutes per pixel."

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Using that metric, Soneira calculates that you have to hold the iPhone a foot and a half away before the effective resolution falls to 318 pixels per inch (ppi). 

In other words, the iPhone does have a high-res display, it's just not quite as good as Steve says. 

"It's a great display, most likely the best mobile display in production (and I can't wait to test it) -- but this is another example of spec exaggeration," Soneira concluded.

Apple could not be reached for comment.