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It may not have a retina display, but the iPad 2’s display is just as good as the iPhone 4’s, according to a display expert.
DisplayMate analyst Raymond Soneira put the iPad 2 and iPhone 4 displays through a series of tests in what he called a “Display Shoot-Out,” and discovered that they perform very similarly. Soneira is also the same person who put the iPhone 4’s “retina display” to the test last year, and debunked Steve Jobs’ assertions about it.
The iPhone 4 has a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch. The iPad 2 has a pixel density of 132 ppi. Obviously, higher ppi is better, but Soneira explained that existing anti-aliasing methods can successfully reduce noticeable pixelation at lower resolutions and ppi. He added that the high ppi of the iPhone 4 is mostly a “major marketing feature for the iPhone 4.”
In addition, Soneira, while noting that the iPad 2’s display is excellent, added that the iPad 2’s anti-aliasing is “far from state of the art.” He stated that it could be improved via software updates.
In the “shoot-out,” the iPad 2’s screen tested out very similarly to the iPhone 4, with both devices earning “Very Good for Mobile” ratings in tests on contrast ratio and black levels, and “Excellent” ratings for their maximum brightness.
“There is no question that a higher ppi is better, but the real question is whether the iPad 2 delivers good display performance when considering its price point and battery power constraints,” Soneira said.
It was originally rumored that Apple was going to double the resolution of the iPad 2, from 1,024 x 768 to 2,048 x 1,536 pixels, but it was later said that Apple would hold off on that move until the iPad 3, due to manufacturing issues. In fact, the iPad 2 maintained the same resolution as the iPad 1, the aforementioned 1,024 x 768.
Last year, after Steve Jobs announcement about the iPhone 4’s retina display, in which Jobs said the resolution was too great for the human retina to discern, Soneira put the iPhone 4 though its paces. While noting that the iPhone 4 had an excellent display, he said:
[…] the iPhone has significantly lower resolution than the retina. It actually needs a resolution significantly higher than the retina in order to deliver an image that appears perfect to the retina.
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.
He also noted that the speak about the “retina display” was just puffery.
“The marketing puffery is now in control. 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.”
Puffery, in legal terms, are “promotional statements and claims that express subjective rather than objective views, such that no reasonable person would take them literally.”