Liquid Retina vs Super Retina, the Display Technologies Featured on New Apple iPhones

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Apple has over the years brought major technological upgrades to various aspects of its iPhone range of products. These upgrades vary from improvements in the camera tech to catchy aesthetic modifications, commendable iOS software upgrades, battery life, right down to redefined displays. All of these — and some other improvements — have ensured that the iPhones released last year are far better than those of 2 years ago.

One aspect where the American company really earned accolades is the phone display. Recent Apple iPhones sport narrower screens, feature a unique notch that a lot of Android phone makers have borrowed on their flagship smartphones, and offer improved quality. Thus, it would be egregiously bad to compare the display on these new-gen iPhones (the likes of iPhone XiPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR) with the display on the previous generation of devices.

Through those new-gen smartphones, the Apple brand has introduced new terminologies in our lexicon for the technologies it employs on its iPhones displays — Liquid Retina and Super Retina. In this post, we will be drawing parallels between these 2 display technologies. Let’s see how super retina vs liquid retina compares.

What Is Liquid Retina?

This display has the same LCD display offering the equal 326 ppi density as we have on previous iPhone models. What then sets it apart from the new OLED Super Retina or the usual iPhone LCD?

The Technology behind Liquid Retina Display

Liquid Retina is a curved liquid crystal display (LCD) with novel technology and modifications made by Apple Inc. with a view to ensuring that the display quality is better than the LCD panels in the previous iPhone. There are 4 primary features distinguish the Liquid Retina from your regular iPhone LCD panels on devices, like iPhone 8, iPhone 7, and others:

  • Haptic Touch technology which is an upgrade to 3D Touch)
  • True Tone technology for enhanced color accuracy (inkier blacks, brighter whites)
  • 120 hertz touch sensing which aids touch sensing and enhances responsiveness
  • Tap-to-Wake support

Apple iPhones with Liquid Retina Display

At the moment, the Apple iPhone XR is the only iPhone that features the Liquid Retina display.

iphone xr specs
iPhone XR with a Liquid Retina Display

What Is Super Retina?

The term, Super Retina, was birthed when the iPhone X was released in 2018. It is basically the term that Apple chose to call organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display on iPhones. Before the release of the iPhone X, its predecessors had almost the same jejune (4.7”) LCD display for standard variant, whereas Plus options came with bigger screens. However, things took a new turn with the iPhone X when the maker chose to hop on the OLED train for the first time ever.

Unlike LCD panels that make use of a backlight for illuminating their pixels, in OLED screen, pixels generate their own light. This brings about deeper and inkier blacks as well as higher contrasts.

The Technology behind the Super Retina Display

Basically, Apple crammed this new Super Retina iPhone display with more pixels in a bid to increase the pixel density. The tech behind the display is quite simple.

iPhones have featured Retina displays right from the days of iPhone 4. Also, all the displays of the iPhone 5, iPhone 6, iPhone 7 and even iPhone 8 displays came with Retina LCD screens having a pixel density of 326ppi. On the other hand, the iPhone X was designed with a Super Retina display, which was an OLED screen that exhibits 458 ppi — the highest ever pixel density offered by an iPhone).

Super Retina can be regarded as the more pixellated OLED variant of Retina (LCD) displays, which featured on previous models of iPhones. Put in another way, it is safe to state Apple iPhones that sport OLED displays, as well as a pixel density of 458ppi, are Super Retina iPhones.

Apple iPhones with Super Retina Display

From the definition given above, the iPhone Xthe XS, and the XS Max feature OLED panels, each having a pixel density of 458ppi; thus, they qualify to be called Super Retina iPhones.

take screenshot on iphone xs max, xs, xr and iphone x
iPhone XS Max with Super Retina Display

Super Retina vs Liquid Retina Displays

There are some technical differences between Liquid Retina and Super Retina displays:

  • Pixel density: Liquid Retina (326 ppi) | Super Retina (458 ppi)
  • Display panel: Liquid Retina is LCD while Super Retina is an OLED display.
  • Haptic Touch: Liquid Retina (Present) | Super Retina (Absent)

Super Retina vs Liquid Retina Display: Which is Better?

Putting their paper specs aside, when it comes to real usage, the better one out of the 2 is the Super Retina display because it exhibits higher resolution, deeper blacks, and greater pixels that are spread across the surface. (This is not to state Liquid Retina is bad, though.) It is equally a very remarkable display and is among the best (LCD) displays you would get on an Apple iPhone. But iPhones featuring Super Retina display offer more powerful visual quality as compared with their Liquid Retina counterparts and are generally costlier.

Posted by Deji

Deji is a freelance writer and Physics graduate from the University of Ibadan. Passionate and meticulous, he is a keen follower of developments around the world on a number of issues ranging from science, tech, history, politics, among others. Deji loves playing football and meeting people. Please, follow on Twitter and Facebook

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