When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone 4, he also introduced us to Apple’s definition of a Retina display. “There’s a magic number right around 300 pixels per inch, that when you hold something around 10 or 12 inches away from your eyes, is the limit of the human retina to differentiate the pixels… text looks like you’ve seen it in a fine printed book.”  That Retina branding has become an industry misconception according to LG, and the company made a point of it during its G3 smartphone unveiling earlier today.

LG-G3-Event-03Jobs also said that the Retina display was a first for a display on a phone, but that might not be the case for Apple’s new iPhone 6. Since the iPhone 4, Android manufacturers have one-upped Apple with higher resolution and larger displays. LG’s comments aren’t just relevant when comparing current iPhone models, but also when thinking about what’s planned for iPhone 6. It didn’t mention Apple by name, but it was clear LG was referring to the iPhone and Apple’s 300ppi Retina definition:

There’s one common misunderstanding within the smartphone industry. There’s a misconception that the human eye can only distinguish differences in display quality up to around 300 pixels per inch. However, this is not the case. The human eye can in fact discern differences in display quality above this measure and this is a fact that’s already understood in the printing industry. Today what they consider the best print quality is what LG has achieved with the introduction of its first Quad HD display, as seen in the G3. 

LG also compared an HD display at 269ppi to Full HD at 403ppi and its Quad HD display from the new G3 at 538ppi: “If it were true that the human eye could only discern differences in display quality up to a maximum off 300ppi, then you wouldn’t be able to notice these differences in clarity and sharpness between the images shown.” 

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 1.24.25 PM

The current iPhone lineup remains at the 326ppi that was introduced with the iPhone 4 despite later moving to a 4-inch iPhone 5 and introducing scaling modes that improved the overall quality on displays of later models. We recently reported that Apple is currently working on a 3x pixel tripling mode that would likely bring a 1704 x 960 resolution display to the next-generation iPhone. That would give the rumored 4.7-inch model a pixel density of 416ppi and the 5.5-inch model 356ppi assuming they both use the 1704 x 960 resolution. If LG is to be believed, Apple’s new larger display might not blow away the competition like iPhones of years past.

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About the Author

Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & Electrek.co. He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.