iPad 3 display proving to be a challenge, report says

Apple reportedly wants the next iPad to have a Retina-like high-density display. However, LCD panel manufacturers aren’t sure they can churn out high-density panels in large enough quantities, according to knowledgeable sources quoted by CNet News.

Right now, the rumored plan is for the iPad 3 to launch "as early as the first quarter of next year" with a 2048×1536 display—that’s twice the pixel density of the iPad 2’s 1024×768 panel. Apple might be putting the cart before the horse, though:

But whether manufacturers can make them in volumes that Apple demands is the question. "They have production plans for 2,048×1,536 displays. Starting in November. But those are only plans at this point," said the source, referring to LG and Samsung.
"It’s not a question of making just one. That, of course, can be done. The challenge is making lots of them," the source said. "This is a quantum leap in pixel density. This hasn’t been done before."

CNet News adds that "there is an interim option of 1,600×1,200" if volume production of 2048×1536 panels falls through.

I question whether Apple will take that route, though. When Apple introduced the iPhone 4 with its much-touted Retina display, it similarly doubled pixel density from 480×320 to 960×640. That kind of jump makes the scaling of unoptimized content (especially on the web) fairly straightforward, since you can just say each regular pixel equals four Retina pixels. Scaling from 1024×768 to 2048×1536 would be similar, but a jump to 1600×1200 would make content scaling more awkward. Last I checked, Apple doesn’t like that sort of awkwardness.

Comments closed
    • albundy
    • 8 years ago

    well, on one hand, its about time someone pushed up the rez. its been stagnant for years! of course, its gonna cost two arms and legs in the beginning, but that’s the whole notion behind pushing out way better tech.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 8 years ago

    I suspect they’ll release an iPad 3 for the high end ($700+) with the higher resolution display and keep the iPad 2 for the cheapseats, possibly using it to reach down lower toward (but not matching) the Kindle Fire pricing.

    This has the advantage of being a press blitz-worthy story in both ways. Pricing and technological improvement. They sell the iPad 2 to the users who want the cheapest model (16 GB, maybe 32 GB) while giving themselves some breathing room by giving the superior screens in the lower-selling, higher end models (64GB, possible 128GB).

    This also gives people something to work their way up to, a reason to want the higher end models in an era of iCloud cloud dreamlands, and something to bring down to the cheapseats next year when the display manufacturing has matured.

      • Beelzebubba9
      • 8 years ago

      I’d be pretty happy if they dropped the price of the iPad 2 to $399 and then introduced an iPad 3 HD running the A6 and a high res screen for $599 and up.

    • StashTheVampede
    • 8 years ago

    Maybe it’s not a good idea to sue your supplier.

    • Kent_dieGo
    • 8 years ago

    2048×1536 is four times as many pixels as 1024×768.

      • Helmore
      • 8 years ago

      Eh….and your point is? >.<

        • mcnabney
        • 8 years ago

        Cyril wrote that it was twice the pixel density.

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 8 years ago

          All of these statements are true.

            • Game_boy
            • 8 years ago

            No. If four pixels are in the same area as one before that is four times the density.

            • ImSpartacus
            • 8 years ago

            I will explain this concept ONCE. You get ONE POST of me being respectful and kind. You don’t get to ‘disagree’ with this post. There is no more correct explanation than the one in this post.

            ‘Resolution’ is misused in plain english. [b<]Resolution is not the total pixels of a display.[/b<] '1920x1080' [b<]is not[/b<] a resolution. In pixel-based displays, [b<]resolution is [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pixel_density<]pixel density[/b<][/url<]. Pixel density is a linear density (stuff per [b<]length[/b<]), not a more typical voluminous density (stuff per [b<]volume[/b<]). The units for pixel density are pixels per length. 'ppi' or 'pixels per inch' is an acceptable unit for resolution. '326 ppi' is a resolution. In a two dimensional pixel-based display, resolution (ppi) is proportional to the square of total pixels. Using this knowledge, we can explain the iPad display. The iPad has 786432 pixels (1024x768) and a resolution of 132 ppi. Because iOS is not resolution independent, Apple must change resolution in powers of two (two, four, eight, sixteen, etc.) For this generation, they will [i<]double[/i<] the iPad resolution to 264 ppi. Since resolution is proportional to the square of total pixel count, we need to quadruple (two squared is four) the total pixel count to 3145728 (2048x1536). So an iPad with 2048x1536 pixels [b<]does not[/b<] have four times the resolution, it has [i<]two[/i<] times the resolution. Everything is [i<]twice[/i<] as clear. If you are still confused, [i<]please[/i<] go to the Wikipedia page on Pixel Density. [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pixel_density[/url<]

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    I hope the retina displays on ipad set a new standard for desktop resolutions. 1080p doesn’t veiw that well over 20 inches IMHO and as such even the 30 inch monitors out there could use a little resolution bump. Ideally I’d like to see this push up HD resolutions to a new higher standard so that 32-40 inch displays can render in much higher pixel density. Right now there is no reason to go for a larger monitor than a 30 inch because you gain nothing.

      • mcnabney
      • 8 years ago

      4K is starting the push in 2012. I imagine 4x the 1080p resolution on a 30″ will brighten your day.

      Personally, I am looking forward to it as a 100″ projector.

    • dashbarron
    • 8 years ago

    As much as I dislike Apple, I have to give them a nod for always pushing the boundaries of technology and then our expectations of technology and devices.

    Not to say there isn’t a bait-n-switch with freedom with said devices….

      • Beelzebubba9
      • 8 years ago

      How is the usability of Apple’s iOS devices functionally crippled by their walled garden business model?

      All of the examples I can come up with legitimately don’t matter to 99% of the phone buying public, which is why Apple makes more money off of the iPhone alone than Google makes as a company.*

      *(this was true last I checked)

    • delsydsoftware
    • 8 years ago

    I hope this leads to cheap-ish 4k displays on the desktop in the future. So, I’m all for it.

      • Airmantharp
      • 8 years ago

      just need GPU manufacturers to keep up so we can run games at that resolution too! I sure don’t want to have to build a 4-GPU rig for it 🙂

    • glynor
    • 8 years ago

    This sounds suspiciously like a panel manufacturer that [i<]did not[/i<] get the contract spreading FUD to me. Eg: How could they [i<]ever[/i<] do something like that at scale?? ProTip: Apple has a holy crap-load of money, and they aren't shy about using it to buy specialty production equipment built to their exact specs. They are better at scaling production of high-end, high-quality parts than anyone in the space right now.

      • SPOOFE
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]Apple has a holy crap-load of money[/quote<] "... But there's one thing he can't buy!" "What's that?" ".......... A dinosaur!"

    • JdL
    • 8 years ago

    Panel supply in only part of the problem. The other part is having a GPU fast enough to handle the high resolution and keep the user experience on par with the iPad 2 generation.

    When iPad 3 does come out, expect a GPU that is at least 2x the iPad 2. It’s doubtful that the updated GPU will translate to the iPhone 5, since 300 dpi is the “ideal” resolution and can’t really be improved upon. Unless they go 3D. Meh.

      • Rurouni
      • 8 years ago

      Easy. The current SoC use 2 GPU cores. Just double it (like in PS Vita).

        • Beelzebubba9
        • 8 years ago

        If the A6 is made on TSMC’s 28nm process, then a PowerVR SGX543 MP4 would be very doable.

        Then again, I’m not sure TSMC has actually figured out how to make chips reliably at 28nm….

      • PeregrineFalcon
      • 8 years ago

      The iPad 3 is expected to pack the A6 SoC, which means four CPU cores and the PowerVR Series 6 “Rogue” graphics. Forget 2x the GPU horsepower – think 20x.

      [url<]http://www.engadget.com/2011/02/18/imagination-technologies-unveils-series-6-powervr-gpus-promis/[/url<] (Since this isn't production silicon yet, don't forget your grain of salt, folks.)

    • adisor19
    • 8 years ago

    It’s strange that more than a year after Apple released the iPhone 4, no other Smartphone manufacturer has managed to produce a device with a resolution and high ppi that even comes close to the iPhone 4…

    Adi

      • Corrado
      • 8 years ago

      There are 1 or 2. The Galaxy Nexus will be one for sure. 1280×720 on a 4.65″ screen, but yeah. Everyone focused on BIGGER screen rather than denser. I would like a 4.0″ iPhone though.

        • ImSpartacus
        • 8 years ago

        If you play the subpixel game, then the Galaxy Nexus doesn’t even come close to matching the iPhone 4’s density.

        [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/5000/galaxy-nexus-pentile-discussion-confirmed[/url<] Hell, the original Droid still has the densest screen (3.7" RGB 854x480) of any modern non-iOS smartphone. That RGB IPS screen is [i<]so[/i<] underrated.

          • Ari Atari
          • 8 years ago

          [quote<] Hell, the original Droid still has the densest screen (3.7" RGB 854x480) of any modern non-iOS smartphone. That RGB IPS screen is so underrated. [/quote<] Heh that seems so odd, that a phone from two years ago had 267ppi yet it took so long for the iphone to get to 300ppi. I'm so glad that I got the Droid.

          • squeeb
          • 8 years ago

          I’m still rocking the OG Droid. I love it…even overclocked, its a bit sluggish but it does what I need it to do.

          • Wirko
          • 8 years ago

          There’s also the Sony Ericsson Ray for those who like more compact phones. 3.3″ RGB 854×480 means 297 ppi, which is 99% retina. Being less than 300 ppi is probably the reason I can see the pixels (in 1% of cases).

          I wonder what technology is used in these displays. The viewing angles are worse than on IPS or S-PVA but better than on any TN.

      • ImSpartacus
      • 8 years ago

      You are aware that flagship smartphones take more than a year to plan, right?

      • Goty
      • 8 years ago

      That’s because the other smartphone makes know that density is not the only benchmark by which to measure a screen. I still make iPhone4 owners jealous when I pull out my lowly WVGA SAMOLED screen.

        • ImSpartacus
        • 8 years ago

        yes, cranking the saturation up the disgusting levels will definitely make your device stand out, but it doesn’t mean it has a superior screen.

          • no51
          • 8 years ago

          I agree, color reproduction and accuracy is very important on a handheld. It takes priority over viewing angles and visibility in direct sunlight. Very helpful when I’m editing photos on my phone at the beach and it has to be true to print.

            • ImSpartacus
            • 8 years ago

            You are aware that you won’t be able to see that AMOLED display on the sunny beach, right? You only get to look at your clown colors indoors.

          • funko
          • 8 years ago

          so the blue screen of the iphone is preferred over the red screen of an amoled? blue > red?

      • A_Pickle
      • 8 years ago

      Yeah. Also strange is why Apple, more than three years after the release of the T-Mobile G1, has been unable to produce a device with a removeable battery or an expandable memory slot.

      Oh darn. It goes both ways, doesn’t it, fanboy?

        • albundy
        • 8 years ago

        +100! and they suck in my book because of that! its still technically possible to replace the battery though, with very little skill in opening up the device. i could have been worse…apple could have used a custom LiPo cell (like those chinese mp4 players do) with an undisclosed size/rating vs. their current Li-Ion pack.

        • Corrado
        • 8 years ago

        Unwilling != Unable. There’s a difference.

          • SPOOFE
          • 8 years ago

          But the unwilling/unable thing goes both ways, doesn’t it? After all, Android phones are outselling the iPhone, despite the “inferior” screens…

            • Corrado
            • 8 years ago

            There are not many people that will buy a phone SOLELY for its screen. More than likely people are already considering Android or iOS when the screen may sway them one way or another, but its only because of the screen. Same with a removable battery. All things equal, I’d like a removable battery, but its not going to make me NOT get a phone that I’m otherwise set on.

      • jcw122
      • 8 years ago

      Except that the IP4 screen is smaller than the competition…

        • glynor
        • 8 years ago

        And bigger always equals better, right?

      • Rurouni
      • 8 years ago

      Maybe because it really isn’t necessary?
      I think this high ppi stuff came into attention because it was Apple that doing that. We already have high ppi screen on phones before iPhone 4, it just that the manufacturer didn’t put the word ‘retina display’ on it. When other came out with a better stuff, it just a natural progression. When Apple came out with better stuff, it is magical.

      [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_displays_by_pixel_density[/url<] it doesn't list all the available phones, but should be enough for comparison purpose.

      • StashTheVampede
      • 8 years ago

      That’s what happens when you buy out the the only maker that can supply that panel.

      Tim Cook is the “hero” behind the scenes of Apple. He has orchestrated several buyouts and contracts to guarantee Apple has the first crack of specific hardware so that no one else could possibly come close in terms of availability and features. No one else can compete because the sole vendors that *could* supply a competitor simply cannot.

      Samsung does have a 720p res screen in their newer phones, but its noticeably larger.

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 8 years ago

      Wow, some apple haters all over this website.

        • adisor19
        • 8 years ago

        lol you seem surprised 🙂

        Adi

          • ImSpartacus
          • 8 years ago

          There’s a difference between being an “Apple hater” and seeing a few realities with technology development.

          Apple shoved the bar up when it released the iPhone 4. It crammed a competitive processor and a groundbreaking screen into an impossibly small package that managed to get best-in-class battery life to boot. This is quite a phone.

          However, competitors cannot simply release a legitimate iPhone 4 competitor six months after its release. Flagship smartphones take years to go from the drawing board to store shelves.

          Take Samsung for example. Samsung has (brilliantly) copied Apple products for over a year now. If they could beat the iPhone 4’s screen in an outright PPI “battle”, they would do it. Instead, they go the AMOLED route until they can get 4.65″ 720p displays on the market. The iPhone 4 will probably be 2 years old before Samsung can get 720p phones to every carrier (GS3?). Do you think the master of Apple copies would really like to wait that long?

            • Corrado
            • 8 years ago

            And by that time, Apple may have something completely different up its sleeve rendering people to catching up again. Up until the 4s, the A4 cpu was beaten by a few things, at least from a spec perspective. Specs aren’t everything though, seeing as the A5 is a dual core 800mhz chip that handily beats a lot of dual core 1.2-1.5ghz chips, and trounces them from a video perspective. There are CPUs faster than the A5, and GPUs faster than whats in the A5, but neither of them are in the same package. The A5 is simply a wonder because of its well roundedness. Especially considering the battery life it obtains.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 8 years ago

        Yes, I do hate obvious baiting.

    • TurtlePerson2
    • 8 years ago

    If they do it, then it means that something is seriously wrong with the pricing of 1080p 20″ displays. If you can make a 7-8″ display at 2048×1536 and fit it into a $500 device, then why can’t you get that same resolution at 22-24″ for $200 or so.

    Personally, I don’t believe that they’ll do it. They really don’t want to hurt the margin on the iPad and if the screen is too expensive it will do just that.

      • Corrado
      • 8 years ago

      Theres nothing wrong with the pricing of 1080p 20″ displays. You can buy them for $110 shipped. If you really think that Apple can’t get them for $65-80 per panel in the quantities they’re buying, you’re nuts. Plus, thats $110 for not JUST the panel. Case, power supply, accessories, boxes, etc all factor in too. I’d guess the 20″ 1080p panel costs around $50 at a supplier level. If apple can get their panel for $100 a pop, that leaves them $400 to pay for profit, PCB, flash, touchscreen, etc. Considering the 16gb iPhone 4S costs them ~ $195 to produce, adding another $50 on there for screen and $10 to cover the larger battery and more materials, that still leaves them with ~$250 profit on a 16gb iPad or MORE on a wifi only one as they don’t have to pay for the 3G radio, antenna, etc. Since it costs $500 retail, a 100% profit markup is ridiculous. Now, goto the 3G, 32 and 64GB sizes and they make MORE money since the 3G radio probably costs $20-30, and the extra flash is ~ $15 per 16gb, yet they charge $180 and $100 for them respectively.

      • jensend
      • 8 years ago

      The reason displays over 1080p are really expensive is not a technical one these days- it’s that they’re a niche market. Support for resolution scaling in most operating systems, apps, and games/video drivers just isn’t good enough to make people want to make the jump. Most people still want their fonts to snap to pixels and their games to be rendered at native resolution because when text or images are upscaled they don’t get the sharpness they want. This puts strict limitations on pixel density.

      Apple has the ability to get around this because they have such tight control over the operating environment and because they don’t have as much legacy software compatibility to worry about (most apps users can get will be designed for the new resolution, and those that aren’t will be designed for half the resolution and can be upscaled really easily).

      I really think that nV, AMD, and Intel should put more thought into 3d scaling. In particular, if you don’t have the hardware muscle to render a game at your panel’s native resolution, you should be able to choose a mode where most of the rendering is done at a dyadic fraction (i.e. m/2^n) of your panel’s resolution and smart upscaling algorithms are applied. Right now, the resolutions you can choose to render at are rarely good matches for your panel size, you usually end up stuck with the awful and blurry scaling your monitor tries to do on its own, and even if you have the option to have your video card do the scaling it still uses a completely unintelligent scaling algorithm.

      (note: only exceptions to “lower resolutions you can choose to render at are a bad match for your panel resolution” on widely-available monitors are 800×600 for a 1600×1200 display, 1024×768 for 2048×1536, 1280×720 for 2560×1440, and 1280×800 for 2560×1600.)

        • tone21705
        • 8 years ago

        Very informative. Thanks

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 8 years ago

        I really doubt 1080p screens are a niche. Have you looked a TV store recently?

          • jensend
          • 8 years ago

          No duh; I said displays [i<]over[/i<] 1080p. Reading comprehension FAIL. 1920x1080 monitors start at $110. To get anything with significantly more resolution (i.e. not just the same horizontal res and 120px more vertical res) you're looking at upwards of $800. I'd say that qualifies as a niche market. It really is remarkable that 1920x1080 and 1920x1200 are the highest readily available resolutions on monitors from 21" all the way to 28" even though the latter is 177% as much screen area. The technology exists for really high-resolution displays; if you used the same pixel density as the iPhone 4, a 4K display (4096x2160) would have a sub-15" diagonal, and if display cost is proportional to area, such a display would cost ~$1,800. But the demand simply isn't there right now, for the reasons I mentioned above; high-resolution remains a niche market. So the smallest and cheapest 4K display is 36" and costs $36,000.

      • Prion
      • 8 years ago

      I would kill for a high-res 3MP+ 4:3 aspect (well, it’s going straight into portrait mode so 3:4) 8-bit IPS panel at around 20″~24″.

    • Parallax
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]"This hasn't been done before."[/quote<] Actually it has... over 10 years ago. IBM and Viewsonic were able to get enough 204ppi 22" screens for them both to introduce a product line (T22x and VP2290b respectively).

      • bjm
      • 8 years ago

      You have to keep it in context, he said, “The challenge is making lots of them” before that. Neither one of those panels you mentioned were mass produced on the level the iPad 3 is expected to be.

        • Parallax
        • 8 years ago

        True, but considering over a decade has passed I was hoping for a little improvement in yields.

          • Anonymous Hamster
          • 8 years ago

          There’s also an issue of cost. I don’t think Apple plans to increase the price of the iPad by the relative price ratio of the T22x vs. what a 100 ppi 22″ screen cost at the time.

    • ImSpartacus
    • 8 years ago

    Meh, it’s Apple. They can do it.

    Remember when the iPhone 4 came out and everyone was like “lulwat?” at that gorgeous screen. Same deal here.

    Apple won’t roll over and use an interim resolution (cough*qHD*cough). They will hit 2048×1536 and it will cost $500 for the cheapest tablet.

    Will there be supply issues? Probably. Will Apple artifically limit $500 16GB stocks to make sure they sell more high margin 32GB&64GB models? Probably. But will Apple fail to cram 2048×1536 pixels into that 9.7″ screen? Nope.

    It might be difficult to get an iPad 3 shortly after release (especially for $500), but Apple will ramp up production and the iPad 3 will be a success. Lots of money is at stake and we all know how Apple loves the $$.

      • khands
      • 8 years ago

      Basically this is what I see happening, and it will be good for everyone in the long run.

        • ImSpartacus
        • 8 years ago

        Exactly. Apple products don’t always have the best value on the market, but they move everyone forward.

        If it means I never have to see another 15″ 1366×768 laptop screen ever again, then I don’t care who pushes high end displays into mainstream, be it Apple, Satan, Bugs Bunny or otherwise.

          • internetsandman
          • 8 years ago

          This would be a time for the PC industry to sing hallelujah, IMO, if we can finally start seeing higher resolution laptop diplays. Competition is good for the industry in every regard, and it’s high time the industry started competing for cheaper, high resolutin panels

          Though I still wish I could find a 30″ 2560×1600 screen for under $1000 afer tax =(

            • ImSpartacus
            • 8 years ago

            Where do you live?

            Every few weeks, Dell sells its 27″ 1440p display for ~$800 in the US store. I know it’s not 2560×1600 and it’s not $30, but it’s a good monitor for the money.

            • internetsandman
            • 8 years ago

            Yeah, I’m looking at the 1440p monitor as the next logical step, sadly I’m in B.C, Canada, and the price of that monitor fluctuates around the $1000 mark. I haven’t checked their online store directly though, perhaps it’ll be different there from other retailers, thanks for the idea.

      • mcnabney
      • 8 years ago

      Apple MUST raise the resolution this way. iOS is not resolution independent like Android, WebOS, or WP7 are. It is double or nothing.

        • ImSpartacus
        • 8 years ago

        WP7 isn’t resolution independent. It’s 800×480 or 480×320. So you get 800×480 on 3.7″ screens and the Titan’s 4.7″er. It’s subpar, but at least they have excellent subpixel rendering to make the most of the limited pixel count. And it doesn’t hurt that the interface is pretty squarish, so resolution plays a smaller part.

          • mcnabney
          • 8 years ago

          I didn’t know that. I assumed independence because of the multiple resolutions. I also thought they had a qHD model out, but they don’t.

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