Apple didn't end up putting its retina display in the iPad 2, despite speculation before the device was unveiled. The new tablet's screen matches the original iPad, which has been portrayed as a disappointment in some reviews of the iPad 2, comparing it to the more impressive iPhone 4. DisplayMate president Dr Raymond Soneira begs to differ.
He's published the results of a 'display shoot-out' between the iPad 2 and iPhone 4, and reaches the perhaps surprising conclusion that "the display on the iPad 2 delivers almost identical performance to the impressive iPhone 4 retina display", although he goes on to say that Apple could make a couple of improvements via software updates to make the iPad 2's screen shine (metaphorically, not literally) even more.
He focuses on one statistic in particular: pixels per inch (ppi). The iPhone 4's screen has 326ppi, whereas the iPad 2 only has 132ppi. "The very high ppi is a major marketing feature for the iPhone 4, but it's actually something of an overkill (and primarily there for app compatibility) because existing anti-aliasing methods can successfully reduce noticeable pixellation at lower resolutions and ppi," writes Soneira.
That leads into his criticism of the iPad 2, claiming that its anti-aliasing technology is "far from state of the art and degrades the perceived sharpness of text and graphics". Soneira also claims the iPad 2's automatic brightness control doesn't work well enough, and needs a tweak in a forthcoming update.
It's worth noting that there is a vested interest here, since DisplayMate sells its own 'Display Optimisation Technology', and Soneira's article is a 'lite' version of the kind of analysis it provides for customers who make screens for all kinds of devices, including tablets. The DisplayMate president flags this up clearly in the piece, though.
The important thing is the conclusion: that in its current form, the iPad 2's screen doesn't suffer as much in the comparison with the iPhone 4 as you might think -- and that its performance could be improved in future software updates.
We still expect Apple to bring its retina display to the iPad in the future though, perhaps with an iPad 3 next year -- or, indeed, this year, if certain rumours are to be believed.