For the last few weeks photos of purported prototype iPad 3 displays were floating around the web. Now, MacRumors actually got their hands on one and actually examined it under a microscope to confirm the resolution.
The original iPad and iPad 2 both have a 9.7″ 1024×768 IPS display with a total of 786,432 pixels at 130.61 PPI. At twice the density, the screen that MacRumors got their hands on would be 2048×1536 (presumably also IPS), which amounts to a whopping 3,145,728 pixels at 261.22 PPI. Compare this to 1080p HDTV resolution which is 1920×1080 and 2,073,600 pixels total. Although this screen has an impressive resolution, it’s actually not all that pixel dense. The iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S retina screen is 960×640 at 329.65 PPI.
Doubling the size of the screen on the iPad will do a lot for the aesthetics of the UI. Going from an iPhone 4S screen to the current-generation iPad screen really reveals how much sharper the iPhone’s screen is. I’ve heard a number of people say that the iPad would make a far better e-Reader if it had a more pixel-dense screen.
Rumors about a retina display on the iPad have been around ever since the original iPad launched. But is this really the iPad 3’s screen? I trust that the folks at MacRumors have been able to correctly identify this as an iPad screen, but are we sure it’s for the iPad 3? We’ve seen lots of evidence about of Apple products attributed to prototype parts that may or may not ever make it into the final product. Recall all the rumors surrounding the ‘iPhone 5’ (which turned out to be the iPhone 4S) launch. It’s even possible that this particular screen is part of ongoing work on the iPad 4.
For now, all we know for certain is that this is an iPad screen, and it’s definitely 2048×1536. Will it make it onto the iPad 3? Apple is expected to announce the iPad 3 at the beginning of next month… only time will tell.