Apple first introduced its Liquid Retina Display on its first-generation iPad Pro launched in September 2015. The display soon appeared on the iPhone XR in 2018 and the iPhone 11 in 2019. Nevertheless, this display forms part of the “Retina” brand of displays with higher pixel density.
The Pros: Advantages of Liquid Retina
What exactly is Liquid Retina, and how does it differ from Super Retina? For starters, Super Retina Display is essentially a trademark for display panels based on organic light-emitting diode or OLED while its “Liquid” counterpart is a trademark for LED-backlit in-plane switching liquid crystal displays or IPS LCDs.
The advantages of Liquid Retina Display essentially include all of the advantages of an IPS LCD. Take note of the following:
• Better LCD Technology: An IPS LCD is technically superior to other older generation LCD technologies such as twisted nematic and virtual alignment LCDs in terms of image quality. It has better color reproduction and wider viewing angles than these two, thus making it an ideal display tech for use in mid-range to high-end consumer electronic devices.
• Edge Over OLED Displays: OLED suffers from two notable drawbacks: poor outdoor visibility because it lacks backlighting and shorter lifespan due to fragility of organic diodes and uneven degradation of blue-emitting diodes from the rest. An IPS LCD can display brighter images while under direct sunlight, and it also has a longer lifespan.
• More Cost-Effective: The manufacturing cost of IPS is lower than OLED. Hence, to drive down manufacturing cost without sacrificing quality, Apple tends to feature Liquid Retina displays on some of its high-end products, including the iPad Air, iPad Pro, and the MacBook line of computers.
The Cons: Disadvantages of Liquid Retina
The Super Retina Display is currently featured on high-end iPhone products beginning from iPhone X and newer iPhone models, thereby marking an increasing shift to OLED display technology. OLEDs have key advantages of IPS.
Nevertheless, Liquid Retina Display also has all of the critical disadvantages of IPS LCD technology. Take note of the following:
• Inferior Contrast Ratio: OLEDs have a higher contrast ratio because they can selectively turn off pixels on dark areas of an image. An IPS LCD can only produce darker shades of grey because its backlighting often leaks out. Hence, when compared side-by-side, an OLED produces deeper and natural blacks than an IPS.
• Pixel Response Time: An IPS has a slower natural response time than OLED. However, as demonstrated by Apple, hardware tweaking can improve the refresh rate of its Liquid Retina Display to up to 120Hz. However, this feature is only reserved for high-end devices such as the iPad Pro 2018.
• Less Power Efficiency: OLEDs consume less energy because it does not require backlighting. On the other hand, an IPS LCD is a transmissive display technology that requires strong backlighting to improve its display clarity, thus consuming more power than non-backlit and self-emissive displays.
Next-Generation Display Technologies for Apple
Remember that OLED display or Super Retina Display remains the dominant display technology used in the top-tier portable devices of Apple. However, the company announced in 2019 that it is currently beginning to develop its in-house capability to deploy advanced IPS LCD based on mini-LED backlighting.
Technology enthusiasts have noted that the company would soon be using mini-LED IPS LCD on its future models of iPad Pro and MacBook Pro devices. The technology combines the inherent advantages of IPS LCDs with some of the notable characteristics of OLEDs. Thus, it would mark a new addition to the Retina branding of Apple.