A “Retina Display” is defined by Apple as a screen with a resolution so high that the individual pixels cannot be distinguished from each other by the human eye when held at a normal viewing distance. The Retina Display on a 9.7-inch iPad has a resolution of 2048×1536, but the iPad 2’s screen resolution is 1024×768. The iPad 2 does not have a Retina Display.
The Retina Display debuted on the iPad with the third generation model. The original iPad Mini is the only iPad since the Retina Display was introduced on the iPad to not have a Retina Display. Similar to the iPad 2, it has a 1024×768 resolution display.
Do You Need a Retina Display?
Apple’s introduction of high resolution displays on the iPad and iPhone started a trend in the smartphone and tablet industry. There are now tablets that have 4K displays, which is overkill on a tablet that measures less than twenty inches diagonally. While 4K support through video out would be useful when connecting a tablet to a TV or monitor that supports 4K, you would need to hold the tablet up to your nose for it to make any real difference on a smaller device. Most websites are designed for a 1024×768 resolution, which is the major reason why the original iPad debuted with this resolution. It also means you are getting the same basic experience browsing the web on an iPad 2 as you would experience on a newer iPad.
The writing on the screen might be slightly smoother as the font takes advantage of the higher resolution, but you would need to study them side-by-side to really tell the difference. But while having a 1024×768 display will be fine for many tasks on the iPad, streaming movies and playing games are two areas where the Retina Display will really shine.
The iPad 2 falls a little short of 720p resolution, but with a Retina Display, you can stream 1080p video from Netflix. It’s hard to call this a monumental issue because the 9.7-inch screen size doesn’t scream “I need 1080p video or I’ll look horrible!” quite like a 50-inch television, but it is a noticeable difference. Gaming tends to be hit or miss. No one will complain about the loss of Retina Display graphics while moving candy around in Candy Crush Saga, but the higher resolution display certainly looks nice when playing Real Racing 3. Gamers tend to be focused on high resolution graphics and frame rate, but even games like Real Racing 3 will look good and play the same on 1024×768 display.
Which iPads have a Retina Display?
The Retina Display debuted with the iPad 3. The iPad 4 also has a Retina Display. With the fifth generation of iPad, Apple started branding the 9.7-inch tablets as the “iPad Air”. Every iPad Air has a Retina Display as well as every iPad Pro, the newest line of iPads. The only iPad Mini that doesn’t have a Retina Display is the original iPad Mini. In most ways, it is simply an iPad 2 with a smaller form factor, although it does have support for 4G LTE networks.
The iPad Air and 9.7-inch iPad Pro have a screen resolution of 2048×1536. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro has a screen resolution of 2732×2048, which gives it the same 264 pixels-per-inch (PPI) as the 9.7-inch iPad. The iPad Mini 2 and more recent iPad Minis have the same 2048×1536 screen resolution as the 9.7-inch iPad. However, because the Mini measures 7.9 inches diagonally, this resolution gives it a PPI of 326.
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