American multinational technology company Apple Inc. has introduced two new types of Retina display: The Super Retina display first featured on the iPhone X in 2017 and the Liquid Retina first featured on the iPhone XR and the iPad Pro in 2018.
What is the Difference Between Super Retina and Liquid Retina Displays?
It is important to highlight the fact that the Super Retina and Liquid Retina display from Apple are part of the overall family of Retina displays marketed by the company. Hence, these two are simply marketing terminologies used as part of the marketing strategy of Apple.
To understand the difference between the two, take note that the former is a specific OLED display technology while the latter is an IPS LCD technology. Hence, a Super Retina is just an OLED panel while a Liquid Retina is simply an IPS LCD panel.
Understanding the difference between the two essentially requires understanding the difference between OLED and IPS LCD technologies. Take note of the following key points:
1. Cost and Price
For starters, Super Retina has been used on more expensive or top-tier Apple devices such as the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max while the Liquid Retina has been used in the less expensive iPhone XR.
Take note that OLED display is a premium type of display that has been used in mid-tier to high-tier smartphone and tablet devices. Using OLED display or more specifically, Super Retina on iPhone XS and XS Max is part of marketing these devices as premium Apple products.
Manufacturing OLED displays is costlier than IPS LCD, thus making Super Retina more expensive than Liquid Retina. This is another reason why less expensive products such as the iPhone XR has used Liquid Retina to drive down its cost and thus, its price.
2. Display Quality
Another difference between Super Retina and Liquid Retina is display quality. Because it is an OLED display, Super Retina has specific advantages that make it superior to Liquid Retina or other IPS LCD panels
The advantages of Super Retina over Liquid Retina include power efficiency due to the absence of backlighting, thinner profile, better contrast ratio due to deeper natural blacks, wider viewing angle, and faster response time or refresh rate.
However, it is worth noting that Liquid Retina has specific advantages over Super Retina stemming from the pros of IPS LCD and the cons of OLED. These are more accuracy in color reproduction, better outdoor visibility, and longer lifespan.
3. Lifespan or Longevity
It is critical to discuss and compare the lifespan of Super Retina and Liquid Retina. As mentioned, IPS LCD has a longer lifespan than OLED. Hence, Liquid Retina has a longer lifespan than Super Retina.
Because it is an OLED display, the Super Retina has two notable disadvantages or vulnerabilities: faster blue-pixel degradation, uneven overall degradation, and susceptibility to damage due to water or moisture. These cons are not as grave as in the case of Liquid Retina.
OLEDs are more prone to screen burn-ins that can be noticeable after one to two years of use. In this display technology, blues and whites fade faster than reds and greens, thus resulting in reduced brightness, color shifts, and burn-ins.
4. Form Factor
Between Super Retina and Liquid Retina, the former has more innovative applications as far as form factor is concerned. Remember that OLED is thinner and more flexible than IPS LCD. Hence, the iPhone XS and XS Max have better screen-to-body ratio than the iPhone XR.
The iPhone XS and XS Max are also thinner than the iPhone XR because their Super Retina or OLED display panels have allowed Apple to decrease their physical dimensions.
Developments in OLED technology, including the utilization of plastic OLEDs and the introduction of flexible OLEDs, can one day lead to the introduction of Apple products with rollable, bendable, or foldable Super Retina displays.
What is the Future of Super Retina and Liquid Retina Display?
The most recent models of iPhone starting from the high-tier iPhone 11s and including the entire iPhone 12 line now feature Super Retina displays, thus marking an increased inclination toward OLED display technology. However, the iPad line of tablet computers, including the high-end iPad Pro, still feature Liquid Retina or an IPS LCD.
It also appears that Apple are developing further its existing LCD technology through mini-LED. Reports revealed that the company has been building its team of engineers to develop its capability in deploying mini-LED displays for use in its next generation of iPad and MacBook computers.
A pivot toward mini-LED-backlit IPS LCDs would mark the need for Apple to discover or utilize technologies that would rival the quality of OLED displays minus the drawbacks, as well as an attempt to keep down manufacturing cost as low as possible.