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With a touchscreen device, some of the most important aspects of its specifications are within the display itself. Sure, processors, RAM, memory, cameras, battery life and everything in between matters, too. But it's all about that high definition.

Apple knocked us out of our seats with the iPhone 4, which launched in the summer of 2010 with the highest density display on any phone (at that time). The tiny, Retina Display on the iPhone 4 and 4S measures only 3.5-inches and packs a friendly 960 by 640, meaning that particular display touts a pixels per inch rating of 326. Other devices of that time – like the now classic EVO 4G, for instance – touted a giant, 4.3-inch display. However, it only packed a WVGA (800 by 480 pixels) resolution, which equates to 217ppi.

Oh, how times have changed.

Nowadays, it's uncommon for a phone to come sporting anything short of qHD resolution (960 by 540), and a large number of handsets come bearing full 720p displays. Some devices, like the Galaxy Note, exceed 720p with WXGA displays (1280 by 800 pixels). Pixels per inch measures keep climbing. When it comes to tablets, things are quite different. The vast majority of Android tablets ship with WXGA like the Note, while smaller tabs feature various, lower resolutions. And the original iPad came with a 1024 by 768 pixels.

That said, expectations have been on the rise for some time now, ever since the next generation iPad was rumored to feature a Retina Display. OEMs have been in a race to cram more pixels in the same amount of space.

Yesterday afternoon, Apple took the stage and finally made the new iPad official, with an HD display in tow. The Retina Display of the new iPad touts a display resolution that exceeds the number of pixels in a standard 1080p screen by over 50 percent, 2048 by 1536 pixels. And there are a handful of Android tablets on the horizon that will feature WUXGA displays at 1920 by 1200 pixels.

All of this is kind of crazy, don't you think? There is even talk that the rumored Samsung Galaxy S III might feature a 1080p dislpay. By no means am I saying that I won't take full advantage of displays that exceed or meet 1080p. But it's just a bit excessive, no?

While it may look beautiful, packing so many pixels can come with some serious caveats. In terms of the iPad's Retina Display, Apple quadrupled the number of pixels that the original iPad and iPad 2 had. They also introduced the A5X dual-core chip that touts quad-core graphics. Both of these things require suck a ton of juice, thus the need for Apple to jump from a 25Whr battery to a 42.5Whr cell. This resulted in a slightly thicker and heavier device while only maintaining the expected 10 hours of battery life.

Without proper optimization, super high resolution displays can negatively affect performance, too. I'm sure the A5X and NVIDIA's Tegra 3 can handle larger than 1080p resolutions – otherwise we wouldn't even be talking about this. But that's still a lot of pixels to push. Even with hardware that is fully capable of handling the workload, it's easily possible for the software to be lacking. I wouldn't be surprised to see a drop in frame rate or intermittent lag on some HD devices.

Also, the size of applications and games are going to start shooting through the roof. Google just bumped the maximum application size to 4GB (50MB for the actual APK file). As if downloads weren't large enough already, HD graphics will definitely increase file sizes for just about everything.

So is any of this something I want?

Honestly, I'm on the fence about it. There's no doubt I love crystal clear graphics. I've become a bit of a pixel junkie as of late, especially after owning the Galaxy Nexus and iPhone 4S, and picking up photography as a bit of a hobby. But as many of you already know, I bought a Transformer Prime a few weeks ago and after nearly a year with the Galaxy Tab 10.1, I grew used to the standard graphics. I don't need true HD. And for now, I would prefer steady performance over insane graphics. For one, mobile gaming is finally coming around, but it's not quite up to par yet. (I spent a few hours yesterday testing a bunch of the Android games I have bought for gamepad support and was disappointed to find very few non-Xperia Play games support PS3 or Xbox controllers.) Nothing about on-screen controls makes me want to play a (console-like) game from my tablet.

Then again, it is kind of disappointing to see the limitations of Adobe's Photoshop Touch application due to hardware. Viewing and editing pictures could be a lot better if the resolution were just a tad higher. But I can't realistically edit photos (and export them in HD) from my tablet anyway ... yet.

High definition is nice. There's no question about that. In fact, it's hard to even say I don't want it. I do. But, right now, there's little that can take advantage of it, and for once, I'd like to give a technology a little time to bake a while before jumping on the bandwagon. For the time being, 720p and WXGA will do for me.

Regardless, I want to hear you side, readers. Are you more interested in as many pixels as possible? Or do you want to wait until more apps and games will support the super HD resolutions? Are you buying an Android tablet or the new iPad simply for a higher res display?

Image via The Verge


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109 Reactions to this post

"What ONE smartphone feature matters the most to you?"


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Joshua Becker
Joshua Becker Battery life is ALL I care about!
Ruben Lim
Ruben Lim The screen resolution and THE DAMN BATTERY!
Prince Alexander
Prince Alexander Most be android phone
Jared JD Scott
Jared JD Scott nope not really
Geoffrey P. Spicer
Geoffrey P. Spicer One that works
Rick Conrad
Rick Conrad Tuff 1 Arron. I would have to say the os. Has to be an awesome experience because they all do so much. Droid is king!!
Derrick Zahand
Derrick Zahand Yes look at a motorola pentile screen then look at the iPhone 4s screen it matters
Terrence Dc York
Terrence Dc York Doesn't matter til u have a iPhone 4s then look at other peoples screen and syh
Daniel Clem
Daniel Clem Rooting and Good Roms!!!
Kenneth Li
Kenneth Li what i dont get is.. my lg nitro has 1280x720 resoultions, same as android tablet! why cant i run tablet apps on my phone??
Fonzy Paniagua
Fonzy Paniagua Battery life and Super amoled Hd display
Ben Bartholomew
Ben Bartholomew Battery Life! But manufactures don't care
Perro Rosello
Perro Rosello yes I do
Mohd Helmy Mahat
Mohd Helmy Mahat speedy, stability, beautiful display, reliable web connectivity.
James Adelan Cowie
James Adelan Cowie Sluts
Richard Ameen
Richard Ameen How everything flows together in the OS
Mauka Side
Mauka Side Yes to HD
Rolando Quezada
Rolando Quezada What matters to me the most is the amoled display babyyyy
Gerald Dawkins
Gerald Dawkins Screen size,display,processor, and customization.
Steve Hirjak
Steve Hirjak ...but, if a manufacturer asked me, I'd say to make sure it has more operating RAM for smoothness.
Steve Hirjak
Steve Hirjak There is no one feature...having any single good feature is always ruined by another crappy feature.
Brent Legendre
Brent Legendre Something that can give me an elevated and undeserving opinion of myself.
Austin Craig Taylor
Austin Craig Taylor Cosmetic design, and battery life
Hansel Starley
Hansel Starley Design.
Zach Cline
Zach Cline
Cory Wilson
Cory Wilson Yes
Dylan Greene
Dylan Greene Processer and battery
???
??? Battery is very important but if ur like me, u want it all. Fast processor, beautiful screen, a lot of memory, awesome camera, useful apps.. if I had to choose one... I couldn't. If I had to pick a phone right now it would be the note.
J Litz Van
J Litz Van How about, CALL QUALITY??? After all, it is a phone.
Thanh Phan
Thanh Phan Yes duh
Hubert John Abiera
Hubert John Abiera Stability --> lack of stuttering and lag.
Cyrus Taylor
Cyrus Taylor I really don't notice a big difference until I've been used to my iPhone 4S and look at a different phone and it seems blurry
Lain Ethan Macauley
Lain Ethan Macauley Battery life.
Devin Martinez
Devin Martinez The apple logo on the back...BOOM !!!
Orly Maravilla
Orly Maravilla battery life matter more....
George Isenhart
George Isenhart I use mine for business so funtuonality is a must.
Zach Cline
Zach Cline They aren't just " phones"
Jeff Irvine
Jeff Irvine I really only care about the complexity of development on a device. Make it easy for developers to develop on it and you'll sell more phones! :-)
Jose Angel Santiago
Jose Angel Santiago Oh and battery life
Jose Angel Santiago
Jose Angel Santiago Speed,Web experience,camera and speakerphone quality,
Mark E Lynch
Mark E Lynch HD all the way
Marti Ruiz
Marti Ruiz Yes
Robert Manser
Robert Manser Oh and processor LOL
Robert Manser
Robert Manser HD DISPLAY:................., Sent From My Htc Rezound 720p...
Travis Brown
Travis Brown Probably LTE connectivity
Daniel Cuadrado
Daniel Cuadrado Ease of use.
Aaron Dean
Aaron Dean Hd display on a phone is a sales pitch and nothing more.
Maxi Fabián
Maxi Fabián The priority for me is the RAM and the Processor. I Love Exynos and Texas Instruments.. I Think Qualcomm are not bad but lags often. I never tried a nvidia mobile procesor yet.. The unique phone that right know completes all those facts is the Motorola Atrix 3. HD Res, Tegra 3 quad core, 2Gb of RAM connected in Dual Channel and 3300mah battery.. And of course Android 4.0. That will be my next phone when it comes out.
Zach Cline
Zach Cline Jonathan there was somebody at the keynote that just used a connection kit with the iPad 3 and it worked just fine.
Alisha Michelle Hull
Alisha Michelle Hull Battery life is #1 for me!!! I have the HTC EVO and the battery is horrible....I actually have 2 batteries that I carry with me....and they all die within 30 minutes if use. Why have a phone, no matter the other specs, if you can't use it due to a dead battery???? I'm sooooooo ready for my upgrade in July....I plan on getting the SGS2 Epic Touch, which I've heard has great battery life!!! And is an amazing phone!
Rhanier Santiago
Rhanier Santiago Battery life and screen size.
Roger Ford
Roger Ford For me battery life and proc speed to run all apps
Jonathan Morley
Jonathan Morley I think if the iPad 3 had a built in usb port so I could connect my DSLR camera to it and use it to proof the photos in real time then the HD resolution would be helpful but otherwise the iPad 3 is still too limited and crippled when compared to other tablets on the market these days.
Carlos Nava
Carlos Nava yez
Zach Cline
Zach Cline An over the top screen is not. Waste.
Reinis Jansons
Reinis Jansons I think for phone , no need more then qHD screen.
David Mallayev
David Mallayev the most important feature is proceser
Rod Tucker Sr.
Rod Tucker Sr. NO LAG!!!! then battery/internet speed
Vicente Reyes
Vicente Reyes A nice screen yes. An over the top screen is a waist. Unless its a TV.
Camren Hall
Camren Hall Battery life,good camera,fast speeds,and screen quality
Jaden Augustin
Jaden Augustin batt life an speed
Joseph Reger
Joseph Reger Its a tie between Battery life and functionality
Wesley Burkett
Wesley Burkett I went from a iphone 4. And bought the gala y note out right and I don't regret at all getting the note i love this phone and getting useful to android again is hard but iphone to this was not baffled.and the battery life is almost the same for me. But i will always be a apple fan boy. So i saved my upgrade for the iphone 5. But the notes battery is very good
Francisco Saucedo
Francisco Saucedo as long as the performance of the device don't slow down
Chris J
Chris J Battery life. Yes HD matters.
Zach Cline
Zach Cline @ Cesario- There are a few that actually do. It's the same with people that complain about tablets and call them useless. Yeah they're s useless that my iPad completely replaced my laptop for what I do.. I'm not saying that they'll completely replace PC's right now. But given the rate technology is evolving I would say give it another five years or so.
Dustin Steinruck
Dustin Steinruck Expandable ram!!! The internal ram gets used up the devices performance lags horribly.. If there was a way to expand the ram maybe with an sd card specifically designed for that purpose.
Cesario Brito Jr.
Cesario Brito Jr. Tech is evolving and people complain?
Jake Harmon
Jake Harmon Phone
Sean Gentry
Sean Gentry 3 months ago I would have said no, but after having the Skyrocket and now the Galaxy Note, yes. Followed closely by processor speed.
Mark Balcher
Mark Balcher So yes, the display quality is the biggest feature in any phone, I'd say. People are like wow what kind of phone is that
Yanal Shoumenn
Yanal Shoumenn well of course, but i do not consider it among the top 3 priorities
Jidtapad Wattanabhuti
Jidtapad Wattanabhuti very muchhhhhhhhhhh.
Jose Angel Santiago
Jose Angel Santiago Camera and speaker phone quality!!!
Mark Balcher
Mark Balcher Absolutely, I have an Epic touch, and got used to it pretty quickly. Went over a friends house and he has the first version of the Verizon Droid by motorola, omg. the droid was soo friggin dull. it looked awful. And if im correct, the resolutions are the same on both devices, except for Samsung's Super Amoled Plus display on my Epic. Wow, what a shocker, I can't even imagine how nice the G Nexus is with it's 720p display.
Zach Cline
Zach Cline And why would you complain about an excellent display? That makes absolutely no sense. " This screen is just too clear for me" lmao.
Anthony Torres Ortiz
Anthony Torres Ortiz BATTERY LIFE!
Angel Adrian Marquez
Angel Adrian Marquez if u say no ur a dumbass
Pierce G Hohenstein
Pierce G Hohenstein That, for me, is the deciding factor when buying a phone. I love my iPhone and its pixel density. Nothing else compares. I wish it had a larger display however.
Nipun Arora
Nipun Arora It's not that. It's not at all necessary for every smart phone to deliver an HD display,a good display with at least 480*800 is must,according to me. There are many kind of people in the market,company needs to think about everyone.
Christian Herrera
Christian Herrera Yes it does matter
Peter Doyle
Peter Doyle Screen Size, 3,7 inches is to small (Giggity) can sort of cope with 4inch screen, 4.3 inch is perfect and currently got galaxy nexus with 4.65 inches (but the screen has to compensate for the lack of hardware buttons) and after screen size its battery life and then OS.
Aaron Couts
Aaron Couts I'm more concerned having a functioning phone with as little issues as possible.
Abram Wenevermet Dennis
Abram Wenevermet Dennis All Androids crash & force close Duane lol
Jerry Benoit
Jerry Benoit Of course
Abram Wenevermet Dennis
Abram Wenevermet Dennis On tablets yes.. phones no I really don't care 2 watch movies on a phone..
Anonymous
Anonymous Sure, why not? but not at the expense of battery life and performance...
Lee Lek Cheong
Lee Lek Cheong battery life first... or not its pointless... kinda.. hehehe
Duane Yeoh
Duane Yeoh Reliability. I hate the app crashes and force closes on my desire
Onix Rodriguez
Onix Rodriguez Ha, ha! All I read is: "haaahh I got my Galaxy with amoled screen, take that iPhone!"; now with the retina on the iPad owning every other device: "who cares? It's not necesary after all." LOL.
David Harness
David Harness Screen. I despise any screen with less than 300ppi.
Omar Torres
Omar Torres Yeah
Nick Kathrein
Nick Kathrein It makes a difference. Lance, you sound like my OLD dad when HD tvs came out and he said his tube tv looked just as good as the new HD tvs.
Michael Ducylowycz
Michael Ducylowycz Connectivity
Péter Friedrich
Péter Friedrich HD yes, stupid 4:3 with a useless high res NO
Frank Mendoza
Frank Mendoza Yes it does. Next phone I get needs to have a 720 p screen
Angel Higuera
Angel Higuera yes
Eric Huxtable
Eric Huxtable Yes.. if the technology exist, I want it. To the Max.. that why we all exist... to desire the new new ideas and manifestations. Imagining creates.
Lance Burley
Lance Burley no, i mean it is not like the picture becomes any more vivid then it already is..........these Retina, HD displays are nothing but marketing hype that people buy into just to say they have it.........a screen is a screen is a screen...........lance.b
Joe Czo
Joe Czo Yes
Eric Dodds
Eric Dodds For me its the build quality and customization of the device, I'm never going to need 10 billion pixels in my phone display its just unnecessary.
Henry Quinn Miller
Henry Quinn Miller ummmmm.... DUH. Especially for the long Netflix sessions.
Travis Todd
Travis Todd Screen and processing speed is what's really important
Nutthawut Bunsong
Nutthawut Bunsong HELL YES!
Prabhath Jay
Prabhath Jay yes
James Gustavo Hidalgo
James Gustavo Hidalgo You've got to be a fool if you say NO.
Angel Adrian Marquez
Angel Adrian Marquez yeah
Peter Magdy Rizk
Peter Magdy Rizk yes....
Bra Kwaku Zee
Bra Kwaku Zee NO




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