22 Comments

Summary:

DisplaySearch explains what exactly Apple did to pack four times the amount of pixels onto the new iPad screen compared to its predecessor’s none-too-shabby display. According to DisplaySearch, Apple did it using a pixel-design technique called Super High Aperture, or SHA.

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You might still be deciding whether the brighter, crisper Retina display justifies upgrading to the new iPad — in addition to smoother graphics and the option of 4G connectivity. Having seen it with my own eyes, I can attest that it is much brighter and far more pleasing to the eye than the iPad 2. But beyond noting the improved resolution (2048 × 1536 and 264 pixels per inch versus 1024 x 768 resolution and 132 pixels per inch), I can’t explain how Apple’s display engineers have managed to make the new iPad’s resolution so much better.

Luckily, the display experts over at DisplaySearch can explain what exactly Apple did to pack four times the amount of pixels onto the new iPad screen compared to its predecessor’s (none-too-shabby) display. According to DisplaySearch, Apple did it using a pixel-design technique called Super High Aperture, or SHA, which has a highly technical explanation:

SHA is a method of increasing aperture ratio by applying approximately a 3 [micrometer] thick photo-definable acrylic resin layer to planarize the device and increase the vertical gap between the [indium tin oxide] pixel electrodes and signal lines. As we explained in our TFT LCD Process Roadmap Report, this reduces unwanted capacitive coupling and enables the electrode to be extended over the gate and data lines without causing cross talk or affecting image quality—thus increasing aperture area.

If that wasn’t completely clear to you — and you’re not alone — here’s a graphic DisplaySearch put together showing what this design looks like in cross section:

But to achieve the proper effect, the new iPad also needs more backlighting. And DisplaySearch says it’s found that the new iPad has “at least twice as many” LEDs lighting the display as the previous version, the iPad 2, which had 36 LEDs. That, of course, would suggest higher power consumption, but Apple says the battery life (for Wi-Fi use) in the new model remains unchanged. So Apple has clearly figured out a way to compensate, likely with a bigger battery.

What’s interesting to note also is that DisplaySearch says this technique isn’t new, nor did Apple invent it. Rather, engineers at Sharp and JSR, a Japanese display materials manufacturer, came up with it. Just as with Gorilla Glass, the super-tough-to-crack glass from Corning that Apple brought to the mainstream with the original iPhone, with SHA Apple again shows its knack for seeing the potential of — and successfully integrating — other company’s products into its own by packaging them in a compelling way.

  1. Erica–great article. Did Apple give details on how they managed to achieve a better picture at no loss of batter life? Saying it is so is a nice claim, but is there proof? Could you reach out to Apple?

    1. Yeah, I can’t actually check that til I get my hands on one for more than 5 minutes. :) I’ll try to find out though.

      1. Apple didn’t come up with that. Sharp and Samsung did.

  2. TSL: I had just read an article about the new iPads battery being around 11,900mAh comparedNthe the currents 6,000mAh battery.

  3. James Brickley Friday, March 9, 2012

    iPad2 has a battery rated at 6930 mAh @ 25Wh but the new iPad has a battery rating of 11666 mAh @ 42Wh. So the battery is 70% more powerful to compensate for the extra power consumption and to even out at almost the same weight and battery life of approx. 10 hours on WiFi. 4G LTE might drain it faster than 3G however… Previous iPad2 is rated at 10 hours for WiFi but 9 hours for 3G. I would bet using 4G LTE might drain the batter much faster.

    The battery is larger but likely more efficient and other components may have shrunk or become smaller to keep the weight pretty close to the iPad2. Pretty amazing accomplishment by Apple to cram everything into a case design that is extremely close in weight and thickness! The engineering alone in the power management of the A5X dual core processor that includes a quadcore graphics engine is impressive.

    I don’t think any other tablet maker could come close to this without the cost going much higher. By the time they get close, Apple will again change the game.

    1. Actually I want the asus tablet. 17 hours of battery life…Plus you can add storage. I have the ipad.. to be bad honest.. Im not impressed.

      1. We got you the first time Jack ass, you are a troll now feck off

      2. actually no one cares about Asus tablet! No need for storage you can go cloud nowadays like skydive,icloud,box net just to name a few.. Let see if Asus can beat ipad3 in terms of sales.. No they won’t beat ipad3 cos no one cares!

      3. Hehe Cath & Idigweeds, whats wrong with the guy who expressed his/her feelings that he/she is having ipad but decided to move on to Asus? Why calling him/her troll, an mentioning people don’t care for Asus? Unless something is wrong with you (and most Apple fans) I don’t see anything wrong with his/her point there! Grow up!

  4. First.. Apple didn’t design the screens. Sharp and Samsung did. Apple ask and others do.

    1. Jack I will respond to your baiting since you took the time to troll this article and try to bash on Apple.

      Have you ever heard of a man named John Zhong? He holds the key patent to make Super High Aperture work. I’ll give YOU 3 guess where he works and the first 2 don’t count. Yep your right Jack he works at Apple. He is Director of Engineering.

      Jack before YOU try and bash Apple and promote Android in an article about Apple please do your homework. You made this way to easy to give you the smack down:) Have a nice day .

      1. You apple fans have such terrible reading comprehension.

        “What’s interesting to note also is that DisplaySearch says this technique isn’t new, nor did Apple invent it. Rather, engineers at Sharp and JSR, a Japanese display materials manufacturer, came up with it. Just as with Gorilla Glass, the super-tough-to-crack glass from Corning that Apple brought to the mainstream with the original iPhone, with SHA Apple again shows its knack for seeing the potential of — and successfully integrating — other company’s products into its own by packaging them in a compelling way.”

        Read the article before trolling.

  5. Anybody find it surprising that Apple continues to source 4:3 displays when even high-end 16:10 panels are becoming next to impossible to find?

    As for the device getting 9 hours on 4G, there’s a nasty joke going around that users will hit their data cap before the battery dies…

  6. There’s always one, isn’t there?
    http://scottsscripts.wordpress.com/

  7. Lindsworth Horatio Deer Saturday, March 10, 2012

    Bigger Battery or much higher density Lithium Polymer. Heat dissipation and batter battery power management helped to compensate for the increased heating effect. Clever Apple!!!!

    http://www.geezam.com/apple-ipad-3-looms-large/

  8. Umm, what? Apple engineer’s didn’t make the iPad display better, the OEM producing the panel did. Can we perhaps stop assuming that Apple is an OEM? They are a manufacturer that source parts/IP from other companies and assemble a final for-sale product. The A5X uses IP from ARM/Imagination. The display is likely from LG/Samsung, the touch controller is likely Atmel, etc, etc, etc. Even if some of these sources are wrong, please understand that Apple didn’t make any of them!

    1. Apple is NOT Dell or Asus or any other company that cobbles together existing products.

      Apple innovates, designs and creates ALL of their products. They essentially hire manufacturers to build products to their exact specs. Do Apple and third-parties collaborate on how that will be done? Of course. However the creative and design process is exclusively that of Apple’s creative and design engineers.

  9. Robert Rowshan Sunday, March 11, 2012

    combine this with Microsoft’s new 1ms delay touchscreen technology and we have a winner

  10. Erica, great article. Thanks for digging this up. Do you realize you just trumped the one and only Scobilizer? If you watch Scoble’s interview with Nanosys on 23 June 2011 here his title is “Is Nanosys’ awesome new screen technology gonna be in iPad 3? I hope so. Wow” … and in that interview, Scoble practically begs them to say that their technology is going to be in the new iPad. It appears Apple did not choose Nanosys per your investigation. Frankly, the overly zealous Scoble making predictions like this is getting to be old. Thanks for the much better grounded coverage here at Gigaom! If Curly of the 3 Stooges were around, Scobile would get the Curly sign about now!

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