Mac & iPad with Retina Displays coming? 3200×2000 Lion Wallpaper Hints Yes

Apr 8, 2011 - 12 Comments

Lion default wallpaper comparison

Last week we posted the newest version of the Fuji Mountain default wallpaper from Lion Developer Preview 2. If you haven’t seen it yet, I described it as a “rather large 3200×2000 pixels” and I didn’t think much of it beyond that.

However, one of our readers noticed 3200×2000 pixels is significantly larger than any existing resolution offered by Apple displays, including the 27″ and 30″ Apple Cinema Displays. Furthermore, the default wallpaper size in Mac OS X 10.6 is 2560×1600, which is exactly the maximum resolution of Apple’s 30″ Cinema Display. Is it just coincidence that Apple is bundling an ultra high resolution image in Lion as the new default wallpaper, or does this suggest that higher resolution Macs, possibly with retina displays, are coming sometime in the future?

To help answer that question, here’s a nice chart that reader Jeff Smith put together that shows what screen size at what viewing distance with that resolution would be considered a retina display:

Jeff Smith elaborates:

Notice that even for the closest viewing distance of 18 inches, a 3200 x 2000 resolution represents a Retina Display for display sizes up to and including 17 inches. And of course, that covers the entire range of Apple laptops on the market today.

And smaller displays wouldn’t need a resolution that high to be considered retina:

A 13.3” MacBook Air, for example, would need a screen providing approximately 2200 x 1375 pixels (191 dpi) to be considered a Retina Display at an 18-inch viewing distance.

Other than providing dramatically improved display clarity on a Mac, the other reason a Mac with a 3200×2000 pixel resolution makes sense is for iOS developers. So what does this have to do with iPad 3? Quoting from a February rumor about iPad 3:

… according to an analyst cited by AppleInsider, the high resolution retina display will come to iPad 3 in the form of a whopping 2048×1536 resolution display. If this happens, you’d expect similar displays to come to the Mac platform so that developers can accurately produce and test apps for the ultrahigh resolution.

Indeed, 3200×2000 would be such an ultrahigh resolution for a Mac, and it would be more than adequate to develop for a 2048×1536 pixel iPad 3 display.

Sure, this is speculation based on a new wallpaper in a developer preview OS, but I think Jeff is onto something here. If you want to learn more about this, check out Jeff’s full post on the matter, it’s a great read.


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS, Rumor


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  1. […] discussion of such hardware started before the iPad 2 was even announced in 2011, with various pieces of evidence and conjecture surfacing early […]

  2. […] Display. So kommt das Hintergrundbild des Fujijama mit einer Auflösung von 3200 x 2000 Px. Quelle: OSX Daily Schlagworte: iPad, Mac, OS X Lion, Retina Displayamazon_ad_tag = "apfel-scout-21"; amazon_ad_width […]

  3. […] und ihre Probleme 25. April 2011 | Autor Gerrit Rating 3.00 out of 5 [?]Ein Wallpaper in der Lion-Beta hat es uns schon angekündigt: In baldiger Zukunft werden Macs und iPad 2 wohl mit dem neuen, […]

  4. […] If Macs get a retina display, what would the resolutions be? 3200×2000 like the default Lion wallpaper suggests? There is no definitive answer, but the above chart shows what may be the best guesses yet. […]

  5. Jeff Smith says:

    Thanks for the link. Frankly, I tend to agree with noah, that this kind of “reading of the tea leaves” is not likely to produce anything of value. As I said at the end of my piece, “…it could just be a very large photo of Mount Fuji.” And it probably is.

    But the the calculations are mildly amusing to do, and if you’re going to explore a topic, might as well exhaust every avenue, right?

    With that in mind, I posted an update that some (except noah) might find interesting. At least until the next silly Apple rumor comes along. :)

    It’s posted on punchingIN here:

  6. […] OS X Daily linked to my article, Chasing the 6.4 megapixel unicorn, where I speculated on the rationale for Apple […]

  7. noah says:

    Not this again. We’ve already seen high-res stuff and jumped to conclusions. Maybe the high-res wallpaper can switch between screens and desktops? Maybe it’s just there cause it’s a beta/preview?

  8. Chuck says:

    There are other hints too, like HiDPI display modes and resolution independence.

    New Macs will come along with Lion to support HiDPI?

    • lituanus.vulgaris says:

      Unfortunately HiDPI modes do not hint at resolution independence at all. these are two different things.

  9. Ian says:

    This would definitely solve the iPad retina dev problem that everyone complained about earlier in the year before iPad 2 was announced. I hope it happens, these would be gorgeous screens, but I think we’re at least a year away to make something like this affordable.

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