Mac Retina Display Resolution Possibilities

Apr 22, 2011 - 7 Comments

Mac retina display resolutions

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.

The resolutions are based on a simple idea from a great post on The Elaborated (via DaringFireball), double the existing screen resolutions, just like Apple did when they introduced the retina iPhone 4 and doubled the iPhone 3GS. Why double? The problem with a Mac (or any) retina display is that it would cause all UI elements to shrink dramatically, making everything tiny and causing a pain for developers to adapt. The solution is to take the same approach Apple chose with the iPhone 4, which as you may recall went over practically seamlessly in terms of apps and UI elements in iOS. Why wouldn’t they take the exact same approach to the Mac?

What gives further support to the doubling of existing resolutions is that TheElaborated’s hypothesized retina iPad display in the above chart is identical to what an analyst claims about iPad 3 resolution: 2048×1536. And the MacBook Pro 15″ resolution of 1650×1080? It doubles to 3300×1620, which is remarkably close to the 3200×2000 resolution of the Lion Fuji mountain wallpaper that started this whole string of retina Mac speculation.

There are some other clues too, such as the infinitely scalable Helvetica font appearing in Final Cut X as John Siracusa noticed, plus there’s a (rumored) presence of stronger resolution independent elements in Mac OS X Lion. Clues and speculation or not, doesn’t it make sense to bring retina to the Mac eventually? I think when costs allow for Apple to produce ultra high resolution Mac displays, they will come, and they’ll look amazing.


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS, Rumor


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  1. […] the icons quite a bit larger, but you’ll start noticing pixelation because Mac OS X does not yet support resolution independence. For you to see the changes, you’ll need to have Magnification enabled through System […]

  2. […] was how Apple handled bringing retina displays to the iPhone 4, and as we saw in some of the possible resolutions for retina Macs, it’s what makes most sense for developers and designers to […]

  3. Saturdays says:

    Apple has built in support for this already, they are def. tackling the problem.

  4. Joseph says:

    Maybe they just liked that picture? Also being a beta test OS they choose a resolution that would scale well no matter what size screen you tested it on.

  5. Rootbeer says:

    It may very well be intentional that Apple is starting to plan now for the day when displays with Retina-quality pixel densities are available in tablet/notebook/desktop sizes, but before that can happen, manufacturers would have to start making them!

    There are very few commercially-available LCD components above 4″ diagonal that have achieved greater than 300 pixels per inch; above 10″, even 200ppi is a rarity. A Retina Cinema Display isn’t going to be even possible until OS X 10.8 is out at the earliest, and probably not affordable until 10.9.

    At least, not with conventional LCD technology. Maybe what we should be looking for is something new and different, like that layered e-ink/LCD thing seen in that patent filing…

  6. Peter M says:

    There is nothing in the industry with resolutions that high, these screens would cost a fortune unless Apple’s buying power can make them affordable.

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