Watch Now: What is a Super Retina XDR Display?

Did you know that your iPhone display has more pixels than your eye?

What is a Super Retina XDR display?

Every recent iPhone, from the 11 Pro to the iPhone 15, has had the same type of display: The Super Retina XDR. I know what you’re thinking – that’s a bit rubbish! Can’t they make a better one? 

And the answer to that question… is ‘not really’! 

What kind of display is Super Retina XDR?

Apple’s Super Retina XDR display is an OLED (pronounced ‘oh-led’) display, which stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode. The pixels in these displays are like teeny-tiny coloured lightbulbs. 

This is different to a cheaper LCD (Liquid Crystal Display), which shines a white backlight through millions of teeny-tiny colour filters. Nearly every phone company has stopped using LCDs on their flagship phones – Samsung’s AMOLED display, and Google’s ‘Actua’ display, are types of OLED screen.

Why higher resolution screens aren’t worth it

Your eye has pixels too! Similar to a camera sensor, – your retina (the sensor in your eye) also has millions of tiny coloured light-sensing cells. In order to be able to tell two pixels apart, the light from each of them has to hit different sensor cells on your retina. If they’re so close that their light hits the same cell, then the image blurs together into one.

Now that’s the sciencey part out of the way, let’s get on to the real question.

How many pixels can the human eye see?

Well, from a distance of 12 inches, the answer is about 300 pixels per inch of screen. Super Retina XDR displays have a Pixel Density of a whopping 460 pixels per inch, which means you’d need to be holding your phone just 8 inches from your face before you could tell the individual pixels apart!

What does XDR mean?

XDR stands for ‘eXtreme Dynamic Range’ – which basically means there can be a huge amount of difference between the dark and bright areas of an image. Apple boasts that their latest XDR displays, such as on the iPhone 15 Pro, can reach an eyeball-sizzling 2,000 nits of brightness, which is literally as bright as a sunrise!

On a cheaper LCD display, the bright white backlight can bleed through the screen, making areas of your image that are supposed to be pitch black look grey instead. But OLED displays don’t need a backlight, allowing the dark areas of your image to stay dark.


Apple’s iPhone display is right at the edge of what the human eye can perceive. So next time somebody tries to sell you a phone with a 4K screen, just remember – you probably won’t notice a blind bit of difference.