Apple’s iPhone Retina display may soon become obsolete.

Apple’s AAPL iPhone 5S Retina resolution is 1136 x 640. Next year, competitors will have resolution of 3840 x 2160. The obsolescence is going to come far sooner than I had even recently expected based on information from Samsung’s Analyst Day. The new trouble for Retina displays came Wednesday in the form of an announcement by Qualcomm QCOM  , a major provider of mobile phone chips. If Apple fails to respond in a timely manner with a new display, it could have a serious effect on the stock, which I’ll discuss later in the column.

Until now, one of the impediments to Ultra HD mobile phones has been lack of a commercially available GPU capable of driving the massive number of pixels while using low power. Retina display is not Ultra HD. Now Qualcomm has introduced its next generation Snapdragon 805 “Ultra HD” processor. This is the first mobile processor that supports 4K Ultra HD resolution. According to Qualcomm, Snapdragon 805 samples are available now and will be delivered in commercial quantities in the first half of 2014.

From Samsung’s Analyst Day, Samsung is expected to introduce a 4K-display mobile phone in 2015. Samsung is anticipating an intermediate step between the Galaxy S4 display, the present-day flagship phone, and the 4K display in 2015. The intermediate step is a phone with a 560 ppi at 5.2 inches and a resolution of 2560 x 1440.

As a reference, Galaxy S4 provides a resolution of 441 ppi and a resolution of 1080 x 1920, and Apple iPhone 5S, the flagship Apple phone, provides 326 ppi and a resolution of 1136 x 640. iPad Air provides 264 ppi and a resolution of 2048 x 1536 on a 9.7 inch screen.

In display lingo, 4K simply means a display with a horizontal resolution of the order of 4,000; 4K Ultra HD is a resolution of 3840 x 2160. Right now, 4K is available in TVs and displays, but not yet in mobile phones. Panasonic PCRFY  has introduced a 20-inch 4K tablet…Read more at MarketWatch

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