Scientist Bryan Jones of the University of Utah wanted to know if the iPhone 5 display really was better than the already-impressive iPhone 4 Retina display. Being a retinal neuroscientist and a photographer, he had access to a Canon 1D Mk III DSLR and a stereomicroscope that let him examine the two displays in detail.
Though it's hard to capture in an image, Jones says the iPhone 5 pixels are much closer to the glass surface than the iPhone 4. This observation isn't surprising as the iPhone 5 uses new display technology that combines the touchscreen with the display. This contrasts with the iPhone 4, which sandwiches a separate touchscreen layer between the display and the glass.
Jones also examined the pixels under high magnification and discovered that the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 4's pixels are about the same size, but the iPhone 5's are more vibrant and have better contrast than the iPhone 4. The iPhone 5's pixels are also more square and less oblong than the pixels in its older counterpart.
Jones says you don't need a 3D microscope to notice the difference between the two iPhones; all you have to do is look at the dark blacks and vibrant colors of the iPhone 5 to see the improvement. These changes may be small in scale, but they could have a big impact on users, who will have a more pleasing visual experience with the new iPhone 5.