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You could make the case that our almost year-old iPhone 4 sample is suffering from the effects aging, which could explain the difference in brightness and color temperature, but given some of the significant differences, we powered up the lab microscope for a closer look.
Technically, we're supposed to calibrate our microscope for scale, but I decided to include two pictures instead to give you an idea of how small these subpixels really are.
This first picture is a sliver of a stained onion root cell and a single human hair on top of a stage micrometer slide (used in biological sciences to make measurements). The little dot in the corner has a diameter of 0.07 mm. That comes out to 70 μm.
This is the same dot superimposed over the iPhone 4S.
The subpixels start to come into focus when we adjust the zoom.
At the microscopic level, we see a completely different subpixel structure, which means that Apple quietly slipped in a new design or is using a different hardware vendor to supply the panels for its 4S.