Types of Smartphone Displays

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Types of Smartphone Displays

Smartphone displays are being given attention now, more than ever. With many buyers becoming specific about the display, the manufacturers are looking for different display options.

Did You Know?

The first smartphone, IBM Simon, had a 4.5-inch monochrome backlit LCD.

Smartphones have gained popularity in the recent past, and continuous developments are taking place to make your smartphone experience the best one. With displays becoming bigger by the day, it is necessary to impress the users with better display technologies. iPhone 5 has a four-inch screen that leaves a good first impression of the phone.

When we go in for buying a phone, the first thing we notice is the display clarity. The other features that the phones are gauged on are color gamut, brightness, viewing angles, etc. All these features depend on the display technique that is used in the phone. Let us find out a few of the popular display technologies used in smartphones.

Smartphone Displays

TFT Liquid Crystal Display

TFT LCD stands for thin-film transistor liquid-crystal display. This type of display is nothing but an LCD with TFT transistor technology that enhances the image quality. These displays have better viewing angles except for the narrow angles. The images seem to distort at narrow viewing angles. Also in broad daylight, the visibility is affected. These displays consume more power, and you need to charge your phone every once in a while.

USP: Low manufacturing cost, better image quality

Drawback: Consumes more power

Popular Phone: Sony Xperia M


Here, IPS stands for in-plane switching type of LCD. These types of displays are superior to the TFT ones in terms of image quality. They draw less power than TFT displays, thus increasing battery life. These displays are costlier to manufacture than TFT ones and are thus used in high-end smartphones.

USP: Good off-axis viewing angles, low power consumption

Drawback: Expensive

Popular Phone: BlackBerry Q5


AMOLED stands for active-matrix organic light-emitting diodes, which are a part of the display technology. These displays have diodes that emit light when subjected to electric current. This layer is placed between two electrodes. These materials that emit light are organic and hence the name. The technology has better viewing angles. As it doesn’t require any backlight or filters, it is very power efficient.

USP: Power efficient, thin profile

Drawback: Visibility affected in broad daylight

Popular Phone: Nokia Lumia 925

Retina Display

This term is synonymous with Apple’s displays and was made famous during the iPhone 4 launch. Retina display is nothing but an advanced IPS LCD. The image quality is enhanced in high resolution. The display is called so because the pixels cannot be differentiated by the human eye. The images are sharper due to better anti-aliasing filters.

USP: Sharp and better quality images

Drawback: Consumes more battery power

Popular Phone
: iPhone 5

Haptic/Tactile Display

The haptic display gives a tactile feedback by making use of the sense of touch. The feedback can be in the form of physical sensations, like force or vibrations. This feedback is available as an option in all smartphones but here, we are referring to the entire display having the tactile feedback. This gives the user a confirmation about his touch. These displays are mostly used in BlackBerry and Nokia smartphones. Due to this confirmation, user satisfaction and accuracy are increased.

USP: Confirmation of touch

Popular Phone: BlackBerry Storm

Touchscreen Technologies

The touchscreen displays that are provided in the smartphones are basically categorized into two types, namely capacitive and resistive. The type of technology used in making the display has a massive impact on the user experience. The touch experience is altogether different in these two technologies.

Resistive Touchscreen

This touchscreen is made of several layers. So when you touch the screen, the sensation is passed from one layer to the other. The entire chain is completed when the sensation reaches the last layer, and the phone knows exactly where you have touched. As there are layers to be passed, you need to put a slight pressure while you touch the screen. For this very reason, you can use a stylus, a gloved finger, or anything you wish to, to operate the phone. However, due to their limitations, these screens do not allow functions, like pinch-to-zoom. These screens are slow in response as compared to the capacitive ones.

Popular Phones: Nokia Asha 306, LG GT540 Optimus, HTC Tattoo, Sony Ericsson Satio, Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, LG Cookie, Samsung Tocco Lite, etc

Capacitive Touchscreen

This technology was developed almost ten years before the resistive one. The capacitive touchscreen cannot understand the touch of a stylus. This is because the capacitive screen has an electrode that senses the touch. As human finger is also an electrical conductor, the touch causes a change in the capacitance of the electrostatic field, and this changed capacitance location is sent for processing. This is how the phone knows where you have touched.

Popular Phones : BlackBerry Z10, Sony Xperia L, HTC Frist, Apple iPhone 3G & 3GS, HTC HD2, LG Crystal, Samsung Corby, Samsung Omnia HD, etc.

When you buy a phone, one of the decisive factors is the display. If you are the kind who will use media applications in the phone to the fullest, then you should go in for an AMOLED display, but if you use the phone to browse the net or read texts, LCD is the best option. Before you buy a phone, compare it with rival phones, and then make your decision.

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