The Smartphone Digest: Displays

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The Smartphone Digest: Displays

This series of article revolves around Smartphone and their components in detail. Taking a careful glance at this series you can easily know all the important components that make up smartphones and what’s important about each of those components.

Smartphone Displays

The major component of any current smartphone is the display. The vital medium via which a user interacts with the smartphone is this. In order to know about the display, let us see what technology is implemented in a smartphone display.

Smartphone Display Evolution

Display Technology and how do these make a difference in Smartphones?

IPS LCD

This refers to In-Plane Switching Liquid Crystal Displays. In IPS LCD display the colors actually pass through filters and are displayed based on the Backlight. Hence LCD displays require backlight layer to produce light. Even the Black color is produced out of the Backlight. Hence in LCD displays the Black color contrast will be less. It would look like half black.

They offer better viewing angles and more accurate natural looking colors. The color gamut (The window where the possible colors are present). The gamut range of LCD displays is very close to sRGB Gamut(which is the standard for color range). The outdoor visibility is better in LCD displays. In direct sunlight the content is viewable to maximum extent.

LED/AMOLED

AMOLED refers to Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode. Unlike IPS LCD, OLED displays have diodes which actually emit light. Hence they don’t need to be backlit. This means AMOLED displays consume less power than LCD ones.

Another advantage of OLED displays is the bright and rich array of colors. The colors produced by LED displays seem more saturated than natural colors. This is because LED displays support a wider color gamut than the LCD displays. In OLED displays, blacks are very real and they are emitted and not produced out of backlit, unlike LCD panels. Also the viewing angles are better in OLED displays than LCD ones.

LG G3’s IPS LCD display Vs Super AMOLED on Galaxy Note 4
LG G3’s IPS LCD display Vs Super AMOLED on Galaxy Note 4

When you are buying a smartphone you can decide on which one matters most to you. If you are a person most probably working outdoors or if you prefer more natural colors, then IPS LCD displays will suit you. On the other hand, if you want colors to be more accurate and if you would be using your phone mostly indoors, OLED displays will make more sense.

Display Size

The next important factor to discuss about is the Size of the display in a smartphone.

To keep it simple, the size of the display determines the size of your smartphone; and the size of the phone impacts one’s usability. So deciding on the size is simply based on your preference.

Smartphone Screen Sizes

The ideal size for a smartphone display is 5 inches. The usability is best at this size as it is handy to use as well as not compromising on the view ability of the content.

Phones with display greater than 5.2 inches make single hand usage cumbersome and operating a smartphone with two hands always is not smart anymore!

Larger displays have their own advantages like multimedia consumption like Gaming, Movies and more. But the thing to be noted here is larger the display; a larger capacity battery is needed. Huge displays consume more power (sometimes most of the power!) and if you are going to prefer bigger displays, make sure the phone has a bigger battery.

Smartphone vendors these days come up with features like the one handed mode which shrinks the usable area of the display so that the phone can be handled in one hand. This is a pretty handy feature for phones with larger displays.

Large Smartphone Displays

Then there is the Multi-window mode which takes advantage of bigger displays. The idea is to allow usage of multiple applications in separate windows, simultaneously. The Samsung Note smartphones also provide an S Pen which allows user to write on the display to take notes. All of this makes bigger displays more productive.

Display Resolution

While talking about the display size, the very next jargon which comes to our mind is the display resolution. The ratio between the display size and the resolution is the one which decides the pixel density. Pixel density simply means how many pixels are present per inch of the display. More the number of pixels, more details will be shown. It also decides the size of the icon and other content on your screen. Higher the resolution, the larger canvas you will have for all of your content.

With latest smartphones offering a minimum of HD resolution, below are some of the resolutions to know about.

1.3840 Pixels * 2160 Pixels – 4K/UHD resolution E.g.: Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

2.2560 Pixels * 1440 Pixels – 2K/QHD resolution E.g.: Samsung GalaxyS7/HTC10

3.1920 Pixels * 1080 Pixels – Full HD display E.g.: One Plus 3/Galaxy C9 Pro

4.1280 Pixels * 720 Pixels – HD display E.g.: Asus Zenfone 2, Xperia XA

In case you don’t really get what these number are all about then let us explain. If your display is of resolution 1280 Pixels * 720 Pixels, it means your display can hold 1280 pixels horizontally and 720 pixels vertically. This is based on the orientation of your display. In this example, your display is made up of 921600 pixels (1280*720). All of your smartphone content will be handled within this range of pixels.

A Ultra HD/4K resolution display has a pixel density of more than 800 PPI (Pixel per Inch). It has the capability to display maximum no of pixels. But do you really need such a bigger resolution in your smartphone? Not really! In order to enjoy the fullest resolution all you need is the appropriate content which can match the resolution of the display. The real fact is we don’t have that many applications and content which can match it. As a result, normal applications may seem pixelated in a 4K resolution.

Smartphone Display Screen Resolution

Next is the Quad HD or 2K resolution. All the latest Flagships come out with this resolution. This is not as higher as 4K but still has a pixel density of around 530 PPI. This translates to a very good amount of details. Most of the applications are adapting to this resolution.

Then we have Full HD and HD resolutions. These are actually the sweet spot in Display Resolution. Full HD makes up to 440 PPI and HD makes up of 300+ PPI. They are not big but also don’t compromise on Pixel quality. They are very efficient when comparing to 2k or 4K resolutions and hence can operate with less power. That is the advantage of Full HD and HD resolutions.

The main thing here to note is if you are purchasing a smartphone with QHD or 4K resolution, there are more number of pixels which need to be powered (8294400 pixels in the case of a 4K display); hence you need bigger capacity battery.

The higher resolution of the phone takes a toll on performance front as well. Imagine a situation where the processor in your smartphone need to do all the hard work in order to light up and provide enough content to feed the display; then most of the processor’s potential is spent on the display itself. There is very less bandwidth available to perform other operations. Hence your device becomes slow. The screen resolution plays a big role in the power efficiency and performance of your smartphone.

Calibration

Smartphone manufacturers are now offering software calibration which can be used to tweak the characteristics of the display. The IPS LCD displays can be now calibrated to produce more vivid colors and improved contrast just like OLED displays. By this way you can enjoy some of the advantage of OLED display in LCD displays. The IPS LCD displays can be calibrated by the manufacturers themselves, so that the power management and performance of the devices can be improved to a certain extent. In such cases the colors look dull and washed out, but offer better battery life.

The below screens show the software calibration available in ASUS, Lenovo and Samsung.

Display Color Calibration

Some manufacturers are ASUS, Lenovo which provide Software calibration features. Samsung implements a technology called as Super AMOLED display. It is actually about saturating the pixels of OLED display which are already saturated, even more using concept of Sub pixels. Each pixel now packs more sub pixels in order to provide more colors and details.

Some manufacturers also provide Blue Light Filter feature which can reduce strain on your eyes during low light situations. This feature reduces the blue light output form the display and hence the whites seem to be yellowish.

Display Protection

The display is the costliest component in a smartphone. Hence it is important for the display to stay protected.

Recent day smartphones come with large and delicate displays. Delicate displays means there should be some sort of protection so that the display stays intact. Hence manufacturers include hardened glass protection like Gorilla Glass by Corning. The latest iteration of Gorilla Glass is 5.

Smartphone Display protection

While purchasing a smartphone, it is better to buy one with Gorilla Glass or some other hardened glass. This can prevent the display getting damaged from Sharp and Strong objects. But remember one thing. Gorilla glass can only prevent the display getting damaged by pointed objects. When you drop your phone by accident, Gorilla glass cannot protect the display from being breaking. If the phone dropped lands on its corners, then there is susceptible damage to the display even when the Gorilla Glass outside is not damaged. In this case it is better to use hard cases for your smartphone.

Miscellaneous Display Features

Always on Display

Always on Display feature is one which allows to show notifications and Time on the display even when phone is locked. The feature is being offered by various device manufacturers like Nokia – in the name of Glance Screen; Moto – Always On display and now Samsung is providing the same. This feature is handy where one can be aware of the notifications without actually touching the phone. At the same time this feature consumes some battery.

Secondary Display

Secondary Display is another nifty feature which is available in LG V10 smartphone. The Technology is different but the intention is same as the Always on Display. It displays all notifications from Applications which are set to be shown in the Secondary display. LG provided this display a separate backlit so that it consumes very less power.

Secondary smartphone display

Edge Screen

Samsung’s approach to the above feature was different. They made the display curved in the side and they called it Edge display. It displayed the notifications from various applications that were chosen to be displayed in the Edge panel. It was highly customizable using third party applications and the panel is interactive.

Galaxy Note Edge Display
Edge screen available in Samsung Galaxy Note Edge

These were the noteworthy features and facts about the display of the smartphones. Moving forward, will discuss about other components of the smartphones. In case you are curious on the next one, then let us know in the comments.

  1. oh such a wonderful exxplaination you have given about displays thanks for sharing it it gave a lots of knowledge to me

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