Smartphone Specs 101: Display
The specifications or specs are some of the first pieces of information that are readily available to a consumer when scouting for a smartphone. Just roam around gadget stores and salespeople will start bombarding you with specs after introducing the name of a product. However, not everyone is techy enough to process all of that information. To help address that, we’re going to release a series of guides to help non-techy consumers make sense of a smartphone’s specifications. First up is the display.
There are plenty of factors that come into play when it comes to a smartphone’s display, but we will focus on the three most common topics: screen size, resolution, and type.
Most smartphones nowadays have screen sizes ranging from 5 inches to 6 inches. In this category, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. If you’re just a regular user and are intending to use the phone for basic tasks like social media browsing and photography, 5.0- to 5.5-inch screens are more than enough. In addition, they usually have smaller chassis’, which makes them easier to hold.
Note: The size reference is the diagonal length of the display.
For those who are into multimedia consumption and gaming, larger displays offer a better viewing experience, and this is where phablets excel. These phones sport screens above 6 inches, and are good for binge-watching on your favorite TV series or playing mobile games. On the downside, they’re rather bulky and challenging to handle with one hand.
The resolution determines the ability of the device to show an image clearly, with a lot of detail. The higher the resolution, the better. Screen resolutions normally range from HD (1280 x 720), Full HD or FHD (1920 x 1080) to Quad HD or QHD (2560 x 1440) and a couple with UHD or 4K (3840 x 2160). You will also need to factor the screen size to determine pixel density. That number is stated as the PPI in the specs sheet.
For example, a 5-inch screen with an HD resolution will yield a pixel density of around 294 PPI (decent quality), but goes to 441ppi for an FHD resolution (better quality).
If the smartphone has a small display, let’s say 5-inches, then HD resolution is good enough. However, if you have a larger screen size, it’s high time that you look for higher pixel density. As an example, a 6-inch screen with HD resolution will only yield 245 PPI, while an FHD resolution will give you 367 PPI.
Simply put, the higher the PPI, the clearer the image. However, since not everyone can compute for the pixel density on the spot, our advise is to go for at least Full HD resolution for screen sizes 5.5-inches and above if you want a good viewing experience.
Take note that higher resolutions have drawbacks — more pixels means more power consumed.
There are many types of smartphone displays but the most commonly used ones are IPS LCD and AMOLED, both with their own advantages and disadvantages. Without going into technicalities, IPS LCD produces more natural colors and brighter whites. AMOLED, on the other hand, have more vibrant colors especially when it comes to reds, greens, and blues, and have deeper blacks (though the whites aren’t as bright) compared to IPS LCD. Which one is better? Well, it boils down to personal preference based on the pros mentioned above.
If you’re interested to learn more about smartphone displays, you can read our Smartphone Display Tech Explained article here.
Also, note that AMOLED displays are more power-efficient but IPS has better outdoor visibility and viewing angles.
Extra: Glass Protection
Glass protection is also an important factor to consider when looking at smartphone displays, but not always a priority. Some examples of special glass we see on smartphones are Corning Gorilla Glass and Asahi Dragontrail. These are tough glasses that can resist scratches, drops, and bumps. However, not all smartphones have these glasses and often come with standard scratch-resistant glass as a cost consideration. The good news is, you can remedy it by purchasing a plastic or tempered glass screen protector.
What to ask?
When hunting for a smartphone, here are some important questions to ask when it comes to the display:
* What is the screen size?
* What is the resolution? HD, FHD, QHD
* What is the display type? IPS or AMOLED
* What glass protection does it have?
The answers to these questions above can help you determine if that smartphone’s display is the right one for you.