10 Types of Smartphone Displays, Touchscreens

By Updated   GadgetsGuest Posts

There are many different types of displays / touchscreens available across the range of smartphones and it is important that we know about them before buying one. Over last one year smartphones with large smartphone displays and touchscreens have really become popular. In this post we explain different types of displays and touchscreens and their pros and cons.

TFT LCD

TFT stands for Thin Film Transistor technology. TFT LCDs are the most common type of display units used across mobile phones. TFT LCD offer better image quality and higher resolutions compared to earlier generation LCD displays but their limitation lies in narrow viewing angles and poor visibility in direct light or sunlight.

Large TFT displays consume more power and hence are not battery friendly. But since these are cheaper to manufacture these are found on budget phones, feature phones and lower end smartphones.

IPS-LCD

IPS stands for In-Place Switching. If you compare TFT vs IPS, then IPS LCDs are superior to normal TFT LCD displays with wider viewing angles and lower power consumption which leads to a much improved battery life. IPS-LCDs are costlier than normal TFT LCD and hence are found only on higher end smartphones. A higher resolution (640 x 960 pixels) version of IPS LCD is used in Apple iPhone 4 and is called Retina Display because of its brilliant picture quality.

smartphone screens

Resistive Touchscreen LCD

Touchscreen LCD displays are of two types – Resistive and Capacitive. Resistive touchscreens contain two layer of conductive material with a very small gap between them which acts as a resistance. When the resistive touchscreen is touched with finger (or stylus) the two layers meet at the point of touch thus making a circuit at the point of touch. This information is recognized by the mobile’s processor / chip and passed on to the mobile’s OS there by triggering and event / action at the point of touch.

Resistive Touchscreens are not as responsive as capacitive touchscreens and often require a stylus to identify point of touch accurately. These are used only in lower end smartphones and feature touch phones.

Capacitive Touchsceen LCD

Capacitive touchscreen technology consists of a layer of glass coated with a transparent conductor (like indium tin oxide). When a capacitive touchscreen is touched by human body (finger), an interruption is created in the screens electrostatic field (which is measurable as a change in capacitance) which is detected by phone’s processor or chip and which in turn instructs phone’s operating system to trigger and event or action accordingly.

Capacitive touchsceens are much better and responsive to human touch when compared to resistive touchsceens and hence the user experience for touch is much better with capacitive touchscreens. Capacitive Touchsceens are used in most of the higher end smartphones.

OLED

OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode and is a newer technology for type of displays of mobiles and monitors. In OLED technology a layer of organic material (carbon based) is sandwiched between two conducting sheets (an anode and a cathode), which in turn are sandwiched between a glass top plate (seal) and a glass bottom plate (substrate). When electric pulse is applied the two conducting sheets, electro-luminescent light is produced directly from the organic material sandwiched between. Brightness and color can vary depending on the electric pulse.

OLEDs are much better compared to LCDs because of their exceptional color reproduction, blazing fast response times, wider viewing angles, higher brightness and extremely light weight designs.

AMOLED

AMOLED stands for Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode. AMOLED displays are a type of OLED displays for mobiles and are rapidly gaining popularity in top end smartphone segment. AMOLED screens have all the attributes of an OLED display like brilliant color reproduction, light weight, better battery life, higher brightness and sharpness and light weight designs.

AMOLED displays are now getting into main stream and most of the latest higher end smartphones like Nokia N8 are now coming with AMOLED displays. If you can shell out a little extra, our suggestion is to go with AMOLEDs over TFT LCDs.

Super AMOLED

Super AMOLED displays are an even advanced version of AMOLED displays developed by Samsung. Super AMOLED display is built with touch sensors on the display itself, as opposed to creating a separate touch sensitive layer (as in capacitive touchscreen). This makes it the thinnest display technology on the market.

Super AMOLED displays are also much more responsive than other AMOLED displays. Samsung’s recent top of the line smartphone Samsung Galaxy S I9000 comes with Super AMOLED.

Retina Display

Retina Display is a term used by Apple for its high resolution (640 x 960 pixels) IPS LCD (with backlit LED) used by them in iPhone4. They call it the Retina display because its pixels cannot be individually identified by the human eye, thus making the display super sharp and brilliant.

Haptic / Tactile touchscreen

Haptic technology has been used by Blackberry and Nokia for their touchscreen smartphones targeted towards enterprise market. This technology provides a tactile feedback on a touch action on the screen thus providing an immediate and unmistakable confirmation to the user. Haptic technology has been found to significantly improve user performance, accuracy and satisfaction while typing on a touchscreen.

Gorilla Glass

Gorilla Glass is a special alkali-aluminosilicate glass shield with exceptional damage resistance that helps protect mobile displays from scratches, drops, and bumps of everyday use. Many companies like Motorola, Samsung and Nokia are now using Gorilla Glass to make their mobile displays more durable and reliable. It is always better to go for a smartphone with Gorilla Glass for that added protection and peace of mind.

So next time someone asks you about their TFT vs IPS capacitive touchscreen, or ask you for advice about mobile display types, you are now more informed.

Guest author Sulakshan is a Co-Founder of MySmartPrice.com, the easiest way to get the best price for Mobiles and Books in India.

This is a guest article and represents opinions of the guest author

9 comments on “10 Types of Smartphone Displays, Touchscreens

  1. Swamykant says:

    Excellent. Which is the best for Computer Monitors ?

  2. Ryan says:

    Great post!

    I definitely enjoy the retina display on my iphone, not sure about the other ones, but the iphone’s display is amazing!

  3. Sean says:

    Interesting article, the Super AMOLED display on the Samsung galaxy s3 wins it for me, screen size also has major part to play…

  4. iSpyPrice.com says:

    Which other types of touchscreens will come in future ?

  5. Ryan says:

    Great post thanks for sharing it help me answer my doubts but still wondering what is the best Touchscreens for both IPS and Capacitive?

    I think IPS wins because of it’s “much improved battery life.” or Capacitive has too?

    Thanks,

  6. Nwosu Desmond says:

    How do one determine the best smartphone display before purchasing a smartphone? Can color analyzer be used for this purpose?

  7. jtvernier says:

    Just an insignificant point . For those of you who looked it up on Wikipedia, they show IPS as “In-plane switching” as opposed to the author’s “In-place switching”. Not sure where the author got his version; ‘In-place” seems more generic than “in-plane”. But pretty much the same connotation.

  8. rb says:

    Do phones such as apple use lcd and led screens at the same time?

  9. shreya says:

    Does Tablet screens also come of these type only or of different types? Now-a-days smartphones comes with display specifications mentioned but it’s missing in tablets.

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