How to choose the type of display: which screen is better for smartphone

Display Type

Scrolling through characteristics on sites or looking at a card in a storefront, you can find a variety of display type , ranging from the usual IPS and AMOLED , ending with PLS, LTPS, POLED. We are going to provide Brief idea so you can choose the type of display for your next device.

What is a Liquid Crystal Display ?

LCD is an abbreviation for Liquid Crystal Display (LCD). Such screens are used in smartphones, phones, TVs, tablets and many other places. This is due to their compactness. That allows you to embed the screen even in gadgets such as watches. In turn, LCD screens differ in manufacturing technology. The first LCD screens were monochrome. Then the colored ones appeared. 

Manufacturers are trying to improve LCD technology to make screens brighter, with richer colors, wider viewing angles and deeper blacks.

What are TFT screens ?

TFT (Thin Film Transistor) is a technology used to manufacture LCDs. TFT LCDs use “active matrix technology”. In fact, each pixel can have up to four transistors. The two most common types of TFT LCDs screen are IPS and TN displays. All of them are united by the principle of operation – the liquid crystal film is illuminated by a light source from below.

TFT-matrices compete with LED, OLED and AMOLED screens. Where the light source is the matrices themselves.

How TN screens work ?

TN LCDs (Twisted Nematic) are one of the simplest technologies and varieties of TFT that appeared back in the 1980s. And now it is practically not used in the production of screens for smartphones. The technology is based on the fact that liquid crystals in a TN matrix are rotated 90 ° to each other when electricity is applied.

TN matrices are known for their irregular viewing angles. And also not very saturated colors. Another problem with such matrices is the inability to achieve perfect blacks.

What are IPS screens ?

choose the type of display - IPS vs OLED

The first active matrix IPS TFT LCD developed by Hitachi in 1996. Such a matrix solved the problem of the disadvantages of TN TFT LCD displays. IPS stands for In-Plane Switching. And for a number of reasons, it is the most popular type of LCD panel not only in smartphones, but also in TVs and monitors. Firstly, viewing angles in such matrices reach 178 degrees! Secondly, the colors are more saturated than in TN. And black can be almost perfect.

IPS displays also have drawbacks. The response time of such screens is less than that of TN TFT. Plus the power consumption is also higher. But manufacturers are developing technology.

Varieties of IPS Display:

  • The PLS matrix was developed by the ubiquitous Samsung. It is analogous to IPS. And that’s pretty good. Rich colors, good viewing angles, high brightness – that’s all about the display.
  • Super-IPS (S-IPS) for fluent color shift and improved pixel refresh time.
  • Advanced Super-IPS (AS-IPS) for high throughput.
  • Enhanced IPS (E-IPS) for improved diagonal viewing angle and faster response time.
  • Horizontal IPS (H-IPS) improves contrast and more natural whites.
  • Professional IPS (P-IPS) for more accurate color depth.
At the moment, IPS screens are among the most popular. Used in smartphones, TVs, monitors and even smartwatches.

Comparison of TN matrix and IPS

TN matrices appeared in smartphones first, so they are the most primitive. The main advantage of this technology is its low cost. The cost price of a TN display is 50% lower than that of other technologies. Such matrices have number of disadvantages: small viewing angles (no more than 60 degrees. If more, the picture starts to distort), poor color rendering, low contrast. 

The logic of manufacturers to abandon this technology is clear there are lot of shortcomings, and they are all serious. However, there is one benefit: response time. In TN panels, the response time is only 1 ms, although in IPS screens, the response time is usually 5-8 ms. But this is just one plus that cannot be put in opposition to all the minuses. Indeed, even 5-8 ms is enough to display dynamic scenes and in 95% of cases the user will not notice the difference between the response time of 1 and 5 ms. In the photo below, the difference is clearly visible between TN matrix and IPS. Pay attention to the color distortion at an angle on the TN matrix.

What is the difference between MVA, ASV TFT, PVA screens?

Despite the fact that IPS is considered the best among TFT matrices, manufacturers have experimented a lot. Therefore, various intermediate and not the most popular technologies have appeared.

  • MVA TFT matrices are characterized by deep black color, viewing angles of about 160 degrees. MVA is a compromise between TN and IPS technologies
  • ASV TFT displays are made using Sharp’s ASVA technology. It is analogous to MVA technology. It is characterized by deep black color, viewing angles of about 160 degrees. ASV is a compromise between TN and IPS technologies.
  • PVA screens were developed by Samsung. They are characterized by deep blacks and viewing angles of about 160 degrees. PVA is a compromise between TN and IPS technologies. Rarely found in smartphones.

Amoled and SuperAmoled screens

Most often, SuperAMOLED matrices are used in Samsung smartphones. It is this company that owns this technology, and many other developers are trying to buy or borrow it usually.

The main feature of AMOLED Screen matrices is the depth of black. If you put an AMOLED Screen display and IPS display next to it, then the black color on the IPS will seem light compared to AMOLED. The very first such matrices had incredible color reproduction and could not boast of color depth. Often the so-called acidity or excessive brightness was present on the screen.

choose the type of display Amoled and SuperAmoled screens

But the developers at Samsung have fixed these flaws in SuperAMOLED screens. These have specific benefits:

  1. Low power consumption;
  2. The best picture compared to the same IPS matrices.

The most TOP flagships are equipped with AMOLED display and SuperAMOLED display matrices due to the best picture quality. The second place is occupied by IPS screens, although it is often impossible to distinguish between AMOLED display and IPS matrix by the quality of the picture. But in this case, it is important to compare subtypes, not technologies in general. Therefore, you need to be on the alert when choosing a phone: often advertising posters indicate technology, and not a specific subtype of the matrix, and technology does not play a key role in the final quality of the picture on the display. BUT! If TN + film technology is indicated, then in this case it is worth saying “no” to such a phone.

Types of touch screens

Devices equipped with touch screens (mobile phones, tablets, netbooks, even personal computers) are becoming more and more popular. But if you are buying a touch-sensitive device, you should be aware that there are different types of touch screens .

Different types of touch screens operate on different physical principles . There are two main types of touch screens – capacitive and resistive. There are other types, for example, screens on surface acoustic waves, infrared, optical, tensometric, induction (used in graphic tablets), etc. But the chance of encountering these types of screens in everyday life is quite small, so let’s talk about the two most common types of touchscreens.

Main application of resistive screens

  • Electronic drawing tablets
  • E-books
  • Payment terminals
  • Wide application in industry on CNC (Numerical Software) devices
  • Medical equipment

Given its characteristics, resistive touch control has tremendous applications for the control of various industrial equipment. Where the screen is designed to control the software of the machine (equipment in the enterprise, for example, a conveyor for assembling a car), if we consider resistive screens for viewing multimedia content, then for these gadgets there are other types of touch screens.

Infrared touch screen

This type of touchscreen display is no longer popular these days for a number of reasons. The principle of operation is also clear from the name. 

Along the perimeter, the screen is equipped with light emitters and an infrared receiver. When pressed, the finger simply blocks the infrared rays. And this is perceived as a signal. 

However, this technology has a couple of drawbacks that overshadowed its merits. Firstly, the accuracy of pressing on such displays was mediocre. Secondly, the dimensions of the device are quite large.

Projected capacitive view of touch screens

This type of screens is based on the measurement of a capacitor of capacitance, forming at the moment of contact, between a transparent electrode on the glass and the human body, which is the main dielectric. Considering that the electrodes are located on the inner side of the screen, this type of sensor is resistant to external mechanical damage (for example, even if you break glass, you can use it). In principle, there are no main restrictions on the use of this type of sensor. The Projected Capacitive Screen is sensitive even for gloved operation.

Projected capacitive view of touch screens.

Projected capacitive screens have increased sensitivity and are capable of recognizing several clicks at the same time, for example, scaling a picture (this function is called multitouch). The main feature of such a screen is high transparency, resistance to mechanical damage or dirt, and durability.

The main disadvantage of this type of screens is the excessively increased accuracy and complexity of building an additional electronic module for processing coordination information.

The main application of the projection-capacitive type of screens

  • Modern tablets, phones, laptops
  • Street stalls
  • Payment terminals, ATMs


Unlike the type of matrix, this indicator is much more critical for the perception of the picture. At the same time, it is much easier to figure it out here. For example, you can see that the screen resolution of the smartphone you are interested in looks like this: 1080 × 1920. The first number indicates the number of pixels located horizontally, while the second indicates the number of pixels located vertically. All permissions other than the number format are also abbreviated. The most common ones you probably saw: for example, the same 1080 × 1920 is Full HD, 1440 × 2560 is QHD (or 2K), and 2160 × 3840 is Ultra HD (or 4K), and so on.

The more pixels there are on the screen, the more information fits on it and the sharper the image looks. But there is a nuance. It is one thing to place 1080 pixels horizontally and 1920 vertically, for example, on a 27-inch computer monitor, and quite another thing on a relatively small 6.5-inch smartphone display. The resolution is the same, but in the first case we will get huge pixels, each of which you will see with the naked eye. Hence the “graininess” of the picture, which is not pleasing to the eye.

Therefore, instead of the resolution, it is more correct to pay attention to such an indicator as the pixel density per inch. Because it takes into account not only the screen resolution, but also its size. See the 300 ppi value? This means that 300 pixels fit on one inch. Another question – is this a lot, is it not enough or is it enough? The question is somewhat anatomical.

It is believed that a healthy human eye is physically unable to discern the nuances of a screen with a resolution of more than 350 ppi. That is, that 350, that 1350 ppi – for you, both displays will be equally clear, without the ability to distinguish between individual pixels. For example: in the same screen of a 27-inch monitor with a Full HD resolution, the ppi will be 105, and in a 6.5-inch display – 340 indistinguishable.

Today, marketers are trying to work in teams with engineers. This is how displays with 500, 600 and even 800 ppi appear in smartphones! All this is of no benefit to humans. Moreover, such displays are characterized by increased power consumption.

iPhone X is Apple's first OLED smartphone. Screen resolution - as much as 458 ppi

Most likely, you will be completely happy with a smartphone with a 350 ppi screen. For overly impressionable people who need a special “anti-pixel guarantee”, you can recommend something around 400 ppi. Anything above should at least not be considered as a determining factor when buying: a screen with 600 ppi will not be clearer than a display with 400 ppi. That is why many flagship smartphones are set to lower resolutions by default, although the ad is always focused on ultra-high resolution. The user won’t even notice the difference.

In the middle is a Sony smartphone with a record high pixel density - 807 ppi! To the left of it is a screen with 300 ppi, to the right - with 424 ppi. At the same time, none of the three matrices can be called super-quality.

Thus, in relation to displays, it is not so much the resolution that is important as the ppi value – the number of pixels placed on one inch of the screen area. However, in this case, the formula “the more, the better” works only up to a certain point. More precisely, up to 300-400 ppi. Everything above is marketing, absolutely unnecessary in everyday life.

Update frequency

Until recently, most smartphones were content with a screen refresh rate of 60 Hz. Here, too, everything is simple: it only means that within a second the image on the display is redrawn 60 times. However, after desktop monitors, this figure began to grow in smartphones.

First, there were models with a screen refresh rate of 90 Hz, and recently the lineup with 120 Hz has been expanding. What does this give in reality? First of all – smoother animation of various effects. The text in the browser scrolls smoothly, the menus move smoothly. In general, the eyes become more pleasant. But again, not without nuances.

Firstly, the high refresh rate of the screen will not show itself in all games – in most of them you will not notice the difference compared to 60 Hz. Secondly, the increased frequency drains the phone’s battery noticeably more actively – during our Galaxy S20 Ultra test, the battery drained 15-20% faster. Thirdly, the perception of “float” strongly depends on the individual characteristics of a particular person. In any case, you will notice it, but someone will be delighted with super-smooth page scrolling, and someone will chuckle and will not understand what the buzz is about.

In general, a high refresh rate is cool. But not for everyone and not so that wow! It is best to look at the high-gigahertz screen yourself to determine how important this parameter will be for you.

Multi-touch touchscreen function

Everyone's favorite in use and in use function Multi-touch, the touch screen itself is not (THIS IS A FUNCTION, OPTION, SOFTWARE CODE).

Multitouch is software or technology of multiple pressing and built on the projection-capacitive principle with the ability to recognize several points of touch coordinates and control them. The Multi-Touch function is a great addition to ultra-responsive touchscreens.

choose the type of display

Multi-touch touch screen function.

For instance :

  • By sliding and spreading two fingers at the same time that are in contact with the screen, thereby allowing you to zoom in and out of the image
  • Browser scrolling with two touch points
  • The ability to rotate the image, etc.….


It is impossible to completely abandon the keyboard, it is much more convenient to type text using a regular keyboard. But equipment with a touch screen is primarily mobile and convenient when controlling and choosing various functions, freeing the user from using simple commands using additional devices.

Increased flexibility, high curvature

Once upon a time, Samsung released the first mass-produced smartphone with a curved display on the sides. Such a trick, by the way, is possible only with OLED matrices - plus they are in the piggy bank.

A few years ago, it seemed that this was a breakthrough and before us the future of smartphones. The model with curved ends looks stylish, unusual, futuristic, and in general. However, a little time passed, and the enthusiasm subsided. Manufacturers have not figured out what to do with these curved edges, what useful functionality to screw onto them. The effect of novelty faded away. Moreover, the distortion of the picture, the refraction of light on the bends and erroneous pressing also did not add to the convenience in everyday use.

choose the type of display

Not surprisingly, the trendsetter – Samsung – is slowly straightening its curves – from year to year, the bends of the screens of the company’s flagship smartphones are becoming less noticeable.

What you need to remember: smartphones with "endless" displays or screens - "waterfalls" can look impressive, but in everyday life such devices are still less convenient than their counterparts with classic smooth matrices.

Curvature has been replaced by a new trend – fold-out displays. So far, they are more or less widely offered by Samsung, Huawei and Motorola. Perhaps this is the future. Or maybe the same experiment as curved phones. Only time will sum up the result. Now we can say that such devices are fashionable in nature and are extremely expensive.

choose the type of display

The situation with smartphone displays today is great. Gone are the days when you had to calculate the tilt angle at which the colors were inverted. You don’t have to put up with resistive panels and get used to the lack of multitouch. Today, as a rule, all displays, even in the most budgetary models, have the minimum set of characteristics necessary for a pleasant perception.

Touchscreen and its breakdowns

As already mentioned, the capacitive touchscreen, which is used in phones and smartphones, is quite reliable. Therefore, with proper operation, it will last as long as needed. But, due to the fact that it is built on the basis of glass panel, it is quite vulnerable to impacts. Even a small blow can cause crack, which will damage the touchscreen.

In such a situation, only replacing the touchscreen will help. In old phone models, this part could be changed leaving the old screen. This made it possible to make the replacement quite simple and inexpensive. But, now the touchscreen is most often part of the screen itself and it is impossible to replace it separately, which significantly increases the cost of repairs of device.

To avoid these costs, you can protect your phone in advance. To do this, you need to stick a protective glass over the touchscreen. This glass does not impacts the performance of the touch panel in any way, but it can save it if the device is dropped.

Which touchscreen phone is better to buy by type of screen

The most essential detail in a touchscreen mobile phone is the display. It is with him that the user will have to constantly interact. There are these types of phone screens:

Display typeAdvantagesFlaws
Resistivethe possibility of impact on the screen with any object of sufficient hardness (suitable – stylus, nails, pencils, etc.)good level of sensitivitysimplicity of designcomparative cheapness of the phonelow light transmittancepoor support for multiple taps (multi-touch mode) and often mistaken recognition of sliding gestures (for example, swiping)fragility (although the life of the phone is still less than that of the display)
Capacitivegood light transmittanceclarity and brightness of the imagesignificant touch resourcefast response even to light touchdisplay sensitivity only to finger pressure or the impact of a conductive stylushigh price

Although resistive models also have fans, a capacitive screen is considered a better option. It, in turn, is divided into surface-and projection-capacitive. In the latter case, all performance indicators are improved, in particular – multitouch is realized as fully as possible and it becomes possible to influence the display with a gloved hand.

Why are there so many varieties of displays?

The first thing to know before diving into the topic of displays is why there are so many of them. Scrolling through characteristics on sites or looking at a card in a storefront, you can find a variety of matrix names, ranging from the usual IPS and AMOLED , ending with PLS, LTPS, POLED and even marketing Retina and others like them. But this does not mean that they are all radically different from each other, no.

The fact is that manufacturers are constantly inventing something and improving their screens. The changes are not always significant, but the laws of the market oblige the whole thing to be patented, come up with a new name and promote it under the guise of “It's revolution Johnny”.

In fact, everything is simpler. Smartphone screens can be divided into just two types: OLED and LCD . The first one is now the most popular. If I walk around the store and randomly point my finger at the screens, then about 70% of the time I’ll get on the LCD. This includes PLS, LTPS and, of course, everyone’s favorite IPS.

Different Type Of Smartphone Displays In Market

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