Touch screen is the most important part of a smartphone, at least from the point of view of an average user. The quality of a display depends on a number of factors such as its size, resolution and technology employed. When you look for a new phone, especially if you are an inexperienced user, you may feel overwhelmed by mysterious abbreviations and numbers used to describe the screen of a smartphone. Let’s go over the most poplar types of displays one by one, so you will feel more comfortable choosing the one that’s best for you when the time comes.
Resistive vs capacitive touch screen
The most basic classification includes resistive and capacitive touch screens. Resistive dislay, as the name suggest, relies on resistance or in other words – the pressure you apply makes the screen react. Resistive screen is made of two layers separated by air pocket or tiny microdots. The outer layer is flexible and when you push it, it touches the inside layer which cause a voltage to pass and prompts the phone to respond. The biggest advantage of resistive touch screen is that it responds to virtually any object that touches it, from your finger, through a stylus to a regular pen. Such screens, however, tend to disappoint with their poor transparency and low responsiveness.
Resistive display are hardly ever used anymore and are widely replaced by capacitive touch screens. Capacitive screen makes use of the electrical properties of the human body. It is made of one hard layer, usually glass coated with conductive material, and responds to a change of electrical field caused by your touch. Such screens are highly responsive and accurate, however, they require a contact with bare skin in order to react. For this reason, with the exception of a few models, you can forget about operating your capacitive smartphone while wearing gloves.
Most popular types of displays
The vast majority, if not all, smartphones released nowadays come with capacitive displays, however, it doesn’t mean that all screens are the same. The method of input may be identical, but there are in fact several types of smartphone displays, each one offering different properties.
TFT (Thin Film Transistor) LCD
This is the most common type of display used in smartphones. TFT displays are characterized by a better image quality, higher resolution and higher responsiveness than older LCD screens. However, viewing angles are far from being perfect, and visibility in direct light or sunlight may also be an issue. TFT displays are considered power consuming, however, due to the fact that they are relatively cheap to manufacture, they are most often found on lower-end smartphones.
IPS (In-Place Switching) LCD
Compared to TFT displays, IPS screens offer wider viewing angles and are more battery-friendly. They are also more expensive to manufacture, thus are used in higher-end devices. A special type of super sharp and brilliant IPS screen with high resolution and backlit LED is used in Apple products under the name Retina display.
OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode)
This type of display uses carbon-based organic material placed between two conductive sheets which are encased by glass plates on the top and bottom. When the organic particles are charge with electric impulse from the user’s finger, they emit light. OLED displays offer wider viewing angles, better color reproduction, higher brightness and more lightweight design than LCD screens.
AMOLED (Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode)
These display use basically the same technology as OLED screens and are characterized by high brightness and sharpness, and excellent viewing angles. The main difference between these two types is that AMOLED displays consume significantly less power, thus contribute to longer battery life. AMOLED displays are used in the highest-end phones.
Super AMOLED Display
This is a more advanced type of AMOLED display developed by Samsung. Super AMOLED screens incorporate touch sensors directly into the display making it the thinnest display technology currently available on the market. Super AMOLED displays are also more responsive than regular AMOLED screens.
Haptic / Tactile Technology
This technology has been used in a few BlackBerry and Nokia phones designed with enterprise users in mind. By providing tactile feedback on a touch action on the screen, haptic technology appears to improve user performance and accuracy while typing.
Gorilla Glass for Extra Protection
Smartphones are fragile devices and the part that is the most susceptible to damage is the screen. In order to protect the display from the hardships of daily usage, many manufactures use Gorilla Glass which is special alkali-aluminosilicate glass shield with exceptional damage resistance.