The quality of the smartphone's display is one of the main characteristics you should take into consideration when you decide to buy an Android smartphone or tablet, because it represents the mean that helps you interact with devices like these.

Still, there are a lot of users that are confused when looking at the technical specifications of an Android smartphone's display. While the size and the resolution are easy to compare between the models already available on the market, the technology used for the manufacturing of the touch panels is different from model to model, including the line-up of the same smartphone maker.

LCD, IPS, AMOLED, Super AMOLED or Retina Display, the latter one used by Apple for their iPhone and iPad devices, are only a few of the most used technologies for screen panels, but behind them lays different production methods or just marketing.

In this article I will not concentrate on the different ways these displays work, but on the practical aspects, like answering questions like which type of display is better when it comes to natural colors and which one to choose when you want "deeper black."

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)

Most of you probably heard about the LCD technology when it replaced the CRT monitors, but it is also used for the displays that are fitted on smartphones, tablets, or other electronic devices. The LCD technology is the one that lays behind other types of LCD displays like TFT, TN, IPS, S-IPS, or Super LCD.

TFT LCD (Thin Film Transistor Liquid Crystal Display) - the first improved version of the LCD technology was TFT LCD, whose main purpose was to provide better contrast by better managing the pixels. In the meantime, the display manufactures have developed several other types of screens derived from TFT, with TN and IPS among them.

TN (Twisted Nematic) - The TN displays are the cheapest on the market, therefore you will mostly find them fitted on numerous low-end Android smartphones and tablets. Unfortunately, the TN displays also have a lot of drawbacks, most common of them being the poor viewing angles and poor color reproduction.

IPS (In-Plane Switching) - The IPS displays are one of the most appreciated on the market because of their accurate color reproduction and wide viewing angles. The main drawback is that the IPS displays are not capable of accurately reproducing black, which looks rather like a dark shade of gray.

Super PLS (Super Plane-to-Line Switching) - Developed by Samsung as an IPS alternative, the Super PLS displays are providing 10% brightness and better viewing angles compared to the IPS displays.

Super LCD - is another improved version of the classic LCD displays. The Super LCD panels are highly appreciated for their low power consumption and accurate color reproduction. Meanwhile the Super LCD2 and Super LCD3 displays have hit the market.

Retina Display - Even though it is used by Apple it's worth talking about it. The Retina Display is not a different type of LCD panel, but just a marketing term introduced by the Cupertino-based company for products like iPhone and iPad. Apple says that their Retina Displays provides a pixel density that is even bigger than what the human eye can perceive form a typical distance. Because the typical usage distance depends on the type of the gadget (smartphone, tablet, or laptop) there is no standard minimal resolution for a display to be called Retina. For example, the iPhone 5 has a pixel density of 326 ppi, and iPad has 264 ppi. iPhone and iPad are actually using IPS displays.

OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode)

The other major technology used for manufacturing various device displays is the OLED, which has a completely different functioning system. For the smartphones and tablets more OLED technologies have been developed:

AMOLED (Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode) is an OLED-based technology used for manufacturing display which is known for its contrast that is unrivaled by the displays based on LCD technology. The main difference is the "deep black" reproduced by the AMOLED displays, because this type of panel is capable of fully shunting down pixels instead of dimming them like the LCD displays do. The biggest problem of the AMOLED displays is that they are performing poorly under direct sunlight.

Super AMOLED is Samsung's own version of AMOLED displays. The technology is basically the same, but the display panel integrates a digitiser and reflects less sunlight than in the standard version.

Super AMOLED Plus - Also developed by Samsung, the Super AMOLED plus displays borrows some of the architecture used for the LCD displays which results in higher brightness and lower power consumption. Even so, it's not all fun and games, as the Super AMOLED Plus displays have shorter life and higher production costs.

Super AMOLED Advanced - The folks at Motorola also developed their proprietary display technology based on AMOLED, which comes with even higher brightness and resolutions than the Super AMOLED panels.


When it comes to comparing the LCD and (AM)OLED technologies, we can sum up by saying that the LCD display panels come with more natural colors, higher brightness, and better outdoors visibility than the OLED screens. On the other hand, the (AM)OLED technology is unrivaled when it comes to reproducing "deep black" and almost 180 degree viewing angles. The AMOLED displays are also more energy efficient, but for all these you will have to pay the price of oversaturated colors.

Choosing an Android smartphone or tablet that has a display that is in concordance with your needs is not an easy task, but we hope that the information above will help you make a decision. What display is your current smartphone or tablet using?

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