Types of Display Technologies Used in Smartphones

Rachel Smith, Applied Technology Review | Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Rachel Smith, Applied Technology Review

Each technology has its benefits and disadvantages, but OLED screens have gained prominence in recent years due to the adoption of the component in high-end flagship smartphones. 

FREMONT, CA: In the past few years, smartphone displays have advanced far more acronyms than ever before, with each one highlighting a unique type of technology. The list of display technologies continues to grow with AMOLED, LCD, LED, IPS, TFT, PLS, LTPS, LTPO, and many more.

The various available technologies were already confusing enough. Component and smartphone manufacturers are adopting more gilded names such as "Super Retina XDR" and "Dynamic AMOLED," which increases the capability for consumer confusion.

There are primarily two types of smartphone display technologies on the market: LCD and OLED. Each has numerous variations and generations, likely to give rise to more acronyms related to televisions and various ranges like LED, QLED, and miniLED. All of them are variants of LCD technology.

What is an LCD?

LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display, and the title relates to a wide range of liquid crystals illuminated by a backlight. Their ubiquity and low cost make them a standard option for smartphones and several other devices.

LCDs also execute well in direct sunlight because the whole display is illuminated from behind, but they may have less accurate color representation than displays that do not need a backlight.

TFT and IPS displays are available on smartphones. TFT is an abbreviation for Thin Film Transistor, a more upgraded version of LCD that employs an active matrix (like the AM in AMOLED). Every pixel in an active matrix is individually connected to a transistor and a capacitor.

AMOLED displays

AMOLED is an acronym that refers to Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode. While this may appear to be complicated, but it is not. The active matrix has already been seen in TFT LCD technology, and OLED is simply another phrase for another thin-film display technology.

OLED is an organic material that reflects light when a current passes through it, as the title suggests. Compared to backlit LCD panels, OLED displays are 'always off' unless the individual pixels are electrified.

It implies that when black or darker colors are displayed on-screen, OLED displays have purer blacks and less energy. Lighter-colored themes on AMOLED screens consume significantly more power than the same theme on an LCD. OLED screens are also more costly to manufacture than LCD screens.

As the black pixels in an OLED display are 'off,' the contrast ratios are higher than LCD screens. AMOLED screens can be thinner than LCDs due to the absence of a backlit layer and more flexible. 

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