With so many different screen types available nowadays, sometimes it’s hard to keep up and know the differences between them, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each type. In this article we explain what all those acronyms mean and what each type of screen has to offer.
LCD screens: TFT and IPS, what’s the difference?
LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) screens are the most common type of screens available in mid-price smartphones thanks to their low production cost. Like the name suggests, LCD screens are made of liquid crystals illuminated by a backlight, which helps them perform quite well when exposed to direct sunlight. LCDs are available in two different sub-genres: TFT and IPS.
TFT (Thin-Film Transistor) are one of the oldest types of LCD screens available – a technology where each pixel is attached to a transistor and capacitor. Their main advantages are the low production costs, which make them a common choice for budget phones, as well as good contrast. Their main disadvantages are higher energy demand and lower color reproduction when compared to other screens.
IPS (In-Plane Switching) screens are an evolution of the TFT technology, with two transistors for each pixel and a stronger backlight, which makes IPS screens better at color reproduction and also improve the viewing angles. However, they spend more energy than other types of screens.
LED screens: OLED, AMOLED and Super AMOLED
LED (Light-Emitting Diode) screens are becoming more and more the choice of most manufacturers. Instead of depending on a backlight, the screen diodes are only “on” when the screen is activated, which lowers the power consumption, as well as providing a better contrast, especially in black screens. There are several different types of LED screens, and their acronyms reflect those differences:
OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) screens are made of electroluminescent material, which produces its own light and therefore does not require a backlight. Besides the lower power consumption when compared to LCDs, OLED screens also have a better contrast. However, they don’t perform as well as LCDs in direct sunlight and might be subject to some diode degradation.
AMOLED (Active Matrix, Organic Light-Emitting Diodes) screens differ from OLED as they have a back panel (like TFT screens) working as a switch, which improves the low battery consumption and contrast results of the OLED screens, but also struggle with direct sunlight, as well as the possibility of screen burn when displaying brighter colors for long periods of time.
Super AMOLED is another variation of LED screens, introduced by Samsung in an effort to improve the sunlight exposure issues as well as requiring even less power than AMOLED screens. This is accomplished by integrating the touch response into the display itself without adding extra layers, which makes Super AMOLED screens thinner and the best choice for the flexible screen technologies that we may witness in the near future. The only disadvantages one could take in consideration would be screen burn-in and the higher production costs, but Super AMOLED screens are one of the best options currently available on the market.