Not all smartphone displays are created equally, owing to things like resolution and other factors. But one of the more notable differentiators is the type of screen technology used. There are two main screen technologies in use today, in the form of LCD and AMOLED, but what are the differences, advantages and downsides to them? Have a look at our basic primer below. Of course, there are other differences in tow, such as pentile versus IPS tech, but we’re sticking to the basics here.
Let’s start with LCD (liquid crystal display)… It’s generally cheaper than AMOLED technology, but that doesn’t mean it’s naff by any measure.
In fact, LCD screens are used on the likes of the iPhone range, HTC smartphones, LG’s flagships, most Xiaomi devices and the vast majority of Huawei phones.
The biggest advantage is that LCD screens use the same amount of power, regardless of content and colours displayed. Another advantage is that they tend to offer brighter screens in direct sunlight. Finally, these screens don’t suffer from burn-in to the same extent as AMOLED, so those wanting to use their phone for years shouldn’t have a problem here.
Blacks don’t look as black as AMOLED screens. Additionally, LCD screens can’t turn off selected areas of the screen to save more power — so things like Always-On displays generally don’t save power compared to the same implementation on AMOLED.
The Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode (AMOLED) technology tends to be the display of choice for enthusiasts, offering a variety of cool upsides. But it suffers from disadvantages too.
Either way, you’ll find AMOLED screens in devices from Samsung, Lenovo, Nexus/Pixel, the ZTE Axon 7 and the Xiaomi Mi Note range, to name a few.
These screens display deeper blacks due to their ability to turn off individual pixels. This ability also leads to power-saving when displaying black colours, so using a dark wallpaper will actually yield a longer battery life because fewer pixels are turned on.
Screen burn-in is pretty much inevitable on these screens, so if you use WhatsApp a lot, expect the icons to ever-so-faintly remain on the screen after a couple of years, max. You’ll want to steer clear of white backgrounds and bright colours though, as this leads to a big increase in power consumption.