AMOLED VS. IPS LCD Does Display Technology Matter?
Display technologies are advancing every day. We’ve talked in a previous article about how to choose your phone. Besides looking at the processing power, screen size and battery life, you should also know different display technologies that are available in the market. In this article, we talk about two of the most popular technologies available. Those technologies are AMOLED and IPS LCD.
In the old days, we used a CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) display for our PCs. CRT displays were big and ugly. They lacked the great quality we find in today’s displays. It was a must that they become replaced by a better technology called LCD (Liquid Crystal Display). LCDs provided better quality with thinner screens and became very popular for PC users. When smartphones and tablets became the dominant devices, the need for screens that suit this kind of devices appeared. We needed screens that provide great quality outdoors and can be viewed from different angles. This led to the rise of different display technologies.
IPS LCD (In-Plane Switching Liquid Crystal Display) was an improvement over traditional LCD. The major motivation for introducing IPS was that traditional LCD screens suffer from slow response times. This problem appeared obviously in applications that require fast screen response times such as games. Another big limitation of traditional LCD displays which depend on the TFT (thin-film transistor) is the viewing angle. With the wide popularity of smartphones, you need a screen which provides great displays in varying angles and outdoor conditions. Here comes IPS LCD to address all those limitations. Also, IPS LCD provides sharper images than its old counterpart. On the other side, this quality comes at a cost. IPS LCDs require strong backlights. That, in turns requires more energy and consumes more power. Also, the need for a stronger backlight increases the thickness of the screen eventually. Apple’s iPhone is the most popular smartphone, which has an IPS LCD screen.
AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode) is on the other hand an improvement over OLED. AMOLED technology relies on the concept of lighting up pixels individually on top of a TFT array which passes current through organic compounds. In AMOLED displays, blacks can be darker. That comes from the fact that specific portions of the screen can be turned off. That leads to more power efficiency and less power consumption. But, this also depends on the way you use the display. For example, in cases of full white (all pixels are lit all the time), that consumes lots of power. One major problem in AMOLED screen in color degradation, that’s pixels burn in over time. However, this is not a problem anymore thanks to new AMOLED implementations and improvements such as Super AMOLED. Samsung is one of the biggest AMOLED fans and introduced many different AMOLED implementations such as Super AMOLED in Samsung Galaxy SIII, HD Super AMOLED in Samsung Galaxy Note, HD Super AMOLED Plus in Samsung Galaxy S3 and Full HD Super AMOLED in Samsung Galaxy S4 and Samsung Galaxy Note 3.
AMOLED also provides better viewing angles than IPS LCD. Whites on IPS LCD are better than AMOLED while blacks are better on AMOLED. Manufacturers apply different standards, add improvements to technologies they use. Those different implementations greatly define screen quality. Each manufacturer is trying to overcome the limitations of the technology they are using. While there’s no absolute winner, it finally comes to the user to balance between the advantages and disadvantages of the technology he wants to use. Also, adapting your usage to fit the best performance of the screen should make you happy with your screen whatever technology it uses, so it’s very useful to know the features of each technology. However, it would be great to have a technology which fixes all problems, although that is not practically possible yet.