Super Amoled vs. Super LCD

21 Feb

Much attention has been placed on mobile phone display ever since Steve Jobs flaunted iphone 4 proprietary Retina LCD; rightly so since phone display is what you see and what you touch.  Samsung‘s Super Amoled has been held by Android camp as the answer to Retina; nevertheless, HTC decided to switch to Super LCD due to supply shortage.  Since then Super LCD has an “image” problem as a replacement, Google’s recent decision to ship Nexus S to Russia with Super LCD instead of Super Amoled doesn’t help Sony shake off the stigma.

Most consumers should be quite familiar with LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) but many are still scratching their heads when it comes to Amoled (Active-matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode).  To generate colors and images, LCD uses backlight and thin film transistors (TFT) made out of liquid crystals, whereas OLED uses organic compounds that emit light in response to electric current without backlight.

Although the pros and cons of both technologies are becoming less significant , they are still quite noticeable.  LCD is the most used technology but OLED will likely dominate mobile display soon.  On paper, OLED is lighter, higher in contrast ratio, more readable under sun, better viewing angle and more energy efficient; but as of now being lighter is the only indisputable fact.


LCD is known for its inability to produce true black because of liquid crystal’s inability to block all the backlight; OLED on the other hand can simply turn off an area of pixels to generate deep black.  Unfortunately the contrast ratio is higher as it is over saturated.  Galaxy S and Nexus S wow many people because the visual does stand out from other phones.  The problem is other images on Super Amoled will look somewhat computer generated as well.

More Readable

Super Amoled and Super LCD are definitely more readable under the sun than Amoled.  The issue of viewing angle is mainly due to the air between layer and there is significant improvement in Super Amoled as in Super LCD.  OLED has shorter lifespan and is more prone to damage by prolong UV light exposure.  Blue diodes in OLED are less efficient and degrade much faster than other colors.  They have been enlarged to achieve better balance, causing the blue tint on all Super Amoled display.  While the viewing angle is greater with Super Amoled , the blue tint also intensify viewing at an angle.  Unlike televisions, mobile devices are designed for single user and viewing angle is easily adjustable; trading white with blue tint for slightly better viewing ankle may not be worth it for some.

Power Consumption

General perception is that OLED is more energy efficient than LCD, but it is only partially true.  OLED consume almost no power when producing true black since it simply turns off the pixels, but it consumes twist as much power when producing white.  To achieve better battery life, mobile device users should select black wall papers and use white on black when reading text.  These strategies may significantly extend battery life compare to LCD, of which power consumption remains constant regardless of color.  This advantage is limited since most apps and websites use light background colors.

The most important point is Super LCD produces more realistic image with higher color accuracy.   There is no doubt OLED is the display of the future with more potential usage and possible lower cost, but at the moment it is premature to proclaim supreme over Super LCD.

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