AMOLED is better than LCD?

This will come as no surprise to anyone reading my writings on AAS and AAWP, but AMOLED screens really are prettier and more colourful. And thinner (than LCD). Which is why nearly all high end Nokia and Microsoft smartphones over the last seven years have used AMOLED technology. However, they also have much lower life, have to be produced with pixels in a pentile matrix, and can over-do the colour saturation to the point where things don't look realistic anymore. Very much a 'pros v cons' arrangement then. There's a new pro-AMOLED video embedded below, from Samsung, which is worth watching, but I've also included links to some relevant old articles of my own...

Here's the video first - and note that I'm not decrying it - I'm an AMOLED fan - I'm just saying that you should take the colour and contrast comparisons with a small grain of salt:

Look at the video and you automatically assume that LCD is a very poor relation. However, from my own comparison article here, albeit from 2014:


AMOLED (e.g. Lumia 1020, 735) LCD (e.g. Lumia 1520, 830)
Pros
  • Uses less power when displaying a dark-themed screen
  • 'Blacker blacks' possible
  • Glance screen has far less 'background' glow at night
  • Display can be slightly thinner, since no backlight layer is needed
  • Can be made flexible (ok, not relevant for smartphones in their current form, but worth mentioning!)
  • Power drain doesn't vary wildly according to displayed content
  • More accurate colour balance (including 'whiter whites')
  • Higher brightnesses possible
  • A full RGB matrix is almost always used, giving crisper results for a given, nominal resolution
  • Screen 'burn in' is almost impossible
  • Brightness stays constant across many years (dimming would require a decade of regular use)
  • Tend to be cheaper to manufacture
  • Higher densities/resolutions possible
Cons
  • Uses dramatically more power when displaying a white-themed screen
  • At high resolutions, cost and longevity concerns means that a 'pentile' layout is often used, leading to slightly fuzzy text and a lower than nominal resolution
  • In some cases, users have seen 'burn in' of UI elements, due to natural degradation of the organic polymers in the AMOLED pixels
  • Brightness can reduce in time (several years)
  • Tend to be more expensive to manufacture than LCD
  • Limited in pixel density and resolution
  • Glance screen has noticeable 'all over' glow when seen in dead of night
  • Display has to be slightly thicker, due to the need for a backlight
  • Refresh rates can be slower, leading to flickering or tearing in screen elements

Admittedly both technologies have been improved in the intervening two years.  The Samsung Galaxy S7 AMOLED screens - and indeed the Microsoft Lumia 950 and 950 XL AMOLED screens - have drawn praise, but then so have the displays on the likes of the HTC 10 - which are LCD. However, the predominance of AMOLED in the Symbian and then Windows Phone world, plus rumours that Apple are going to adopt AMOLED for either the iPhone 7 or 7s, mean that the momentum behind AMOLED is more or less unstoppable now.

Which doesn't bother me, though I'd welcome your comments. My main concerns with AMOLED, from personal experience, are that the displays pale and degrade after a couple of years' use. Which won't bother enthusiasts and geeks, who change their phones more often than that, but it bothers me that the phones then don't have such a long life, i.e. passed down to friends and family.

Ah well. An interesting video from Samsung, anyway, even though they didn't really need to create this - that AMOLED has brighter, more saturated colours is a bit of a given!

Published by Steve Litchfield at 10:51 UTC, July 15th

Section: Flow
Categories: Link of Interest, Hardware
Platforms: General, General