1080p smartphone displays offer no visual difference over 720p

Oct 19, 2012
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1080p smartphone displays offer no visual difference over 720p

As smartphone screens get bigger, so do the resolutions. We're already seeing "phablets" like Samsung's new Galaxy Note II with a huge 5.5-inch display, and HTC's recently-announced J Butterfly has a 5-inch display with a 1080p resolution. However, higher resolutions don't always mean a clearer image. Clarity on a smartphone display can only get so good before the human eye doesn't notice anything better.

Dr. Raymond Soneira, president and CEO of DisplayMate, a company that produces calibration software for various displays, says that most people won’t be able to notice the difference between a smartphone with a 720p display and one with 1080p. This is simply because photos and videos are spread over multiple pixels anyway, so they would still look a little blurred, in a way, no matter how high the resolution is.

Dr. Soneira says that the only way you would be able to tell a slight difference is if you had perfect 20/20 vision or have the screen up close to your eyes, and even then it's still slightly hard to tell the difference. But obviously, most users hold their phones at least a foot or so away from their faces, which at that point, there's no way users could tell the difference between clarity, and the human eye usually can't process anything more than 229ppi in normal circumstances, which means even the iPhone 5's 326ppi resolution is a bit overkill.

However, Dr. Soneira does mention one advantage of a 1080p smartphone display that would have greater impact over a 720p screen, and that is more room for various user interface elements, especially for viewing websites on a mobile browser. More text would show up on the screen at once, and higher-resolution images show in full on a 1080p screen.

[via Ars Technica]


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