There’s something of a spat among display enthusiasts, and not just the fans themselves: Samsung and LG have been tacitly one-upping each other over the screens in their smartphones for the last year. As videophiles are all too eager to point out, the PenTile pixel matrix that Samsung uses in most of its Super AMOLED screens is technically less sharp and dense than comparable LCD screens. In a discussion at CTIA in New Orleans, Samsung marketing manager (and regular SlashGear contributor) Philip Berne defended Samsung’s choices, noting that PenTile AMOLED screens last longer than standard counterparts.
Berne explains that the blue sub-pixels on AMOLED screens, like the displays in all of Samsung’s Galaxy S phones, burn out faster than their red or green counterparts. Because the PenTile matrix array uses half as many blue and red pixels as a full RGB matrix, the screens last longer than they would with the technically superior layout. With the current US wireless landscape stuck on two-year contracts (even longer for some markets, including Canada) Samsung says that reliability and longevity is one of its primary concerns. The company is also working on improving the technology to make standard RGB AMOLED layouts more reliable, and thus viable in more products. Berne admitted that PenTile displays are noticeable at lower resolutions, but said that on high-res phones like the Galaxy Note and Galaxy S III the difference isn’t noticeable.
Opponents of PenTile displays claim that the pixel-sharing layout results in noticeably lower fidelity, a claim that LG was quick to prop up when renaming its Optimus LTE to the “Optimus True HD LTE” to highlight its IPS LCD display. But the consensus here at SlashGear is that for high-end devices like the Galaxy S III with 720p screens, the difference between the two pixel layouts is hardly noticeable, and certainly shouldn’t be a deal-breaker on a new device. Naturally, the choice is yours, and we’d encourage you to try out phones side by side at a retailer before making a purchase decision.