IPS LCD vs AMOLED – Good to Know

It is a constant discussion. AMOLED displays feature striking colors, deep blacks and stunning contrast ratios. IPS LCD displays have softer colors (although some say they are more accurate), better off-axis viewing angles, and generally a brighter overall image. Which screen is better after this is installed? Samsung extensively uses AMOLED displays and pioneered their implementation in smartphones. The LCD screen has been around for a while, but has the technology finally reached its full potential? Will the iPhone after LCD switch to “superior” AMOLED technology?

On a technical level, what separates these two dominant display technologies? Well, let’s start with the basics. Both screens are made up of pixels. A pixel consists of 3 parts called subpixels. Three segments are red, green, and blue (primary colors for display technology). To create a specific color, each pixel displays the color on your screen by letting a certain amount of light pass through each pixel at different intensities.

Where you start to see differences arise is in how light is produced on each screen. In LCD displays, the light is generated from a “backlight”. A set of thin films, transparent mirrors, and a set of white LED lights that spread and emit light behind the screen. On some low-quality LCD screens, you may see bright spots in the center or around the screen. This is due to the uneven light distribution. The downside to using backlighting is that black is never true black because no matter what, the light must pass through so you never have a screen as dark as an AMOLED display. It is comparable to being able to slow a car down to 2 mph instead of stopping completely.

In AMOLED displays, each pixel is its own light source, which means there is no need for a backlight. This ensures that the display assembly is thinner and has a more consistent illumination across the entire screen. Also, since each pixel is an OLED (organic light-emitting diode) or separate light, displaying black means that it turns off the pixels and does not need to produce color. So in Galaxy S7, the notification lock screen with white text on black background consumes almost no power as 90% of the screen is off.

At the risk of getting too technical, we’ll wrap it up with a list of the pros and cons of each here. LCD and AMOLED displays are great technologies that continue to push the standards for mobile displays. Considering that the AMOLED display we know in smartphones is only a few years old, it is exciting to see what innovations we can expect in the future.

Pros and cons of IPS LCD

Pros

  • Bright targets: LED backlight pushes too much light into pixels for easy reading in bright light
  • Accurate and True Colors – This may vary from one to another, but as a general rule LCD displays have colors that reflect the colors of real-world objects more accurately than the viewfinder.
  • Reliable: LCD technology has been around for a while and the technology is under development.
  • Perfect Viewing Angles – Most high-quality phone LCD screens use IPS technology to deliver a 178-degree view without color shift or discoloration.
  • Economical: LCD technology has been on the market for quite some time, and however, the manufacturing process has been perfected in the mobile space, allowing large volume displays to be produced at very cost-effective proportions.

LCD Cons

  • LCD screens can’t reach deep blacks – the presence of an always-on backlight to illuminate the screen regardless of which part of the screen is black means it’s never as dark as an AMOLED screen.
  • LCD screens can’t be made flexible – Galaxy Note Edge caught the spotlight in 2014 when Samsung introduced a curved AMOLED display. LCDs are rigid and cannot be bent or converted into a curved design, limiting the form factors they can fit.
  • Thickness: Since the LCD screen should have a backlight behind it, the screen always covers more of the phone’s internal sound, limiting how thin and light designs can be.
  • Pros and cons of AMOLED

Pros and Cons of AMOLED

Pros of AMOLED

  • Amoled displays have the most vibrant colors. Have you ever wanted your movie or images to stand out like never before? AMOLED displays can achieve this with incredible contrast ratios (color range from the darkest to the lightest color).
  • True Black Is Truly Achievable – Since a backlight assembly is not needed, the screen can turn off the pixels that should display black parts of an image, which means black is as dark as possible. This means looking at a Zebra consumes less power than the polar bear on your Galaxy S7.
  • Energy Efficiency: As the screen can illuminate individual pixels and likewise leave some pixels completely off, this means the screen can reach energy efficiency levels rarely seen in smartphone screens, thus extending battery life.
  • Flexible, bendable, adaptable: The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge features flexible AMOLED displays, the Galaxy Gear Fit2 uses a curved screen, and nearly all other smart wearables use a circular AMOLED display. LCDs may not work in any of these scenarios. AMOLED, portable devices (Apple Watch, Moto 360, Gear S3, etc.)

Cons of AMOLED

  • Expensive: Currently, the typical cost on the market to repair an AMOLED screen is twice that of a similar LCD screen (in some cases, it can be even higher). This is linked to higher production costs and the technology being younger and less refined compared to LCD counterparts.
  • Less Durable: Damage to a single pixel, like old Christmas string lights, can result in a complete cessation of display of the entire screen. In most cases, the AMOLED display will crack or break before the top Gorilla Glass makes it.
  • Recording – This is an issue present in older plasma televisions. Over time, pixels can “get stuck” by displaying a particular image or color, meaning that over time, they may show the shadow of an icon as the screen ages. A good way to reduce this is to move the icons from time to time.