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OLED, AMOLED LCD Screens, what Next for Smart Phone users

February 11, 2013

Building a phone is becoming MORE Interesting these days for Apple, for everyone. There are so many different technology options on smartphones that it is Major Task to keep up with all the latest technology. SmartPhones and iPads relying on touchscreen interfaces, the screens on these devices are one of the most important parts of these devices.

There are several different technologies behind the screens. The mission is to explain what some of these terms mean. If you’ve ever wondered what AMOLED, LCD, IPS, or TFT mean, you’re at the right place.

These days there are several choices of basic screen types when buying a SmartPhone or iPad, LCD or AMOLED. Many probably can’t tell the difference between the two screen types; but these technologies have inherent strengths and weaknesses. LCD has been around for a long time, but AMOLED phones are gaining popularity thanks to Samsung and other manufacturers. There isn’t a clear winner at this point in time, so here’s a look at both.

LCD, Liquid Crystal Display, has been in circulation for a long time. Besides mobile devices we see LCD screens being used in most computer monitors, and in the majority of Flat-Sceen TV’s. While these screens are made of "liquid crystals" they also require several panes of glass and a light source. LCD screens produce some of the most realistic colors you can find on screen; However, LCD screens offer a limited contrast ratio (the relationship between darker darks and brighter brights) as compared to AMOLED or OLED.

Common terms you will find associated with LCD displays: TFT and IPS. TFT stands for Thin Film Transistor, which makes the "wiring" of LCD screens more efficient by reducing the number of electrodes per pixel. One benefit of TFT displays is improved image quality over standard LCD screens. Another popular LCD technology is In-Plane Switching, or IPS, which improves upon TFT, by offering a much wider viewing angles and color reproduction on LCD screens. IPS screens are able to achieve this by keeping all the liquid crystals parallel to the screen. IPS is generally preferable to standard TFT. Notable Devices with ISP LCD Screens: iPhone 4/4s, iPad, and HTC One X.

AMOLED, Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode, technology is actually not new, but its emergence in the market-place is relatively recent, in that this technology is relatively expensive to produce in large, high-end screens in large quantities.

Recall, many large flat-panel HDTVs are of 1920×1080 pixel dimension, representing 2,073,600 total pixels; but generally HDTV’s are more like 2100×1500 pixels in size, or 3,150,000 total pixels, similar to the pixel dimensions of the iPad v3 and v4. (Apple’s iPad v3 Retina display: 9.7‑inch (diagonal) LED-backlit Multi‑Touch display with IPS technology, 2048-by-1536 resolution at 264 pixels per inch, equates to 3,145,728 pixels)

When fabricating these screens, and when testing them, every pixel has to pass quality tests relating to its ability to turn "on and off" and intensity capability. If a one or more pixels are "alway ON" or "always OFF" the entire screen is rejected. Therefore in the world of fabrication, which company, which menu of materials, which fabrication method, which factory, delivers the highest percentage of screens that Pass these Quality Tests… Note that many years ago, when fabricating OLED screens, the best results delivered only 70% Passing grades… meaning 30% of the OLED Screens fabricated FAILED the Quality Tests and are trashed.

AMOLED Screens, (another acronym for OLED screens) consist of a thin layer of organic polymers that light-up when energized with an minute electric current. Due to its "simple" construction, AMOLED screens can be extremely thin and do not require a backlight. The benefit of not needing a backlight is readily apparent: these screens are able to produce very Dark Blacks so deep, that the screen pixels can shut-off completely. Shutting-off pixels also saves electricity, power, and battery-life, as in phones and iPads for example. Keeping the backgrounds close to Black saves energy.

According to OLED-Info, a trade organization, Apple has hired a new executive into its Display group. Dr. Jeung Jil Lee, who was previously a research fellow at LG Display, and an expert of OLED technology, having worked at Cambridge Display Technology, the company that pioneered polymer OLEDs.

Apple apparently is very interested in OLED displays. Why? OLED screens are lighter than the LCDs Apple currently uses, have theoretically better power-efficiency than LCDs, are flexible, have wider viewing angles, improved brightness, and OLED pixel-response-times are FASTER than LCDs as well.

Issues with OLEDs; Presently, OLED displays are more expensive than LCDs to fabricate in significant quantities; OLED displays also have diminished lifespans as compared to LCDs; The blues diodes within the OLED display decays at a faster rate than the other two "primary colors." For an OLED display, one may notice its ‘blues" degrade to half-brightness after about five years of use. This leads to color calibration issues as time progresses in the life of a product with an OLED display. Finally, while OLEDs have much improved power efficiency, when displaying a simple text document, with a white background, more power may be consumed with OLED, which may result in using more battery life than an LCD display. This is an issue for mobile device, like iPhones and iPads, particularly when reading iBooks.

Apple is very resourceful enterprise, with an enormous level of talent in its ranks. With OLED display advantages with image intensity, color accuracy, literally flexible screens, power efficiency, lets see if Apple in working with its fabrication partners, to develop their version of an OLED screen. However, for the present time Apple is invested in IPS LCD displays and Apple is coupled this year with Sharp’s IGZO technology.

For the record, several years ago I noticed the first commercially available OLED product; it was a small HDTV Monitor on display in a SONY retail store. The SONY PVM 740 is another leap in Sony imaging technology. Using the new OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology, blacks are black. Contrast is mesmerizing and your picture never looked so good. Incorporating Sony’s "STE" (Super Top Emission) structure… The other Leap is the price, with suggested MSRP of $2495. Aside from the price, the display was brilliant; the images almost jumped off the screen.

Welcome, OLED to the world of consumer products. Also of note SONY is using their OLED screens in their exciting new SLT-A77 and A99 all Digital Cameras.. It’s worth pointing out though that the A99 sports the same 2.4M dot resolution OLED ‘Tru-Finder’ EVF whose performance we found very impressive in the SONY NEX-7. The benefits that an OLED electronic view finder provides, including exposure and white balance preview, focus peaking and a customizable information overlay, incredible detail and brilliant color accuracy.

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One Comment
  1. I found this website very cool and I just wanna say thanks. I hope you keep up the great work!

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