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Smartphone screen explained: PPI, Resolution, Display Type


Smartphone screen explained: PPI, Resolution, Display Type

Hello friends and welcome back to your own tech guide Techanalysia. Today we are going to discuss the screens employed in our smartphones. Whenever you looking for a smartphone through online mode and you scrolling down different web pages and specification sheets of phones, you often find several confusing terminologies, especially in the display section of a particular phone. Like:

The resolution, Resolution type, Display type, PPI, Pixel Density, etc.

With everyday changes in smartphone technologies, the display of smartphones changed too. Thanks to their rising competition. Back then, when touchscreen phones were introduced, the display got a lot of attention from the users. Generally in a smartphone, we look for a display that produces sharp texts, vibrant & crisp photos, a lag-free video experience, and adequate brightness too.

After reading this article you'll get a better idea of your smartphone screens. So let's get started from the basics of a smartphone screen :

What is a Pixel

Pixel comes from "pix" ( for Picture ) and "el" ( for Element ). A pixel is the smallest piece of information on an image. This is a unit for measuring image resolution and the more pixels a picture consists of, the more detailed it is. To be more precise it is just a single dot on a phone display or screen. 

Resolution Of Screen

Resolution of the screen is one of the basic building blocks of a great smartphone screen experience. In this resolution category, the size of a screen is measured in inches; the number of pixels defines how much information it can show per inch and how densely those pixels are packed is referred to as PPI (Pixel Per Inch). Larger the number, the better the screen resolution.

Pixel per inch is the measurement of the pixel density (resolution) of an electronic image device such as a computer/Laptop or smartphone.

While scrolling the spec sheet of favorite smartphone you might saw a term in the display section i.e. 403 PPI, 405 PPI, 458 PPI, 509 PPI, these all numbers are representing the number of pixels packed per inch of a smartphone screen in other words it is the Pixel Density of that particular smartphone screen. If you the size of your display, you can easily calculate your phone's PPI using a pixel density calculator.

A table is given below for your better understanding of the resolutions and aberrations used for the same :







True 4K




4K, True 4K, Cinema 4K


4K Ultra HD




4K, Ultra HD













Full HD







Along with this, some manufacturers also use tweaked HD & FullHD displays, Namely HD+ & FullHD+ displays by changing the number of horizontal pixels on both of them. 

In HD displays they use 1480, 1560, 1600, 1520, 1544  retaining the value of vertical pixels at 720, thus making it an HD+ display.

The same goes with FullHD displays, they change the horizontal number into 2260, 2280, 2400 thus making it a FullHD+ display.

There is also an important term to pay attention to while we talking about smartphone screens and that is 'nits' which refers to a rating of brightness for smartphone displays. 

Display Types in smartphones, Laptops, Desktop/PC

There are many display types used in smartphones nowadays. Like LCD, IPS, OLED, AMOLED, Super AMOLED. The most common type of display that is used in the majority of smartphones from mid to high range smartphones is IPS-LCD. So we'll take a look at each of them one by one.


LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display. it is the most common display that is being used by many smartphone manufacturers. The name of this refers to an array of liquid crystals illuminated by a backlight, the low cost and availability of these everywhere makes them very common in smartphones. It's performing quite well in direct sunlight, as the display is illuminated from behind but these panels suffer from presenting accurate color representation from displays that don't need a backlight.

LCD displays are further categorized into two types:-


TFT, which means Thin Film Transistor is not itself a display type, in fact, it is the technology to make LCD panels. TFT uses an Active Matrix Technology in which the display transistor and capacitor have separate pixels attached to them. In fact, each pixel can have four transistors; for making the whole operation smooth. These kinds of displays are widely used for having low contrast ratios, resolution, and picture quality. Also, big TFT displays consume a lot of power and these are not battery friendly, but they are cheap, that's why companies put these displays in budget devices. Mainly in feature phones and phones below or near 7k to 8k.


IPS stands for In-Plane Switching. It's also a technology to make LCD panels. The viewing angles in these panels are quite in comparison to TFT-LCD. It also consumes less power, which makes them battery-efficient panels. These are costlier than TFT-LCDs. IPS-LCD produces very accurate and punchy colors. That's why they are preferred over TFT-LCDs by most smartphone manufacturers.


It stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. It is a new technology that is currently being used in smartphones/laptop/pc displays. By innovation, these two conducting sheets (anode and cathode) are filled with carbon-based organic material in between them and sealed from both sides. When an electronic pulse hits these plates, the light is being emitted from the conducting material which is filled in between these plates. The contrast and brightness of the display depending upon the electronic pulse. OLED panels produce a true black color. When compared with LCDs, OLED are generally good at displaying blacks, response, and brightness. OLEDs are also slim in profile, dissipates less heat. however they are expensive from LCD panels, they are generally used in high-end smartphones. 


AMOLED means 'Active Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode'. it's basically an OLED display that uses slightly different technology namely active matrix to produce more control over each pixel. The main quality of AMOLED panels is that they produce deep and darker blacks. They provide accurate colors, a good visual experience, and good brightness too.


It's nothing more than an advanced/upgraded version of AMOLED panels. It uses the same technology with some tweaks in basic architecture, which makes it better than AMOLED. This brings us even better display, low power consumption, better outdoor (sunlight) readability, most accurate viewing angles more accurate and punchy colors, and produces even darker blacks than AMOLED panels. These panels are the most expensive ones out there in the market, so these panels are used only in premium high-tier phones.

Refresh Rate

Displays in our smartphones/monitors/laptops/TVs are not static. Content and any movement appear to be very smooth on the phone's screen because every pixel updates to display the new content every time whenever your phone's processor executes a task or command. This doesn't happen at random. Display panels update their content at regular intervals, known as refresh rate. 

The refresh rate measures how quickly the content of the display refreshes itself. The refresh rate is the measure of how many times a screen refreshes its image or content. It is measured in Hertz(Hz). 

A 60Hz display means it refreshes 60 times per second, 90Hz means it refreshes 90 times per second, and likewise 120Hz display panels. Basically a higher refresh rate lesser motion blur and clearer image quality.


I hope that today you got a brief idea about your smartphone screens. So, we'll end it here. And I hope you learned something new today about your smartphone screens. And if you liked it then do let me know in the comment section down below and share it with your friends.


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