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Display technology

Display technology will have a big impact on the mobile industry in the next years. Slowly improvements are coming to the market.

Samsung introduced AMOLED (=Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode) screens into mobile phones such that the end user can also read things on the display in bright sunlight. Touchscreens have become extremely popular with the introduction of iPhone, though some users did give it a try and are returning to keypad only mobile phones as the touchscreens tend to be too ‘touchy’ (things can get started easily while carrying your phone in your pocket).

0.1 mm flexible AMOLED screen from ITRI (Taiwan)

0.1 mm flexible AMOLED screen from ITRI (Taiwan)

Improvements in display technologies are also important for other devices beyond mobile phones like e-readers, navigation equipment, TVs, etc. Improvements in display technology has a direct impact on the user experience. Displays allow a larger viewing angle, will be thinner, consume less power, have brighter colors and deeper black.

For touchscreens there is two types of main technologies:

  • resistive
  • capacitive

A resistive touchscreen responds to pressure from a stylus or your finger. Nowadays more phones are equipped with capacitive touchscreens. A capacitive touchscreen uses the fact your body is conductive and therefore a capacitive touchscreen can only be operated using your finger. Personally I do not like this idea as I can press buttons and small items on the screen more easily using a stylus (normally I would just use a pen for this although manufacturers warn you this can harm your resistive touchscreen).

Currently Samsung is the main manufacturer of AMOLED displays for mobile phones. There is difficulties to meet the demand of mobile phone manufacturers for AMOLED displays. Some manufacturers like HTC have turned to alternative sources and competing technologies for displays like Super technology from Sony (HTC Desire). Apple developed their own Retina display technology for the iPhone 4.

Interestingly Nokia took the lead in touchscreen enabled mobile phones as reported by Canalys earlier in february this year. Canalysis estimates touchscreen smartphones took 55% of the mobile smartphone market in Q4 2009. By volumes Nokia has been the leading vendor for touchscreen phones (mostly N97 and 5800) followed by Apple, HTC and Samsung. More details can be found here.