Smartphone Displays Explained: All you need to know

Smartphone displays (or screens) are the largest part of a smartphone. They display all of the information needed by the user. They also double as input devices because they are used to give commands to the smartphone.

Smartphone displays were not that much of a big deal till the first iPhone arrived. Manufacturers then realized that they could do away with the keyboard altogether. Some companies like Samsung and HTC had tried to temporarily remove the keyboards by designing sliding phones, but never really paid much attention to the display.

Display sizes

Now displays are a big part of the smartphone experience. As each year passes by, the average sizes of smartphone displays are getting bigger and bigger.

Once upon a time, the average size of a smartphone was around 4 inches. Phones with bigger screens were known as phablets (6 inches) and tablets (7 inches). Now the size of the average phone is around 6 inches which has killed the term phablet. Tablets are still around anyway and are not going anywhere soon.

Our phone screens today are mostly touch screens on top of the displays. Once upon a time, they were separate but now they are fused and would require a heat gun to separate. Now, while Apple popularized the concept, there have been touch screens around on phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) since the IBM Simon in 1993.

Touchscreen technology

These older touch screens used a technology called RESISTIVE TOUCH. This meant that you had to apply a certain amount of pressure to the screen before it recognized your action. Modern touch screens today use CAPACITATIVE TOUCH for their displays. A capacitive touchscreen panel consists of an insulator, such as glass, coated with a transparent conductor.

Since our bodies conduct electricity, touching the surface of the screen results in a distortion of the screen’s electrostatic field. That way, the screen registers touch. Unlike resistive touch, capacitative touch does not require pressure at all.

With the introduction of touch screens to the display, smartphone displays now serve the dual purpose of acting as both an input and output device.


Smartphone displays are very important for a lot of people. This is because the whole aesthetic experience of using a smartphone is mostly tied to its visual appeal. A phone with a sharp, crisp, and rich display would make using it a beautiful experience. Pictures would look sharp with bright colors popping out. Videos and movies would be smooth and fluid. Playing games would also be a nice experience especially if you play online Battle Royale games like PUBG, CoDM, and Fortnite. Spotting enemies and eliminating them would be a piece of cake.

Using a phone with a bad display, however, ruins the whole smartphone experience. Pictures would look dull. Videos would look blurry and they could lag as well. Playing high-octane online games would be a pain as you would be unable to spot enemies at certain draw distances.

Display specs you should keep an eye on

Companies these days also place a great emphasis on their displays and have invested in using a lot of buzzwords for advertising. These include screen sizes, resolution, display panel type, refresh rate, brightness and darkness in nits as well as pixel density.

For the next series of posts, we are going to be looking at some very important smartphone display specs. We will check out what they mean and why you should care about them.


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