LCDs and AMOLED (Smartphone displays)

Hi and welcome. In today’s post, we are going to be looking at LCDs and AMOLED displays.

LCDs and AMOLED displays are the two most common families of smartphone displays. In this post, we are going to look at these two in detail.

LCDs (Liquid Crystal Display)

LCD means Liquid Crystal Display. Its name refers to the array of liquid crystals illuminated by a backlight. LCDs are very popular and very cheap. This makes them a popular choice for smartphones and many other devices.

LCDs also tend to perform quite well in direct sunlight. This is because the entire display is illuminated from behind but, it does suffer from potentially less accurate color representation.

Within smartphones, you have both TFT and IPS displays. TFT stands for Thin Film Transistor. It is an advanced version of LCD that uses an active matrix (like the AM in AMOLED). Active matrix means that each pixel is attached to a transistor and capacitor individually.

The main advantage of TFT is its relatively low production cost and increased contrast. This is seen when they are compared to traditional LCDs.

The disadvantage of TFT LCDs is the higher energy demands than some other LCDs. It also has less impressive viewing angles and color reproduction. It’s for these reasons, and falling costs of alternative options, that TFTs are not commonly used in smartphones anymore.

IPS stands for In-Plane Switching and it is a huge improvement on TFT LCDs. It delivers better color reproduction and, most notably, improved viewing angles compared to TFT-LCDs. It does this by using two transistors for each pixel combined with a more powerful backlight. The downside is that they require more power than other types of non-LCD display. They still generally use less power than a TFT display though.



Retina is another technical term used by Apple to refer to their high-resolution IPS-LCD backlit LED screen displays. These displays are commonly used by the iPhones. The reason why this technology is named Retina is because the pixels cannot be identified by the naked eye thus making the image quality super sharp.

OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode)

An OLED display or organic light emitting diode is a type of display that is very popular in the market. I might be wrong but LG popularized it.

Well, this is a newer Smartphone display that has elevated the touchscreen technology to a new level. With initials that stand for Organic Light Emitting Diode, the OLED consist of a carbon-based organic material that is sandwiched between two layers of sheets namely the anode and cathode. These two layers are then sandwiched between two glass plates at the top and bottom (seal and substrate).

When the screen of an OLED Smartphone is touched, the two conducting sheets send the respective commands to the OS at a faster pace leading to a blazing fast response time. This Smartphone technology produces exceptional bright colors and wide viewing angles. This makes it probably the best for high-end Smartphone devices.

Unlike the LCDs, OLEDs do not use a backlight. The pixels are self lit. This means that each pixel can light itself up or turn itself down. This makes it more flexible than than LCD displays that has a general backlight which lights everything at once or goes off at once.

Another thing to note is that for black colours to display on an OLED, the pixels turns off to display a true black colour. On LCDs however, there’s no true black as the backlight cannot turn off. Instead it displays a color close to black

AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode):

Samsung took the OLED display and perfected it into what we now know as AMOLED. AMOLEDs have more brilliant colours, are brighter and respond faster. They also have better viewing angles as well.

The name AMOLED simply stands for Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode. These screen displays have the properties of OLED screens only that they’re upgraded to improve quality and response time.

AMOLED screens display images with brilliant colors and a high level of brightness and sharpness. Designed to offer lots of other brilliant quality feature, the AMOLED Smartphone display has rapidly gained popularity in the Smartphone world. This has made it the preferred screen display for most top of the range Smartphones.



Most LCDs can be separated from their touchscreen because they’re 2 separate entities that are stuck together. On a super AMOLED display, the touch and the display are one unit. Nothing to separate.

This advanced technology was developed by Samsung. It features in some of their top of the range Smartphones. An advanced version of the AMOLED display, the Super AMOLED mobile phone display consists of a touch response layer placed on the top display itself to improve response time and image quality. Since the display is super thin, this Smartphone technology consumes less battery power making it the perfect option for most expensive Smartphones such as the Galaxy S series.

Dynamic AMOLED

Dynamic AMOLED is the same as Super AMOLED. The only difference is that it has HDR10+ certification for even greater brightness, colour and contrast.


AMOLEDs have 2 big disadvantages

  1. They’re prohibitively expensive. Anyone who has broken a Samsung S series phone will tell you that it is better to buy a new phone.
  2. They are very prone to suffer from screen burn in.

Their advantages however include:

  1. Faster response time
  2. Better, brighter and more colourful
  3. Less battery consumption
  4. Always on display

LCDs on the other hand are

  1. Cheaper
  2. Less susceptible to screen burn-in


  1. They’re slower
  2. Duller
  3. Consumes a lot more battery
  4. Does have always on display

This brings us to the end of this post on LCDs and AMOLED displays.

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