SMARTPHONE DISPLAY RESOLUTION EXPLAINED

Our smartphone displays are a central part of our smartphone experience. One of the major functions of a smartphone display is to display (show) information. It helps us understand what is happening on our phones at any particular moment in time. We view photos, watch videos and play games on our phones via the display. When you turn on your camera, the display turns into a viewfinder so that you see what you want to shoot at or record. The importance of displays on smartphones cannot be overestimated.


Read: Smartphone displays: What are they and why are they important?


Pixels

Our displays (screens) are made up of small building blocks called pixels. If you look closely at old Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) Televisions and Monitors, you will find these little red, green and blue dots or boxes.

These little pixels combine together to form the images that you can find on your display. These pixels are arranged horizontally and vertically in row and columns. A display with a lot of pixels will display a better image resolution than a display with lesser pixels.

Pixels combining to form an image (Image credits: Gearbest blog)

Resolution

Resolution can be loosely defined as the clarity of an image in details and sharpness. A display that shows images with sharp and crisp details is said to have a higher resolution than a display that shows images with lesser details and sharpness.

A smartphone display resolution can be defined as the amount of pixels that can be found on a display. A display with a lot of pixels can be said to have a higher resolution than a display with lesser pixels.


How is a display’s resolution determined?

The amount of pixels that a display contains is usually written with the vertical aspect multiplied by the horizontal.

Vertical aspect x Horizontal aspect (p)

So on a display with 1920 pixels on the vertical aspect and 1080 pixels on the horizontal aspect, the resolution is written as:

1920 x 1080p


Resolution standard

Although resolution is mostly written as vertical vs horizontal (p), there have been several standards which have been used over the years. These are used to compare and rate displays and act as buzzwords for advertising.

These standards are usually written in “Definitions” and/or the number of pixels on the horizontal aspect e.g. 640 x 480p is either called SD or 480p.


Standard Definition (SD or 480p):

Any display that contains 640 pixels by 480 pixels (640 x 480p) is referred to as a Standard Definition (SD) display. SD is also written as 480p. It was very popular in the 1990s and was featured on most CRT TVs and PC Monitors of the time. It has largely been phased out and replaced by the High Definition standard.


High Definition (HD or 720p):

If a display contains 1280 pixels by 720 pixels (1280 x 720p), it conforms to the High Definition standard or HD. HD is also written as 720p. High Definition displays replaced the old SD displays and provides better and sharper image quality. It is mostly used on low end phones these days.


High Definition plus (HD+):

HD+ displays have pixel measurements of 1600 x 900p.


Full High Definition (FHD or 1080p):

Full HD is the next step up and is currently the standard for smartphone display definition. It has a pixel measurement of 1920 x 1080 pixels (1080p). Most smartphone reviewers had theorized that the human eyes can not tell the difference in resolution between FHD displays and other higher resolutions. They have mostly advised that since FHD screens tend to conserve more battery than other higher forms of resolution, it is better most people just stick to 1080p displays.


Full High Definition plus (FHD+):

FHD+ offer a slightly better resolution when compared to FHD displays. FHD+ measure at 1920 × 1280 pixels.


Quad High Definition (QHD or 2K):

QHD stands for Quad HD, which is four times the definition of standard HD. That means you can fit the same number of pixels as four HD displays into a QHD display of the same size. The pixel measurement for QHD is 2560 x 1440 pixels (2K). QHD is found on the high end phones and flagships.


Ultra High Definition (UHD or 4K):

Although UHD and 4K are used alternatively, they are not the same. Ultra HD is 3860 x 2160 pixels and 4K is 4096 x 2160 pixels. Both definitions frequently get shortened to 2160p and the pixel difference is relatively marginal.


Full Ultra High Definition (FUHD or 8K):

8K screens are still mostly in development and are restricted to TVs and Monitors for now. Although this technology may trickle down to smartphones later on. 8K displays have pixel measurements of 4320p.


Non-standard displays

There are quite a number of phones with displays that do not fit the HD standard and the they are simply written with their vertical pixels against the horizontal ones e.g. 1600 x 765p


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