Blog Post

Your next smartphone screen could rival your HDTV

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

Starting this month, Sharp will have a full production line producing full HD displays for smartphones. The 5-inch LCD screens will support 1920 x 1080 resolution, which is the highest found on HDTVs that are in stores today. That works out to an eye-popping 443 pixels per inch, or a pixel density roughly 30 percent higher than the Retina display used on Apple’s iPhone(s aapl).

Production of the new display, as reported by Unwired View, is specifically slated for smartphones, although the definition of what’s a phone and what’s a tablet is showing some overlap. Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 2, for example, uses a 5.5-inch display at 1280 x 720 resolution, and has tablet features along with the traditional voice calling of a smartphone.

This move towards larger touchscreen displays isn’t new, however. I started to see the trend develop in early 2010 as smartphones began creeping closer to 4 inches in size. The following year, such a size was viewed as nearly standard even as phones with 5-inch or larger displays hit the market. Add in the growing market for 7-inch tablets and we may see some “meeting in the middle” in terms of screen size for portable handsets and small tablets.

Much of this trend towards bigger is, in my opinion, because of the growing demand for mobile device video content and richer applications that can benefit from larger displays. And 720p displays won’t quite cut it for optimal clarity once screens grow in size to a certain point. With more than twice as many pixels as a 720p screen, full HD displays on smartphones and small tablets will enhance the mobile experience. One only need to look at Apple’s newest iPad with 2048 x 1536 resolution compared to the prior models to see the difference.

8 Responses to “Your next smartphone screen could rival your HDTV”

  1. gr8bkset

    I’d love to see someone come out with a phone that normally has 1024×768 resolution, but can be “unfolded” so that the back and front becomes a larger screen with a resolution equal to an iPad. Why not have a smart phone and tablet in one?

  2. Jack N Fran Farrell

    It’s about time. One more IBM myth debunked. Crappy screens are not good enough.

    Now if we could just get rid of the myth that we enjoy being data entry clerks.

  3. Personally, I think the sweet spot for smartphones is 4.3″-4.5″, depending on how compact the whole body is. Are you sure you won’t regret your Galaxy Note 2 purchase if the next Nexus is a 5″ phone with this resolution, though?

    The last analogy with the iPad is a little odd, since it has only 260 PPI, and smartphones have had over 300 PPI with those 720p screens for a while now, so they’ve experienced that “retina-like” jump a long time ago.

    I’m generally excited about 1080p screens, though. 300 PPI is definitely not the limit for the human eye. More like 600-1200 PPI is.

    I’m not just sure the jump to it is worth it right now. Maybe a year from now. A 1080p screen will set back the GPU performance and battery life.

    • Good points – I rarely regret a purchase though. If something is available that I think will meet my needs, I buy it. If something better comes along, I generally recoup a fair amount of money by selling the last item and re-investing those funds in a new one.

  4. 5 inches is too much for a daily-carry phone. It’s just too unwieldy for that. But higher pixel density is awesome, we need more of that – most crucially, not on small devices but PC screens. It’s absolutely ridiculous that a 100 PPI 30-inch screen is considered the best you can do on a PC and it costs $1500 still.

    • Frost, 10 million has bought the Galaxy Note with its 5+ inch screen and Samsung is expecting demand to be triple for the 5.5-inch Note 2. Is the size too big for a daily carry phone? Not for everyone, although I realize that many still prefer something smaller.

      • Eric Foster

        When it comes to the newest tech, most people are stupid and don’t know what they want or why they want it. What they need is for someone to tell them what they want, before their retarded buying choices puts good companies and products out of business (Cue Darth Jobs). Samsung is very good at using spite to create buzz for it’s products. Although extremely effective, I see the tactic as desperate and bitchy. 5 inches is a great screen size for a nano tablet, but people look ridiculous holding these phablets to their heads. If you’re planning to use a bluetooth headphone type of device when making calls, the device makes a lot more sense. A google glass type of device would make a perfect combo. On a related note, it took Samsung a few years to catch up with apple in the smartphone space, and it’s taken a couple of years for everyone else to catch up with Samsung. They have however, and the space is rife with innovation. I’ve been an avid and loyal apple fan for going on 10 years and recently, whilst playing with a blue HTC 8X, found myself wondering if I could incorporate a little windows into my life:) Upon reflection, I found this extremely surprising.