IPS versus AMOLED: which is the better phone screen?
Conan Hughes | On 29, Aug 2013
As you go from retailer to retailer while searching for the next smartphone to buy, you may mostly come across demo units with hardware specs listed nearby. You can expect the type of technology used for the display to be mentioned there as well.
Most devices today rely on either IPS or AMOLED, each of which performs differently in terms of clarity, color, and vividness of the text and images being shown on the screen.
When comparing IPS versus AMOLED, which do you think comes out as the winner? Continue reading on to find out. All information below will help you make an educated purchase for a smartphone with the best screen.
IPS stands for in-plane switching, a technology that’s applied on liquid crystal displays (LCDs) in order to eliminate certain limitations of ordinary LCDS: slow response time, viewing angle dependence, terrible color reproduction. IPS-LCDs are noted for having two transistors in each pixel instead of just the one, like in regular LCDs.
Unlike regular LCD screens commonly used in many mobile devices, an IPS-LCD display touts better viewing angles.
In other words, color, visibility, and vividness mostly remain in such excellent levels no matter your position. It’s just as how you enjoy them when you look at the screen straightforwards. IPS displays also address slow response times that plague ordinary LCDs, giving players a better choice for an unhindered gaming experience.
Because IPS displays have higher transistor density than regular LCD, they require a more powerful lighting behind them. The increase in backlight results in more power consumption, therefore requiring a higher capacity battery lest phone usage is negatively affected.
Many devices use IPS-LCD for their screen. Notable examples are the high-end tablet Nexus 7 and Apple’s flagship iPhone devices. Cheap phones also use LCD, but without IPS technology. That is why their screens only display lackluster colors, have limited viewing angles, and others.
- Consistent and accurate rendering of colors in all viewing angles
- Faster response times vs ordinary LCDs
- Better color reproduction
- Needs more powerful backlight
- Consumes more power
- Added screen thickness due to backlight
Given the rapid advancement of technology, newer variations of IPS surface within years. For instance, Samsung introduced Super PLS (Plane-to-Line Switching) that allegedly features even better viewing angles, increase in screen brightness, lower production costs, better visuals, and panel flexibility. More successors to IPS are continually being developed even to this day.
AMOLED stands for active-matrix organic light-emitting diode, a display technology that makes use of organic compounds to produce high quality imagery without high power consumption. AMOLED screens differ from LCDs as the former is capable of producing its own light, thereby no longer needing a backlight. This feature also allows phones to become potentially thinner.
Since AMOLED doesn’t use a backlight, its screens are capable of producing darker blacks (better contrast ratio) by simply turning off light-emitting diodes in particular pixels.
LCDs, in comparison, produce blacks that appear bright or dark grey because they fail to block all light made by their backlighting.
AMOLED is relatively new in adoption to high-end screens, which currently makes it more expensive to manufacture than IPS-LCDs. While capable of reaching high brightness levels, AMOLED screens are prone to displaying oversaturated green colors. The diodes also tend to age faster, particularly the red and blue colors, causing color balance to degrade.
Popular smartphones employ AMOLED for their screens. All Galaxy S flagship devices by Samsung come with the technology (or a variation of it). The Motorola Droid RAZR and Nokia 808 Pureview are also AMOLED advocates.
- Absence of backlight
- Lesser power consumption or longer battery life
- Thinner screen
- Better contrast ratio
- More expensive to manufacture
- Dull images when compared to IPS
- Color degradation over time
Different forms of AMOLED are found in the smartphone industry. All of them are, at heart, OLED and usually vary only in the subpixel construction. For instance, the Super AMOLED by Samsung employs the company’s PenTile subpixel layout in order to increase brightness and render smoother images. Other variations, such as the Super AMOLED HD, only differ from the rest in terms of an increase in screen resolution.
So now, we’re back to the question: between IPS and AMOLED, which is the clear winner? There is no definite answer, because it all comes down to personal preference. Each screen technology addresses different issues while compromising—to some degree—other aspects of the smartphone/tablet.
To put it short and simple, you can rely on IPS-LCDs when it comes to color reproduction, daylight visibility, image quality, and resolution support. AMOLED, on the other hand, stands out best in battery life, its contribution to slimming down the device, contrast ratio, and response time.