Screen Materials

It’s safe to assume that everyone has had, or has seen someone else with, a cracked or shattered smartphone screen. Regardless of brand, model, or carrier it seems that all smartphone displays are made using the same (easily breakable) materials. Actually, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are many different types of displays used for the screens on your smartphone and each type is made differently.

Smartphone Ui RealisticLCD

An LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) is most commonly used for TV, computer and cell phone screens. Though LCD screens are very thin, they are composed of several different layers. These layers include 2 polarized panels that contain a liquid crystal solution between them. Since neither the solution nor the polarized panels produce light, a backlight is used to project and colorize light in order to produce a visible image.


There are different types of LCD screens used for different devices. The TFT-LCD (Thin Film Transistor) is used to improve LCD image quality. Each pixel on the display has its own transistor, offering better control and quality over the graphics rendered on the screen.

Though the image quality is better than a standard LCD screen, the TFT display has poor viewing angles. The display looks best when viewed head-on and can be difficult to see from the sides.


IPS-LCD (In-Plane Switching) is similar to TFT-LCD. However, instead of having 1 transistor per pixel it has 2, allowing better viewing angles. Because of this, though, your smartphone will require more power from the backlight being used and will ultimately consume more power or battery life than the TFT-LCD or standard LCD screens.

High-end cell phones and other mobile devices such as the iPhone, iPad and Motorola Droid utilize IPS-LCD in their screens.


An OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) display can produce brighter, sharper images than LCDs AND use less power. Where LCD screens require a backlight in order to produce images, OLED displays emit their own light. Not only do OLED displays provide better viewing angles and better quality displays, the screens used are thinner than LCD screens and consume less power.

The downside to OLED display is that the organic materials used to make the screens have a shorter lifespan and can be damaged by liquids easier. Additionally, viewing an OLED screen under direct sunlight can cause the images being viewed on the OLED screen to not display as bright as on an LCD screen.


AMOLED (Active-Matrix OLED) is found primarily in TVs and mobile devices. Combining part of the TFT-LED display with OLED allows faster response times than traditional OLED displays. Though AMOLED displays offer great power savings, they have a more limited lifespan because of the organic materials they are made with.


Super AMOLED displays are primarily found in Samsung smartphones. They are designed to improve traditional AMOLED performance. With the improvements from these displays, there is much better performance even when viewed under direct sunlight and the displays offer brighter images with less power consumption.

Touch Screen

A Touch Screen is a display that actually acts as an input device. It can respond to a user’s touch from fingers, hands or a stylus pen. Touch Screen displays are most popular in smartphones such as the iPhone or Android phones, tablets such as the iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab S and even various laptop models made by Acer, Asus, Dell and many more.

Capacitive Touch Screen

Capacitive Touch Screens respond to the electrical properties found within the human body. As such, the display requires only a light touch from the user in order to respond. However, Capacitive Touch Screens cannot normally function from the touch of a gloved finger or stylus pen.

This display is the only one capable of multi-touch such as spreading fingers apart to zoom out, pinching fingers together to zoom in, or other touch gestures such as these.

Resistive Touch Screen

Resistive Touch Screens, like LEDs, consist of multiple layers. The difference is that these layers are separated by thin spaces, allowing the device to respond when pressure is applied to the surface of the display. Unlike a Capacitive Touch Screen, these displays do not support the use of multi-touch gestures and can leave users feeling as though they need to apply more pressure to the screen for the device to respond. However, a Resistive Touch Screen can support the use of a stylus pen or other input device.

iStock_000053862304_SmallRetina Display

Steve Jobs introduced Retina Display with the release of the iPhone 4. Jobs stated that the amount of pixels needed for Retina Display was around 300 PPI (Pixels Per Inch) for a device held 10-12 inches from the eye. The iPhone 4/4s and iPod Touch (4th generation) were made with a 326 PPI display.

What this means is that the human eyes can see up to 300 pixels per inch and, by increasing the amount of PPI on a given display that the eyes can detect, the display will always appear clear and smooth.